What Is Law?

Law is a system of rules created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. Its precise definition is a matter of longstanding debate and it has been variously described as a science and as the art of justice. Law is a subject of scholarly inquiry in legal history, philosophy, economic analysis and sociology.

Legal systems vary widely across the world, even within a single country, but they do share some features based on historically accepted justice ideals. Whether a system is considered civil or common law, there are certain universal principles that are enshrined in most legal systems, including the protection of core human and procedural rights.

The law consists of many different parts, or subjects, which often overlap and interact with each other. The most familiar are criminal and civil law, which cover the punishment of wrongdoers and the resolution of lawsuits respectively. However, the law also covers such issues as labour and employment, intellectual property and family law.

For example, employment law deals with a tripartite industrial relationship between worker, employer and trade unions and includes the right to strike. Intellectual property law, on the other hand, protects a creator’s right to a copyright or trademark, which can be used to prevent unauthorised use of their work. Family law can include divorce proceedings, custody of children and rights to property and money following a separation.

In addition to these broad subjects, law can be applied in specific situations. For example, in the case of a crime committed against a public official, police may use criminal law to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators. Civil law can also be used in the context of a business transaction, where contracts are enforceable under civil law.

It is important to note that, despite the wide application of the law in society, there is no possible empirical verification of what constitutes the law. This is because the shape of the physical world and people’s mental operations mean that it is not possible for laws to mandate behaviours that are beyond the range of human capabilities or force people to do things which are against their nature.

For this reason, it is important to understand the limitations of the law in order not to be misled. In the scholarly community, this is achieved by understanding that the law is not a set of rules but is rather a betting system that predicts the outcome of a variable – in this case the behaviour of bad men. The closer a betting system is to the judicial community’s ideal of objectivity, the more useful it will be. This is why it is important for the judicial community to keep up with current scientific thinking on this issue.