What Is Law?

What Is Law?


Law is a set of rules that are created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has a broad range of applications, from antitrust laws to civil procedure to the rules that determine what evidence courts can consider in hearing cases. Law may be established by a legislature, resulting in statutes; by the executive, resulting in decrees and regulations; or by judges through precedent (in common law jurisdictions). In addition to laws that regulate individuals’ relationships with each other, law can also govern a variety of objects and events, including property, contracts, and war.

Law can be defined in a number of ways, from utilitarian theories that focus on the impact of actions on others to mystical and moral beliefs about natural laws that cannot change. In the latter case, laws reflect a higher authority than man and are binding on all people. For example, the laws of gravity state that objects fall down if they are attached to a tree or the Earth, and the strength of this law is dependent on the mass of the objects and the distance between them.

One of the central questions in the philosophy of law is whether or not legal rights are real. If they are, then they have a certain “normative weight” that preempts other reasons to ph and to act, even when those reasons outweigh the benefits of pursuing or defending a right. However, as many philosophers have pointed out, it is not clear that the notion of a legal right really provides this kind of a priori value (see Lyons 1994: 13; Skorupski 2010: 310-311; Gilbert 2018).

The study of law involves a range of subfields. Labour law, for instance, examines the tripartite industrial relationship between employer, worker and trade union; it is concerned with collective bargaining regulation and the right to strike. Criminal law studies a nation’s criminal punishments and procedures, while evidence law encompasses which materials are admissible in court.

The definition of law can vary across countries, with each having its own unique set of laws. This can be due to the fact that different cultures view issues differently, or that each country has its own history and tradition of lawmaking and application. For example, the United States has a long and complicated history of changing its constitution to fit the needs of its people. The United Nations is an international organization whose Charter calls on its members to facilitate the peaceful settlement of international disputes, and to encourage the progressive development and codification of law. This has led to the creation of many multilateral treaties on a wide variety of issues. These treaties are often cited in the Supreme Court of the United States, a branch of the American justice system that hears appeals from cases that were decided by other courts or by other means. These international agreements are often referred to as treaty law or public international law.