What Is Law?

Law is the system of rules that a society or government develops in order to deal with crime, business agreements, and social relationships. It also refers to the people who work in this system, such as lawyers and judges.

In the sciences, a law is an indisputable fact about how the world and its forces work. For example, Boyle’s law states that the volume of an ideal gas will remain the same when its pressure and temperature change.

Legal rights are creatures of law, and their status as legal is a matter of justification (Raz 1970: 183-283; MacCormick 1977: 189 & 206; Sumner 1987: 68-70). Typically, justification involves a legal norm that flows from or grounds the right in other law. For example, the legal rule “Every person has a right in his good name” is justified by a biblical commandment that “Thou shalt not respect persons, nor take a gift” (Deuteronomy 16:18).

The principal functions of law are to ensure justice and preserve peace, maintain the status quo, and protect individual rights. It is the role of political power (as opposed to military power) to make and enforce laws, and each nation-state (as the term is used in international law) has a unique mix of social and cultural characteristics that determine how the legal system works there. Nonetheless, certain basic features of the law are universal:

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