With the current legal system, there are both state and federal laws, but we all have a set of rules which we have to abide by: i.e., constitution. Albeit, the interpretation of law does not escape the problem of relativism entirely, but we at least have some rigidity and rule-based delegation of power, as well as a universal set of beliefs, to solve problems.But when we rely on the customs of the society, then there is no mechanism readily available for the resolution of problems, and there is likewise no case law to ensure a quick resolution for when the problem comes about again; because cases can be cited as a means to use the rulings of previous judges to determine the case at hand.
The laws which confer powers to designated individuals, such as the constitution, allow for a resolution to occur amongst those who have conflicts which stem from custom.
How Laws Progress Society: Stasis
mere custom, a change of any drastic sort would be an impossible feat. Certainly, some changes could slowly occur, as such changes do occur naturally: i.e., sociolinguistic variation can occur within one generation of a family. This form of change would be a good example of a rapid cultural change.
However, the core social roles, the core moral beliefs, and the rules of behaviour are not only passed along to the younger generations in near verbatim fashion, but are also incredibly difficult to change. For instance, affluence has always been viewed positively throughout European culture, yet some east-asian cultures view materialism in a far less favourable light. Since that is the case, it seems that the human nature argument, that is, the argument which supposes humans instinctively view affluence as a positive thing, will not help us here. Instead, the rigidity of cultural beliefs as they are passed between generations seems to do well in explaining such rigid beliefs over time.
So, the laws are important for the progress of society. The laws of society progress society by solving the problem of stasis; when a social-ill arises, we can bring it to the attention of the courts, who have been delegated the responsibility of maintaining social order. We would not have to wait for cultural beliefs to change.And furthermore, it is tempting for us to simply say, “we shall propose some mechanism to change the cultural beliefs of the society, we do not need a law to change social customs”; but in our supposing of such a mechanism, we have created a law. We would have produced either a bill or doctrine to guide human behaviour. In this regard, the central planning of culture is a function of law: social order.