Law is a system of rules that governs the behavior of individuals and a society. It can be created by a legislature, producing statutes and regulations, or by the executive branch of government in the form of decrees and orders. Private individuals can also create legal obligations and contracts, as well as create their own courts to settle disputes in. The law shapes politics, economics and history in many ways and raises complex issues concerning equality and justice.
Law covers a huge number of topics, but is generally categorized into two main areas: criminal law and civil law. The former deals with conduct that is judged to be harmful to social order and can result in punishment, such as imprisonment or fines. The latter deals with the resolution of lawsuits (disputes) between individuals or groups, and includes such matters as family, property and commercial law.
Other topics of law include aviation law; antitrust law; capital punishment; criminal procedure; employment discrimination; and environmental law. Regulatory law addresses the management of public services and utilities such as water, energy and telecommunications.
While there are some general principles of the law, each area has its own unique aspects. For example, scientific laws such as the law of gravity are considered to be true by most people because they can be proven through observation and experiment, while laws based on morality or social philosophy may be subject to interpretation and change over time, as scientific research reveals new information about how humans behave.