What Is Law?


Law is a system of rules that governs the behavior of individuals and groups in society. These rules may be created by people in positions of power like politicians and are enforced by police or by courts. Some laws are written while others are based on custom or religion. The term can also refer to the professions of lawyers and jurists who advise people on legal issues and represent them in court.

The precise definition of law is a matter of debate. Some academics argue that it is a set of normative social science disciplines that try to describe what ought to occur in society. This is known as a descriptive theory of law. Others think that law is a coercive tool that attempts to control societies. Roscoe Pound created this law definition, which argues that laws are designed to fulfill certain social wants.

In modern times, most countries create laws to regulate the way they do business and interact with each other. They do this by writing a constitution for an overall framework and making further laws to guide specific activities. In many countries, a group of politicians called a parliament or congress make the laws for the whole country. They are elected by the governed peoples to do this.

There are different types of laws, including criminal, civil, constitutional and administrative. These laws deal with a wide range of topics, from regulating international trade to defining the rights of a child. Criminal law tries to stop people from breaking the rules, while civil law deals with disputes between parties in a lawsuit. Constitutional law outlines the important rights of the government and its relationship with the citizens. Administrative law focuses on the way that government agencies work and the way they make decisions.

Many laws are based on cultural and religious beliefs and books, such as the Jewish Halakha, Islamic Sharia and the Christian Canon law. People in a culture tend to trust ideas that are supported by family and community traditions, so these often become part of the law. The laws of a nation are often influenced by its history and the previous governments that ruled it.

The primary functions of the law are to keep the peace, preserve the status quo and protect individual rights. Some laws are more effective at these tasks than others. For example, an authoritarian regime might keep the peace but it could oppress minorities or political opponents. In contrast, a democratic system might promote social justice but it may not be very effective at keeping the peace.