What Is Law?


Law shapes politics, economics and history and serves as a mediator of relations among people. It imposes standards on both government and citizens, settles disputes, protects property and human rights and ensures equal justice for all. In general there are two types of legal systems in the world: (a) civil law jurisdictions which codify their laws and consolidate them into unified codes; and (b) common law systems which are based on judge-made precedent. The law also includes religious laws based on divine commandments such as Jewish Halakha, Islamic Sharia and Christian canon law which continue to play a role in the lives of some church communities.

The Law is a complex subject from a philosophical perspective and differs from other sciences and disciplines in that normative statements are devoid of descriptive or causal character, unlike empirical science (as the law of gravity) or social science (such as the law of supply and demand). In addition the law does not have the same checks on its authoritativeness found in other sciences and disciplines such as a well formulated theory of good and evil or evidence-based scientific reasoning such as in mathematics or physics.

The Law has numerous branches such as contract law, property law (which defines people’s rights and duties toward tangible and intangible property) and tort law (which provides compensation when someone is harmed by the actions of another person). Modern lawyers achieve their distinct professional identity through specified and legally regulated procedures such as studying for and passing a law degree or higher academic qualifications including a Master of Laws or Doctor of Laws.

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