What Is Law?

Law is a set of rules that govern human behavior and control conflicts. These rules are created and enforced by governments, although other institutions may also be involved. Laws are designed to promote a just society and protect individual rights. Many countries have different laws, depending on their cultures and history.

The study of law is a broad discipline, covering the entire range of social and economic life. Oxford Reference provides more than 34,000 concise definitions and in-depth, specialist encyclopedic entries across this area of research, from criminal law, tax and social security law, human rights law, and family law, to international law, constitutional law, and legal theory.

One of the most important functions of law is to maintain peace and stability in a nation. This is often accomplished by imposing a political structure that limits the powers of individuals, a system that is called democracy. Laws are also intended to protect property, prevent war, punish criminals, and provide for orderly social change. In nations that are less stable, the legal system may be used to oppress minorities or political opponents.

Laws are based on the assumption that the universe is ordered, which is called natural law. This concept of law is the most common view. It explains how things work in the world around us, but it does not explain how we can know that the laws of the universe are true or why they should be obeyed. The other major view of law is the scientific view, which explains how laws are discovered and tested through experiments. This is known as natural science.

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