What is the meaning of the oath which witnesses continue to recite before testifying in a court of law? This Commandment appears to have a lesser status than others, in that it seems to play a role in merely legal matters, yet its importance is greater than it seems. It involves the everyday life of each of us and calls into play individuals' morality, the difficulty of their choices and the ethical nature of collective norms. To be a witness of truth before God, before others, and in any circumstance, entails opting for behaviour than does not harm our peers. This mandate fails to address any problem concerning the source of truth and norms, thus revealing the constantly problematic relationship between ethics and law.
Tullio Padovani teaches Criminal Law at the Sant'Anna University in Pisa.
Vincenzo Vitiello teaches Philosophy of History at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan.