If you think about the massive difference of political opinion on your country and then in the world, you notice that there are very few things everyone agrees on.

From my UK perspective I can only think of Don't kill innocents for no reason, Don't steal from others without reason and that is almost it. Values that I would personally hope to be universal, such as Don't rape, Don't discriminate are, unfortunately, not agreed with universally.

Are there any truly universal laws?

That's probably impossible; what about if you exclude anarchists and fringe extremists, are there any then?

closed as off-topic by user4012, Avi, Brythan, bytebuster, SoylentGray Oct 28 '16 at 19:34

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    Seems more suited for philosophy.se – user1530 Oct 26 '16 at 17:47
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    @Bregalad - Philosophically/ethically, France would like to have a conversation with you about your (un)civilized views on marital (in)fidelity :) Legally, very few countries outside Middle East actually have - AND actually apply - laws about infidelity at this point. – user4012 Oct 26 '16 at 18:40
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    @Bregalad - "Studies suggest around 30–40% of unmarried relationships and 18–20% of marriages see at least one incident of sexual infidelity" - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infidelity – user4012 Oct 26 '16 at 18:42
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    To put a (somewhat related) example, for many years there was no law stablishing which was the official language of France because nobody saw the need for such a law. – SJuan76 Oct 26 '16 at 19:49
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    A lot of things "we wish were universal" are often extraordinarily difficult to define in an objective manner. For a very strong example, consider the "right to life" argument the US is grappling with. Everyone agrees that killing is a bad thing, but there is not an agreement as to when a blob of cells becomes a thing that can be killed. Any attempt to draw a dividing line on this topic gets mired in details because there is no perfect line with no pathological behavior. – Cort Ammon Oct 26 '16 at 23:32

Yes, they are called Cultural Universals or expressed negatively as taboos. The attached article includes the taboo of incest as example, which is defined differently among cultures. The other two near universal taboos are cannibalism and murder, again what constitutes these acts varies from culture to culture and the fact that they do occur is not to detract from the fact that most, or all, societies see these as crimes.

The concept of a cultural universal has long been discussed in the social sciences. Cultural universals are elements, patterns, traits, or institutions that are common to all human cultures worldwide. There is a tension in cultural anthropology and cultural sociology between the claim that culture is a universal (the fact that all human societies have culture), and that it is also particular (culture takes a tremendous variety of forms around the world).

Source: Boundless. “Cultural Universals.” Boundless Sociology. Boundless, 01 Jul. 2016. Retrieved 26 Oct. 2016 from https://www.boundless.com/sociology/textbooks/boundless-sociology-textbook/culture-3/culture-and-society-29/cultural-universals-184-5913/

This article lists the top taboos in the world: https://popculture.knoji.com/top-10-taboos-in-world/

  • Isn't incest common in some cultures? – BladorthinTheGrey Oct 26 '16 at 17:52
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    No. From the second article: Incest is one of the most common taboos across cultures. Among incestuous relationships, parent-child and sibling-sibling unions are the most abhorred ones. Though incest occurred among many cultures sporadically throughout history, modern age has seen the steep decline of formally practiced incest. – K Dog Oct 26 '16 at 17:56
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    @KDog - Is that because those cultures naturally abhorred incest, or because Western culture has imposed its own taboo on them? I tend to be highly suspicious of anything cultural in the "modern age". – Bobson Oct 26 '16 at 21:49
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    ... it gets hillarious at "There is a strong social taboo against eating meat of carnivorous animals. Exceptions include bear, fox, dog, crocodile, shark, most fish and duck.". – AnoE Oct 26 '16 at 23:03
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    Its worth noting that there's a large difference between "near universal" and "universal" in questions like these. As you point out, cannibalism is "near universal," but there are cultures where we had to teach people to stop eating eachother so they'd stop getting sick! Also interesting is the difference between killing and murder. Murder is always defined to be a killing that the group finds inexusable, so its status as a "universal taboo" is almost a tautology. – Cort Ammon Oct 26 '16 at 23:28

Don't kill innocents for no reason, Don't steal from others without reason

How's a "reason" defined? is "because I want to" a reason? How do you decide which reason is valid and which is not? Is it ok to kill innocents to appease the gods of rain? What about killing innocents to prevent a war?

Some places may consider belonging to a different race or creed reason enough to steal from people, while other places may not. In such cases, even if the rule is "Don't steal from others without reason", is it really the same rule when the reference frame, and the set of values under which it is applied, are different?

I think that there is no such thing as a pan-social law. Not in humans, anyway.

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