What Is Law?


Law is a social institution that regulates human behavior and serves the needs of a society. It aims at keeping the peace, maintaining the status quo, protecting individual rights, protecting minorities against majorities, promoting social justice, and providing for orderly social change.

It can also be used to describe a set of rules that must be followed by people in order for them to be considered “lawful.” This concept originated with philosopher Hans Kelsen and is called the “pure theory of law” (Kelsen 1927). Other definitions of law include laws in the sciences, the principles of natural law, and the observer-centric perspective on law.

Observer-centric perspectives define law as the way things happen rather than as the reason they happen. This is an approach that is popular with sociologists and anthropologists who argue that social relationships should be understood as a social construction rather than a natural process.

According to these perspectives, laws are derived from both internal sources and external ones. The internal sources of law are often rules enacted by governments, such as the constitution of the country, and external sources are moral philosophy, religion, human reason and individual conscience.

For example, the law of natural justice (also called the rule of law) is a system of ethics that aims to guide human action in a fair and just manner. The laws of justice can be applied to individual or group acts, such as a lawsuit or a crime.

The law of justice can be viewed as a social construct because it can be changed by changing social norms and beliefs. This can be done by politicians or judges making decisions that affect everyone in the society.

This type of social construct is not always successful because it can also be corrupted and abused by individuals or groups within the society. Hence, the law of justice should be strict enough to prevent abuse but not so strict that it is impossible to change.

Some legal systems do not satisfy all these purposes and may be oppressive, especially under a dictatorship. However, many legal systems have served the needs of their societies for thousands of years.

One of the most common types of law is civil law, which deals with a range of issues. It includes areas such as contracts, property, and labor law.

Civil law is mainly a legislative system, but it allows room for interpretation and creative jurisprudence by the judiciary. It is a comprehensive system, with the rules and principles usually arranged in codes that are easily accessible to citizens and jurists.

In some jurisdictions, law is based on statutes, but in other countries it is based on regulations and codes of conduct that are formulated by national governments and endorsed by international organizations such as the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Other types of laws are derived from religious precepts, and some of them are unalterable because they are based on the word of God. Examples include Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia.