What Is Law?


Law is the body of customs, practices, and rules that a community recognises as binding. It is enforced by a controlling authority, usually through the courts.

The word “law” is used in the Old Testament to refer to a set of commands and regulations given by God. It is also used in the New Testament to describe the Mosaic covenant.

Normatively, rights are often thought of as reflecting natural rights: moral rights that are not dependent on enforcement or social convention, or recognition; an ideal view rooted in the natural law tradition (Feinberg 1973; Dworkin 1977).

Legal rights are generally peremptory–that is, excluding many but not all possible conflicting reasons for a particular action (Lyons 1994: 152; Griffin 2008: 76). The scope and stringency of a right’s peremptoriness is a matter of normative jurisprudence, political theory, and judicial practice, based on such considerations as the rights’ moral justification, background social and political values and commitments, expediency, and institutional considerations.

Weight is also a factor in assessing the stringency of a right, a function of how demanding the duties grounded in the right are and what states of affairs the right must be satisfied to give effect to its correlative duty (Kamm 2002: 476).

In the broad sense, all legal rights are vested powers: a right has a vested power over an object if and only if X holds a vested right over Y with respect to some ph, under certain conditions. Those conditions are typically correlative to the right-object’s obligation to X, which is owed to X.

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