What Is Law?


Law is the set of rules that form a framework to ensure a peaceful society. They are enforced by the state and if they are broken sanctions can be imposed. There is a wide range of definitions of Law and many books contain different ideas about it.

Some people believe that the definition of Law should include morality. They argue that a law must be morally right in order to be obeyed. However, most people do not agree on this point.

The main purpose of law is to establish standards, maintain order, resolve disputes and protect liberties and rights. Laws can be created by the state or by other private organisations. The most important law of all is the constitution, which sets out a framework for a democratic country.

Other laws can be passed by parliament, for example taxation, immigration and environmental legislation. The law of contracts regulates the terms and conditions of commercial transactions, the law of property protects ownership of assets and the law of torts covers injuries to persons or property. Regulation law, which focuses on the management of utilities like water and energy, is another type of legal system.

There are also specialised laws which cover such areas as intellectual property, the environment and the use of force in war. Some laws are general, for example traffic law, but many others apply only to specific groupings such as children or drivers.

A law is usually a written document or code. It can be a statute, a code or a treaty. A law can also refer to a specific paragraph within a legal document such as a contract or an agreement. A lawyer is a person who practises law, and may have the title Esquire or Doctor of Law.

The philosophical origins of Law are complex. Philosophers have debated the nature of the Law for centuries. One school of thought is utilitarianism, which argues that the Law should be obeyed because it is a form of order. This view was popularised by Jeremy Bentham. Other schools of thought, such as natural law, argue that the Law is a set of moral principles that are inherent in human nature. This concept of natural law was originally formulated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

There are other theories of Law, including legal positivism which argues that law is simply a set of orders backed by the threat of sanction by a sovereign. Others, such as Max Weber, reshaped thinking about the extension of the law to everyday activities of life which were not previously regulated by the state.