What is Law?


Law is the system of rules created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behaviour. Its precise definition has been a longstanding topic of debate. A number of theorists have attempted to categorize law, including some who have viewed it as a science (such as empirical or natural laws like the law of gravity) and others who have viewed it as an art of justice.

One feature that distinguishes law from other sciences is that it contains normative statements. This makes it a prescriptive rather than descriptive discipline, since it tells people what they ought to do and forbids them from doing other things. Hence it is not possible to verify the contents of law by empirical means as one can verify the contents of statements in the sciences or arts.

The law is also unique from a methodological viewpoint in that it deals with human actions and their consequences. This distinguishes it from the other disciplines that have a normative aspect, such as those of empirical or social science (such as the laws of gravity or supply and demand in economics).

It is for these reasons that the study of law is often considered a separate discipline from the science of politics and other subjects. However, the study of law is often incorporated into other subjects such as history and philosophy. Its subject matter extends to virtually all aspects of life. Typical topics include: contract law; criminal law and civil procedure; labour law, property law, medical jurisprudence and evidence law.

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