What Is Law?

Categories : Gambling

Law is the system of rules that governs human behavior in a society and makes it possible for people to live together peacefully. It establishes standards that everyone must follow, and it sets out how disputes should be resolved. The law also ensures that core human, procedural and property rights are protected. In a nation, the law serves many purposes: it keeps the peace, maintains the status quo, protects minorities against majorities, and enables social change while protecting individuals’ freedoms and liberties.

Different people have different views about what the law should be. Utilitarian philosophers such as Jeremy Bentham have argued that the purpose of law is to create order, and that it should consist of commands, backed by the threat of sanctions, from a sovereign to whom people have a habit of obedience. Others, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Thomas Aquinas, have argued that the law is a reflection of natural morality.

The way in which a nation defines its law is important. Some countries, including the United States, have a common law system that relies on judicial decisions. The decisions are compiled into case law and are subject to the “doctrine of stare decisis”, which means that decisions by higher courts bind lower courts to assure consistency. Other countries, such as Japan, have a civil law system that uses codes to guide judges in their decisions. The different systems have differing strengths and weaknesses. For example, the common law approach allows litigants to predict how a judge will decide a case, which is helpful in commercial transactions.