What is Law?


Law is a system of rules created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. Its precise definition is a matter of longstanding debate. It has been variously described as a science and as the art of justice.

The fundamental problem with describing law is that it is entirely contingent on humans and their mental operations. This means that there is no way to empirically verify whether any particular set of rules comprises precepts which are truly important or not. Furthermore, because the laws are based on human decisions, the laws can only be understood and applied by humans.

Because the defining characteristics of law are so diverse, law varies enormously from place to place and time to time. It also changes as societies change and grow, as social problems are resolved or ignored, and as new issues arise.

Some of the major fields in law are criminal law, civil law, family law and business/commercial law. Each of these areas has a broad range of sub-fields. In many jurisdictions, the courts are responsible for interpreting and applying the laws they receive from legislative bodies and executive branch agencies.

Some legal systems have a strong tradition of codification and uniformity. This is especially true for commercial law, where commercial codes have been used to standardize and facilitate international trade. However, most other jurisdictions have a more varied and dynamic legal landscape. This is largely because political power in these places depends on who is able to command military and other forms of state authority, which results in different sets of laws from country to country.