An Introduction to Law

Law is a system of rules that forms a framework to ensure a peaceful society. It is enforced by the state and if violated, sanctions can be applied. Law consists of civil, criminal, and administrative laws. The latter include such fields as taxation, banking, and bankruptcy law.

The precise shape of law varies from nation to nation and is dependent upon the political structure that governs a country. For example, many countries use a civil law system, in which statutes create the legal landscape, while others use a common law system in which judge-made precedent is binding. The concept of law is influenced by such factors as the nature of the human mind (see cognitive psychology), as well as by philosophical concepts such as utilitarianism, the idea that laws should be designed to maximize the social good (see utilitarian theory), and natural law theories.

Law is complex from a methodological perspective, since it includes normative statements of a prescriptive character, that prescribe what people ought to do or not do, and that impose upon them obligations. In contrast, normative statements in other areas of knowledge have descriptive or causal character (such as a law of gravity or a law of supply and demand). This makes a study of law unique from an ontological standpoint.