The Definition of Law


Law is the body of rules established by a community that are recognised and enforced through its judicial system. Its four main purposes are establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights.

The law is a complex subject with a range of deeper dimensions, such as how people are treated by it regardless of their social status or wealth and whether core human, procedural and property rights are protected by it. In addition, it is a normative and prescriptive discipline, which means that it sets out how people ought to behave or not.

A major issue in the study of law is how to define it. A key aspect is the distinction between natural and man-made/human laws. The latter are based on the assumptions of a particular societal narrative, which is influenced by many cultures. These narratives often have a different perspective on the nature of reality, and they can vary from one culture to another.

The definition of law has been shaped by the different social systems that have existed throughout history. For example, Roman law was heavily influenced by Greek philosophy and it developed detailed legal codes that were adopted by the medieval courts in Europe. These civil code systems replaced the local law that had previously been in place.

The law is a constantly evolving, flowing process. As a result, it can be difficult to pin down a clear and unambiguous definition of it.