The Study of Law


Law is a body of rules sanctioned by a society or a government, and enforced through a central authority: for example, courts. A society’s laws are usually based on principles such as human equality, justice and fairness or the will of a deity. There are many aspects to law: a person’s rights, duties and privileges are regulated by the law; the law defines and defines relationships between people; it establishes a system of punishment for breaking a rule; the law shapes politics, economics, history and social relations. The study of the law provides a source of scholarly inquiry into such topics as legal history, philosophy and sociology.

A wide range of legal issues are addressed by law, from the right to privacy to the right to freedom of expression. A major focus of law is the way in which it impacts people, and how it affects their relationship to their environment, each other and their governments.

The legal field is vast and diverse, ranging from international law to the law of torts, with specializations such as family, environmental, banking and tax law. Each field has a different approach to the interpretation and application of law, and differs in its understanding of human nature and its place in society.

While there are no universally accepted definitions of “law,” the term can generally be regarded as consisting of a set of precepts that a community, or at least a group of its members, agrees should be followed. This collection of laws is known as a ‘legal system’ and may be based on one of several philosophical models, such as the scientific model (often contrasted with natural law), the utilitarian model or the communitarian model.

The law is the product of a complex interaction between many factors, including social norms, historical precedent and societal values. Its precise content remains a subject of longstanding debate. It is impossible to empirically verify whether a law is just or unfair, although there are measures of legal reliability such as the principle of stare decisis, wherein decisions by higher courts bind lower ones. There are also a variety of methods for interpreting the law, such as case law and constitutional interpretation. In addition, the law is shaped by morality and the concept of a just society. This societal dimension of the law raises questions about how to balance individual freedom with the need for protection and safety in societies. It also raises issues concerning the extent to which the governing body should be accountable to its citizens, a topic explored in depth by Max Weber and others. This article is a list of selected articles dealing with these issues.