The labels placed on individuals or imposed by the person, individually, is a frequent source of socially scientific inquiry. Here the discussion of the “moral” person verses the “law-abiding” individual will expand to include self-imposed labels and labels given by others in society. The analysis of the moral person versus the law-abiding person begins to brings into question the value of loyalty to the state in individual ethical behavior. If one were to critically engage in contrasting the too, then it can be said that the law-abiding person is an unquestioning and conforming member of the state in which they are an actor.
The fact that the law-abiding have no reason to commit acts considered unlawful is not the issue and is quite irrelevant. The striking difference between they and the moral actor is that this individual either self-identifies or is identified by others as such (law-abiding). Their status is their identity and is in direct contrast with others, who believe that moral behavior is not synonymous, necessarily, with law-abiding behavior at all times and in all situations. A moral person will not attempt to create an identity which requires conformity with institutions of the state and, instead, their own inherent values and beliefs.
Therefore the law-abiding and the moral person differ in their attempts to create an ethical identity with the law-abiding person relying on an external locus of control and the moral person relying on their internal locus of control. The moral person relies on a set of ethical codes of conduct primarily and can be said to either use the set of written institutional laws secondarily or to give little thought to the legal ramifications of certain actions. Activists and other types of civilly disobedient individuals are examples of persons, who believe that the label of moral is more fitting and in total congruence with their personas.
Being labeled as deviant or criminal does not create a different system of action, because the identity of deviant is one given by others and not self-imposed. The self-imposition of the two types of actors is important to review as the law-abiding person achieves their label due to their inaction and not to any deed or action that they have carried out. A law-abiding person then is characterized as being a model citizen when spoken about in the media or to pass legislation. The moral person, however, is a more ambiguous label that is rarely used outside of academia or religion.
In academics, a moral person and their set of values is many times scrutinized by scientific inquiry. In religion, a moral person is one, who follows their religion. But, still here, the moral actor will self-impose this status. It may be said that a person has acted in a moral or immoral way, but not stated by others that the individual directly is moral or immoral. Again, the issues here are that action is required for a person to be labeled deviant or said to have acted immorally while the status of the law-abiding person requires inaction and serves to help institutional action (i. e.
legislation). For example, current legislation on illegal immigration frequently falls back on the term “law-abiding” to illustrate that “law-abiding” immigrants should be put into a different category than those who are “law-breakers”. But morality is never brought into the debate due to its ambiguity and different interpretations of the imposition, leaving it to the self-imposed status mentioned earlier. In conclusion, the law-abiding and moral person are two much different actors in the same world. The moral person requires action to fit into this label and the label must be self-imposed.
Others may question a person’s actions as being moral or immoral, but it is not used to portray the moral person in their entire persona. The law-abiding person, however, is labeled for their inaction and the reaction of the state. Moral persons are more ambiguous because all moral actors have unique sets of values. A law-abiding person is quite easy to identify and becomes a beacon for the state in setting a moral standard, though the language of morality is more scientific in its usage in philosophical inquiry.