What Is Law?

What Is Law?

Law is the system of rules created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. Its precise definition is a matter of longstanding debate, with a range of approaches being advocated. Generally, law is viewed as the foundation for a civil society and an essential component of a democratic state.

Legal scholars have written numerous books on law, with the majority of them arguing that laws are a set of instructions that govern a particular area of human activity and serve many purposes, such as maintaining order, resolving disputes, protecting liberties and rights, and establishing standards. Law also serves to delineate and protect the boundaries of one’s privacy, property, and identity.

There are many types of law, including labour law, criminal law, civil procedure, family law, constitutional law, and law of the seas. Each of these focuses on a different aspect of the law. For example, labour law concerns the tripartite industrial relationship between employer, employee, and trade union. This can involve issues such as job security, health and safety, and pay. Criminal law, on the other hand, deals with the punishment of those who commit crimes. Civil procedure, in turn, covers the rules that courts must follow as they hold trials and appeals. Family law involves the rights of parents and children. Constitutional law concerns the principles and values that a country adheres to. The law of the seas outlines the rights and obligations of those who live in the ocean and on its shores.

The philosophy of law has evolved over time. Hans Kelsen developed the pure theory of law, which defines law as a normative science that explains what should occur but does not prescribe how it should occur. In contrast, Friedrich Karl von Savigny believed that law is an organic process resulting from customs, and that it varies with age, social group, and culture.

Other philosophers have argued that the law is nothing more than power backed by threats, which is not a good idea because it can make people feel as though they are at the mercy of those in power. Critics of this view have pointed out that some laws do appear to reflect a moral stance, for example, the prohibition against insider trading and due process.

The law is a complex concept, with an infinite number of possible interpretations and applications. A person interested in the study of law may wish to pursue a career in law, which includes being an attorney or a judge. This article focuses on the field of law as it pertains to human society, and other articles on this site explore the law in more detail. For additional reading, see the articles on constitutional law; criminology; and economics.