The Nature of Law


Law is a set of rules created by the government that citizens must obey. These rules can be enforced by mechanisms that punish those who break them. Examples of laws include ones against stealing and murder. Laws can also apply to a larger geographic area, such as a country or state.

The purpose of law is to control human behavior by establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes, and protecting liberties and rights. Different nations have varying approaches to achieving these purposes. For example, the nation of France uses a constitution, which is the basis of its legal system. The constitution provides a framework for creating and changing laws. This system has helped France remain a democracy and a free society. In contrast, the nation of Iran has a centralized state that uses strict Islamic laws to govern its people.

A number of theories have been developed to explain the nature of law. A prominent one is utilitarian, which states that law is a set of commands backed by the threat of sanctions from a sovereign to whom people have a habit of obedience. Other theories, such as that of natural law, say that law reflects innate moral principles.

Another important consideration in determining the nature of law is whether it should be based on custom or on the will of the people. Friedrich Karl von Savigny argued that law should be based on customs because they are more natural. Others, such as Hans Kelsen, have proposed the ‘pure theory of law’. This theory says that the law is a ‘normative science’. It does not attempt to describe what must occur; rather, it defines rules that individuals must abide by.

Some aspects of law that are important to a functioning society include fair and equitable treatment, a sense of security, and the freedom of expression. Other essential aspects include accountable government, clear and publicized laws, and stability and consistency in the application of the law. A key factor in the development of law is the ability of people to challenge government decisions and procedures.

There are many terms and definitions related to law that may not be widely known. Some of these terms and definitions are: