Morality, self-interest and constraints

Roger Brownsword brought up (PDF) the interesting topic of the relationship of moral codes of society with regulation and technology at the Technology & Regulation Symposium at the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology. Essentially law, regulation and technology can supplement the moral codes of a society – so less or more is required depending on the strength of common belief and adherence to those moral codes. As a shift occurs away from belief in doing something because it is “right”, to self-interest (the prudential approach),  and finally what is only possible or practical. The second can rely on signals that you will be detected and convicted, e.g. with many CCTV cameras. The third is evidenced by technologies used to enforce options, such as turnstiles for example.

I note that Will Durant says something similar in volume 1 (“Our Oirental Heritage”) of the epic “Story of Civilization’.