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What Is Law?

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Law is the system of rules, customs and practices that are recognized as binding on a group of people. These rules are enforced by a controlling authority such as governmental or social institutions. Societal viewpoints on law reflect on rationality, justice, morality and order. Judges also consider the law to be a mechanism for regulating human behavior and actions. Law encompasses a broad range of topics, from the practice of advising clients about legal matters to the procedures that must be followed in a court case.

The precise definition of law is a subject of debate. Many books and articles have been written on the subject. Different philosophers have developed a wide variety of ideas about what the term means.

One common view of law is that it refers to a set of rules created by a state that form a framework for a peaceful society. These rules must be adhered to and sanctions can be imposed if they are not. This is a good definition for those who wish to define the term in a positive sense.

A more critical view of law is that it refers to the rule of power in a society. In this view, laws should be clear and simple so that people can understand them and follow them. The law should also be reasonably stable, so that people can plan over a long period of time and know what legal consequences their actions may have.

Other philosophers have viewed the law in negative terms, as something that is nothing more than power backed by threats. For example, some have argued that the Nazis killed six million Jews because they were following German law. Others have criticized this interpretation of the law, pointing out that it is the sovereign who has the power to issue orders that are not legal, and that citizens can vote “out” their government officials if they feel they are not doing a good job.

A more neutral view of the law is that it is a system in which rights are enshrined and protected and a degree of transparency exists about the way the government manages public resources. In this view, the law should be able to be used by people of all backgrounds and social classes to challenge the government’s actions.

Other fields of law include administrative law, which includes regulations on the operation of a particular entity, such as a bank or airline; competition law, which involves rules about businesses using their economic influence to control prices and limit consumer choice; labour law, which covers workplace issues such as collective bargaining and the right to strike; and criminal law, which deals with offenses against civil liberties, such as murder. Another field of law is international law, which encompasses issues such as international treaties and foreign relations.

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