What Is Law?


Law is the set of rules that govern human behavior. These rules may be made by social or governmental institutions, or they may be established by judges through precedent.

State-enforced laws can be created by a group legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes; by the executive through decrees and regulations; or by the courts in common law jurisdictions, where judge-made precedent is accepted as binding. Federal laws, which are arranged by subject in the United States Code, are legislation that has passed both houses of Congress and been signed by the president.

Constitutional law enshrines the principles and limits of government. These include the idea that governments should be limited in their powers, as well as the principle that they are responsible for establishing and protecting fundamental rights of individuals.

Property law defines people’s rights and duties toward tangible property, such as land, and personal property, including movable items such as cars, computers, or jewelry. Intangible property, such as bank accounts or stock shares, is also covered by law.

Competition law is an evolving field that traces its roots to Roman decrees against price fixing and the English restraint of trade doctrine. It is used to regulate businesses who attempt to distort market prices at the expense of consumers.

Political philosophy plays an important role in defining the nature of law, as well as the nature of justice. The idea of natural law, that law reflects the essentially moral and unchangeable laws of nature, was first articulated in ancient Greece by political philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle.

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