What Is Law?

Law is a system of rules that regulates human behavior in a society. These rules are enforced by a controlling authority through the use of sanctions. Law serves several purposes but the four principal ones are establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights.

Different people have different ideas about what law is. Nevertheless, most definitions of law are similar in some ways. Most define law as a system of rules that are created and maintained by the government in order to control human behavior. This system of rules is based on the belief that certain actions are wrong and should not be tolerated.

Other definitions of law are more philosophical and try to explain what makes a law legitimate. Some, like Bentham’s utilitarian theory, argue that a law is a command backed by the threat of sanctions issued by a sovereign. Other philosophers, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, suggest that law reflects innate moral principles that are unchanging.

The most common law concerns a particular geographic area, such as a nation or a state. However, there are specialized fields of law such as tort law (when someone is injured by another’s actions) and criminal law (when crimes are committed against the government itself). Law also has many layers of complexity. For example, a large debate is occurring over how much a judge should be influenced by their own sense of right and wrong or whether the law should incorporate morals at all.

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