What is Law?


Law is a set of rules that a society or government develops in order to deal with issues such as crime and business agreements. It can also refer to a particular branch of the law, such as criminal law or commercial law.

There are many different theories about Law. Karl Marx, for example, argued that primitive societies were free from conflict and that the introduction of Law allowed ruling classes to exploit working class. He believed that only through revolution could the balance of power be restored and equality achieved in society.

A legal system requires human elaboration and is therefore not fully objective. Its content is influenced by religious precepts such as Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia, and Christian canon law. Other influences are cultural, anthropological, sociological and economic. For instance, contract law regulates agreements between parties such as a lease or a sale, and property law defines people’s rights to tangible and intangible assets (i.e. land and cars) as well as their responsibilities toward them.

A Law has several characteristics which make it unique in comparison to other sciences and disciplines. First, it is normative and prescriptive, whereas empirical science such as physics is descriptive. Moreover, there is no means to empirically verify the contents of a Law as it is purely a matter of choice whether a law comprises precepts that are morally or socially desirable. This is because Law is dependent on the shape of the physical world and its limitations, i.e. it cannot mandate behaviours which are unattainable and force people to do things that are beyond their abilities.

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