The lack of a common ethical system means the behaviour is dependent on the individual's perception of what is appropriate or inappropriate and on the structural sanctions society can effectively apply. This tends to force the legal system to assume the role of guarding the morality of the social system. Immorality is equated with illegality. Those who choose a moral life are relieved of the burden of freedom of choice by following the letter of the law. Those choosing an immoral life are left with avoiding being caught.
In Hinduism and Buddhism, there is a distinct understanding of moral decline as a process of forgetting one's true identity and purpose as a result of distraction by the material world.