After all, doesn't it seem strange that Law should (or could ever possibly) stand in for Good? Chaos, sure. The very name is synonymous with evil and unwholesome (or at least suspicious) stuff to be feared and avoided. But some question Law as GOOD...
After all, not every law is good or remotely just!
Enter the Paladin's Problem. This guy is supposed to uphold both the law AND the good. But what if something as clearly evil as slavery is legal and enshrined by the same institutions the paladin has sworn themselves to serve and protect? What happens when law collides with the good? It's a tough question, and one whose answer points to how a traditional system of Law/Chaos might actually be superior compared to (later) D&D's axis...
Now, many scoff at the idea of Law and Chaos as sufficient to represent the full range of choices or to serve as anything remotely close to enough. But there's something to it:
So first off, some basics. Most everyone (or a large enough percentage to effectively count as such) is concerned with their own life and well-being. They seek out food, clothing, shelter, and meaningful things and/or activities - and no one thinks them selfish for doing so! Because we've all gotta eat, right?
This is the default setting for most. But what does it take to consider the life and well-being of OTHERS? I mean, when a starving person steals a loaf of bread from a wealthy shop owner, only the most hard-hearted see them as anything but desperate and wanting to survive. But take an old lady's Social Security check to finance your heroin habit, and you're a monster, am I right?
Because one is a wealthy person who can afford to part with that single bit of bread to feed someone who might DIE without it and has no other way of getting it, and the other is a helpless widow with little more but a pittance to live on, meaning she suffers more from the loss, and all for a totally SELFISH habit!
Whose life and well-being is being served? And at what cost to the life and well-being of another? It's a matter of proportion.
But what really divides the GOOD from the EVIL is the ability to consider the well-being of OTHERS as co-equal to our own, and limiting our actions accordingly. Rape and murder are off the table once we decide that others have a right NOT to suffer so we can satisfy our own desires. This is the LAW we impose upon ourselves that limits us in DEFERENCE TO OTHERS. Thus, Law is GOOD...
And what is a personal CODE, after all, if not a self-imposed LAW that demands respect for the life of others?
Evil stops at the self. Sure, play nice when it's convenient, or whenever there's something to be gained. But draw the line if inconvenient or when profitable to do otherwise. It's a failure to move beyond the default setting. And this should worry all of us, because the whole of evil is INSIDE ALL OF US, tempered only by our capacity to extend our consideration to those around us.
Thus, we have Law (Good) following the Golden Rule (or Law) and behaving predictably in deference to others, and Chaos (Evil) acting selfishly and unpredictably because you can't count on them NOT thrusting a dagger in your back when they stand to gain from doing so, making it the best description for sure!
Now, back to the Paladin's Problem. They can freely invoke their internal CODE (Law) in support of Good and oppose an obviously evil practice, like slavery, and the temporal laws that allow it.
Note here that a distinction is made between Law as an abstract philosophy and (lower-case) laws created by governments to stabilize society. Failure to recognize this leads to the Paladin's Problem in situations of conflict. But our system doesn't.
Furthermore, a simple axis of Law/Neutrality/Chaos provides an objective basis for clerics and magic items tied to, and requiring, specific behaviors while simultaneously remaining open enough to pacify the nay-sayers. Whether or not you agree with our position is one thing, but it DOES form the basis for our Pits & Perils system, and not just because it's simplified! And the "good" men do becomes a self-imposed "law" that respects the lives of others...