Theories of Law

Law is a complex subject and people have many different ideas about what it should mean. However, the basic idea of law is a set of rules created by a government that form a framework to ensure a peaceful society and can be enforced through punishments or sanctions if those rules are broken. Law can also refer to the rules of a sport, a group or a family that must be followed.

The concept of law is central to the political structures, economics and history of the world’s societies and nations. For example, a constitution, written or tacit, can dictate a nation’s laws, its rights and privileges for its citizens. The laws of a nation may be enforced by its military, police force or judicial system.

Depending on the country, the law may cover topics as diverse as property, human rights, taxation, war and peace, health, safety and the environment. In most nations, the legal system is based on a hierarchy with the highest court deciding the outcome of a case. However, the law is also influenced by cultural factors such as religion, tradition and custom.

One theory of law involves the societal viewpoint on issues such as rationality, morality and order. This view was largely formulated by philosophers such as Jeremy Bentham, who defined law as “commands, backed by threats of sanction, from a sovereign to whom people have a habit of obedience.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s theory of natural law is a similar perspective that focuses on the innate principles of nature that are unchanging and indestructible.

Other theories of law focus on the judicial viewpoint on those same issues. Judicial law is a field of study that covers court rules, statutes, guidelines and policies. It also includes the study of cases that have been decided by higher courts to determine whether or not those decisions should bind lower courts in similar cases.

Other fields of law include criminal law, civil law, labor law and aviation law. For example, criminal law covers the rights of a citizen’s when arrested or interrogated by police officers. Civil law involves all laws governing contracts, agreements, and lawsuits while aviation law encompasses the regulations and standards for airplanes and their pilots. Generally, the laws of these areas are more technical and may take a position on controversial changes to legislation. For example, aviation law may address new requirements for pilot training and safety precautions, or it could criticize the lack of a national law requiring airline passengers to be screened for infectious diseases before boarding. The laws in these fields also tend to be more detailed and complex than other law. As such, they are often more difficult for the average person to understand. This can lead to some miscommunication between lawyers and their clients. However, the legal profession is constantly changing and improving in order to keep pace with evolving laws. This enables the law to better serve its main functions, which are to establish standards, maintain order, resolve disputes and protect liberties and rights.