What Is Law?


Law is the system of rules that governs people’s interactions. It encompasses an extraordinarily broad range of topics, from contracts to property and everything in between. It is a part of everyday life, whether we are discussing buying a bus ticket or trading options on the derivatives market.

Some legal systems are dominated by the state, while others have a variety of social institutions that make and enforce laws. Most nations have laws, but their content varies considerably from nation to nation. For example, some legal systems respect the rights of minorities whereas others oppress them. Law can serve several purposes in a society: it may keep the peace, maintain social stability, protect individuals against majorities, and encourage social change.

The term “law” can refer to any set of social or governmental rules that regulate human activities. The precise definition of a law is a subject of long-standing debate and can depend on one’s perspective. The word “law” is often used in a broad sense to include any commandments and regulations of the Old Testament Scriptures.

Some philosophers have used the term “law” to describe any set of rules that are enforceable by institutions with authority to do so. This is the view that Blackstone held, which also influenced our Founding Fathers. Other legal theorists have distinguished between rules that are legally binding and rules that do not legally bind. Legally binding rules are called legal rights and have a correlative duty that is owed by the right-holder to the right-object (or, more narrowly, by the right-subject to the right-object). Rules that do not legally bind are referred to as unenforceable rules.

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