The Concept of Law

The Concept of Law


The law is a system of rules that a government or society develops to deal with crime, business agreements and social relationships. The term is also used to refer to the people who work in this system of rule making, enforcement and punishment. The law is often distinguished from mere suggestions or good advice by the fact that it is enforced and carries a consequence. A person who makes obscene or threatening phone calls is against the law and can be punished with imprisonment and fines.

The concept of law has evolved through a variety of influences and movements. Some of the most influential ideas have been developed by philosophers such as Max Weber who reshaped thinking on the extension of state power, and James Madison who created a framework for our government that includes checks and balances to prevent any one individual from being able to gain complete control over our country.

Today, the idea of law continues to evolve in response to a variety of social and political issues. The law is an important part of our lives, and it shapes many aspects of our daily activities. For example, contracts and banking laws regulate the way that we exchange goods and services; labour law concerns the tripartite relationship between worker, employer and trade union; and property law defines our rights and duties toward tangible assets like cars or houses. Other areas of the law are more abstract and less obvious, such as the regulations that protect us from false advertising or the rules that courts follow as they hear and decide cases.

In addition, there are a variety of legal terms that are often used by scholars and practitioners to describe specific types of laws. Some of these terms include a legal positivist view of the law (the law is simply the set of rules that a sovereign ruler establishes), a natural rights approach to the law, and an ethic of duty and morality within the law.

Regardless of these different approaches, there is agreement that laws serve four broad purposes: they establish standards, maintain order, resolve disputes and protect liberties and rights. Often these goals are in conflict with each other, and some systems of law are better at serving certain objectives than others. For example, an authoritarian government may keep the peace and preserve the status quo, but it can oppress minorities or political opponents. This is the reason that the modern notion of judicial review focuses on ensuring that governmental agencies have provided adequate explanations for their decisions and are not arbitrarily choosing among options. In contrast, a democratic government is more likely to strive for the highest standards of fairness and decency in their decisions. In some societies, these values are reflected in laws that forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In other countries, they are reflected in laws that protect the rights of children and women. In still other places, these values are embodied in the sanctity of human life laws.