What is Law?


Law (pronounced lee-wah) is the body of rules and regulations that govern the way people live. In most nations, laws are created by a government and citizens must follow them or face punishment for breaking them.

Laws can keep the peace, maintain the status quo, protect individual rights, promote social justice, and provide for orderly social change. Some legal systems serve these purposes better than others.

The word “law” can mean the system of rules and regulations that govern a particular place, or it can refer to a profession that deals with laws. Lawyers are those who advise people about their rights, represent them in court, and give decisions and punishments.

What are rights?

A right is a claim or demand to be treated or not treated as a person. It is typically for or in some sense entitles the right-holder; and it may be dependent on other factors for its validity, such as enforcement or recognition by other people.

Consider, for example, a legal system of public duties to respect and safeguard the interests of others but without correlative rights (at least not held by those benefiting from these duties). This would be what is sometimes called a demand theory of rights.

The most widely accepted and influential theory of rights is the Hohfeldian view that rights embody legal relations between right-holders. This picture of rights is comfortable within the prevailing jurisprudential tradition that emphasizes morally righteous norms not dependent on social convention or recognition. It also suggests that a person’s liability to a particular power, or her capacity for changing that power, is a correlative element in her right.