What Is Law?


Law is the set of rules that a group of people agree upon to govern their conduct. There are many different types of laws, such as the rules of civil law and the rules of criminal law.

In most countries, the government has power to make and enforce laws. Usually, these are made through a legislature or by the executive through decrees and regulations. Sometimes, private individuals also create legally binding contracts or agreements.

The exact definition of law is a matter of debate. Some people see it as a science, while others see it as the art of justice.

Some people consider the rules of the law to be absolute. They say that laws must be obeyed, even if they don’t make sense to you or to other people.

Whether there are absolute rules of law is a question that has occupied philosophers since ancient times. Some of them, such as Thomas Aquinas and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, believe that there are moral laws in the natural world that are immutable.

Other philosophers, such as John Austin, believe that laws are merely commands that people obey, from a sovereign. These are often referred to as “utilitarian” theories of law.

A third group of philosophers, such as Joel Feinberg and Stephen Darwall, argue that there are legal rights. These are norms that entitle certain people to certain things.

They may be active (privilege-rights) or passive (power-rights). These rights are based on Hohfeldian forms, which are exhibited by first-order norms that determine what the relevant parties can do and what they cannot do.

Another theory of rights is called a demand theory, which suggests that there are right-holders who can claim or demand their own rights. This theory is supported by Stephen Darwall and Joel Feinberg, among others.

These scholars argue that there are some kinds of rights that can only be claimed, such as the right to life or the right to freedom. They also argue that there are other kinds of rights that can only be demanded, such as the right to privacy or the right to equality.

There are also some rules of law that are unchangeable, such as religious laws. These include the Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia, which are based on a precept of God.

The laws of nature are also considered to be absolute. They describe how the world works, and are inexplicable unless they are explained by other scientific theories.

A number of different theories have been proposed in order to understand the origins and functions of law. Some of these theories, such as the Kelsen-Savigny theory, have been accepted by the majority of scholars and governments worldwide.

Most governments around the world, however, disagree on the precise definition of law. The United States’ constitution defines law as a set of rules that is created and enforced by governmental entities to regulate behavior. Other countries have other systems, such as civil law and customary law.