The Concept of Law

The law (plural: laws) is the set of rules created by a government that dictates the way people must behave in public. These rules are enforced through mechanisms, such as police, that punish those who break the law. The law is also the basis for civil and criminal courts, which adjudicate disputes between individuals or organizations.

The concept of law is complex and debated. Some scholars, such as Roscoe Pound, have defined law as a means of social control that functions by imposing coercive rules on the citizenry. Others, such as Hans Kelsen, have proposed a ‘pure theory of law’ that defines the laws as a system of normative science.

Other definitions include the idea that the law reflects a moral stance and protects people against cruelty, for example in criminal law. Some laws also seem to be based on financial considerations, such as the prohibition against insider trading and rules about best practice in investments. The law also includes a variety of rules about the provision of utilities, such as water and energy.

The word law is also used to refer to the professions that involve advising people about the legal system, representing them in court, or giving decisions and punishments. These professions include lawyers, judges, and police. The law also refers to the legal systems that are in use, such as the common law, which relies on articulating a historical succession of legal principles and the canon law, which draws on ancient texts for its legal ideas.