Sociology Index


What is Law? The definition of law is that law is the body of rules, whether formally enacted or customary, which a particular State or community recognizes as governing the actions of its subjects or members and which it may enforce by imposing penalties. Law is a body of rules or norms passed by a legislated authority and enforced by an authorized and specialized body. Law is a body of rules that are both created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior.

Law clearly identifies the defining characteristic of the state, the ability to establish and legitimately use coercion to enforce a framework of social regulation and direction. The state, by passing law and having the authority to force compliance, can coerce citizens to act in particular ways.

Defining the term law is impossible because the term changes from time to time and different scholars define the term law variously. Definition of the term law also varies due to the different types of purposes sought to be achieved by such definition. Definitions of law are as many as legal theories.

Law's scope can be divided into two domains. Public law concerns government and society, including constitutional law, administrative law, and criminal law. Private law deals with legal disputes between individuals and/or organisations in areas such as contracts, property, torts/delicts and commercial law. - Horwitz, Morton J. (1 June 1982).

While all large-scale, modern societies have law it was not found among hunter-gatherer society, pastoral or horticultural societies. In these societies social life was regulated primarily by custom and tradition. Laws can be regarded collectively as a social system of rules or injunctions that must be obeyed.

Law can be defined as a binding practice or rule prescribed by a supreme controlling authority. Max Weber suggests that an order will be called law if it is externally guaranteed by the probability that coercion will bring about conformity or avenge violation.

McCoubrey and White said that the question "what is law?" has no simple answer. - Mc Coubrey, Hilaire and White, Nigel D. Textbook on Jurisprudence. Glanville Williams said that the meaning of the word "law" depends on the context in which that word is used. He said that, for example, "early customary law" and "municipal law" were contexts where the word "law" had two different and irreconcilable meanings. - Williams, Glanville. International Law and the Controversy Concerning the Meaning of the Word Law.

Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through. - Jonathan Swift, in A Critical Essay upon the Faculties of the Mind.

The precepts of the law may be comprehended under these three points: to live honestly, to hurt no man willfully, and to render every man his due carefully. - Aristotle.

Law is an imperfect profession in which success can rarely be achieved without some sacrifice of principle. Thus all practicing lawyers will necessarily be imperfect, especially in the eyes of young idealists. There is no perfect justice, just as there is no absolute in ethics. But there is perfect injustice, and we know it when we see it. - Alan Dershowitz, in Letters to a Young Lawyer.