Law is a system of rules created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. These rules can be passed through a legislative process, resulting in statutes, decreed by the executive, resulting in regulations and orders, or established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions. Laws may also be made by individuals, such as private contracts or agreements between parties. The study of law is broad and varied, covering subjects as diverse as labour law (which studies a tripartite industrial relationship between employer, worker and trade union), civil law, criminal law and the law of evidence – which governs which materials are admissible in court for cases to be built upon.
While the precise definition of law has been a subject of longstanding debate, a number of common elements can be identified. The primary characteristic of law is that it is binding. This is a consequence of the social nature of society and the need for human beings to agree on certain principles, so that everyone can be treated fairly and with respect. Laws are enforceable through the mechanisms of government, including a separation of powers and regular elections to ensure that no one person or group has more power than another.
Another important characteristic of law is that it can be based on a rational choice theory. This relates to the idea that a person’s choices are rational, in the sense that they take into account all the relevant information about a situation. A decision is considered to be rational if the expected outcome of that decision is greater than the risk of the event occurring, taking into account both the chance of success and the consequences for others.
The judicial concept of law, on the other hand, tends to be less objective and more subjective. Judges’ decisions are influenced by the ideas of their peers, as well as their own personal beliefs and values. This can lead to a wide variation in the outcomes of the same case, especially when different judges are involved.
For example, there are a number of cultural groups that have a non-modern scientific perspective on what constitutes the law. This includes aboriginal cultures, which have a concept of law that does not divide reality into “natural/natural” and human/human.
There are also a number of philosophical approaches to the question of what constitutes law. The most common is a utilitarian view, which sees law as an instrument for achieving the greatest good for the most people. This view, however, has been criticized for ignoring the complexities of individual values and circumstances when making decisions. It is also criticized for not addressing the ethical and moral issues of law. In addition, utilitarians often neglect to consider the impact of laws on the environment and human rights. A more ethical approach to the law may be found in natural law, which sees the law as a reflection of natural moral order.