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What is law


The question ‘What is law?’ has troubled people for many years. Scientists devote an entire field of study known as jurisprudence to answering this question. Many definitions of law exist, but for our purposes, we can define law as the set of rules and regulations by which a government regulates the conduct of people within a society. Even with this explanation, many questions arise. Where do laws come from? Do we need laws? Are all laws written? Can laws change? If so, how? What is the difference between laws and morals?

To understand the law, we must consider the relationship of law to morals. Traditional ideas of right and wrong influence our legal system. Thus, most people condemn murder, regardless of what the law says. However, everything that they consider immoral is not necessarily illegal. For example, lying to a friend may be immoral but not really illegal.

One thing is certain: every society that has ever existed has recognized the need for law. These laws may have been written, but even primitive people had rules to regulate the conduct of the group. For a very long time now, members of every community have made laws for themselves in self-protection. Without laws, there would be confusion, fear, and disorder. This does not mean that all laws are fair or even good, but imagine how people might take advantage of one another without some set of rules. We are far better off with the imperfect laws which we have, than if we had none at all.

Law serves a variety of functions. It helps to maintain a peaceful, orderly, relatively stable society, to contribute to social stability by resolving disputes in civilized fashion, to facilitate business activities and private planning, to provide some degree of freedom that would not otherwise be possible, to inhibit social discrimination and improve the quality of individual life in matters of health, education and welfare. The law is an enabler, something that permits us to enjoy rights within the framework of an ordered society. In many ways law is the cornerstone of our culture. The rule of law provides society with the rules by which all of us live. Citizens can know the law and live their lives accordingly.

Laws fall into two major groups: criminal and civil. Criminal laws regulate public conduct and set our duties owed to society. A criminal case is a legal action by the government against a person charged with committing a crime. Criminal laws have penalties requiring that offenders should be imprisoned, fined, placed under supervision, or punished in some other way.

Civil laws regulate relations between individuals or group of individuals. A person can bring a civil action (lawsuit) when this person feels wronged or injured by another person. Civil laws regulate many everyday situations such as marriage, divorce, contracts, real estate, insurance, consumer protection and negligence.

Date: 2015-01-29; view: 2890

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