What Is Law?
Law is a set of rules that governs behaviour and can be made by a government, or by a group of individuals, such as a business. These laws are generally enforceable, which means that people who break them can face punishment, such as jail or fines.
The term law is often used to refer to all of a nation’s laws, or the set of rules that a country has in place to regulate their citizens. However, this definition is far from complete and there are many different kinds of laws that cover a wide range of topics.
The study of law is a multidisciplinary field that encompasses several areas of research, including social sciences and legal studies. It deals with issues that impact politics, economics, history and society in various ways.
Topics include the law of contracts, tort law, property law and criminal law. Some of the subjects may be quite common, such as employment law, while others are more specialized, such as evidence law or international human rights law.
In general, laws are based on principles of natural justice and human rights, such as the equality of all members of society before the law. They should also be based on reason, fairness and equity, and should avoid the excessive use of violence and coercion.
The theory of law and ethics
The theory of law and ethics, sometimes called the “law of morality” or the “ethics of law,” considers how law should be formulated, enforced and applied in order to achieve certain goals. This includes, among other things, the right to life, liberty and security.
Some of these goals are enumerated in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Other goals are less explicit and more personal.
A key question is how rights are to be defined and what they actually do (i.e., what they are for and who they entitle).
One of the most prominent theories of the function of rights is the Hohfeldian theory of law, which holds that claim-rights are normatively determinative of what parties must do or may do in certain circumstances, while privilege-rights are normatively determining what they must not do or must not be allowed to do. Other theories of the function of rights are more specific, such as a “demand theory” or a “normative justification” theory.
Using a demand theory of rights, Joel Feinberg and Stephen Darwall argue that rights have two main functions: first, to justify correlative duties; and second, to exclude reasons for excluding those duties from being imposed. This is a rather radical theory, but it may well be the most plausible of the three theories that have been advanced in recent years.
Another important aspect of a demand theory is the capacity or power of right-holders to claim or demand. It is this capacity that makes the demands of rights a legitimate justification for obligations in some situations.