What Defines Law?


Law is a body of rules that bind individuals, families and society. These rules are usually enacted and enforced by the government and may involve civil institutions, such as parliaments and courts.

The word “law” derives from the Latin term legio, meaning “law”. It is an umbrella concept that encompasses a wide variety of disciplines and professions concerned with the customs, practices and rules of a particular community that are recognized as binding.

It shapes politics, economics, history and society in a multitude of ways. It is also a mediator of relations between people, regulating human behavior and promoting social justice.

In the modern period, there has been a debate over what defines law. Some have argued that law is a morally neutral institution, reflecting essentially unchanging laws of nature. Others have argued that law is a social institution, reflecting the common consciousness of a particular community.

While both views have been criticized for lacking clarity, it is important to recognize that they each contain important aspects of reality. Moreover, while they differ in the ways that they define law, they do share some basic assumptions about the role of law and its utility to science.

First, the underlying assumption behind these definitions is that the law is a rational decision, not a story that has been learned. This assumption can be traced back to the Greek philosophers, who viewed a moral law as a rational rule that must be obeyed.

Second, the underlying assumption is that law is a normative science, defining only certain things to do and not attempting to describe every possible situation. This perspective is supported by the work of Hans Kelsen and Friedrich Karl von Savigny, who gave what they called ‘pure theory’ and ‘historical law’ definitions of law respectively.

Third, the underlying assumption is that law is probabilistic, not deterministic. This view, supported by the work of John Austin and Jeremy Bentham, has become an essential part of Western legal theory.

Fourth, the underlying assumption is that law is inherently normative and that it incorporates morality. This is a central component of the utilitarian model of law, and has shaped many important areas of legal theory.

Fifth, the underlying assumption is that law is subjective and that it is based on a person’s experience. This assumption has been used by the philosophes of law to argue for the importance of law in forming personal identity and values, such as the idea that every person is equal before the law.

It is therefore necessary to understand what exactly constitutes the law, how it can be understood and how it works. This can be done through the use of several methods such as statistics, empirical evidence and the application of logic.