What is Law?

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Law is a set of rules created by a society and enforced by its institutions, usually police or courts. Those rules govern the activities of people and determine what is allowed and not allowed, with consequences (such as fines) if the rules are broken. Those who study law are called lawyers, jurists or attorneys. Lawyers can specialize in specific fields such as corporate or criminal law.

The earliest laws were written down, often in books such as the Vedas or Bible and were a source of many common beliefs about right and wrong. In modern societies, the law is largely made by elected officials, such as members of parliaments or congresses, who create the framework of the laws and make more detailed laws as needed. The laws are created by a process known as enactment.

The laws that govern us are not logical and are based on experience and many different factors. Some of the most important laws are cultural, based on family and social habits. Other laws are based on ideas about what is fair or not fair — concepts of justice and the will of God: moral laws. Still others are based on science: physical laws, such as Boyle’s Law, describe invariable relationships among phenomena under certain conditions.