Law is a system of rules that a society or government develops in order to deal with things like crime and business agreements. It can also be used to refer to the people who work in this system, known as the legal profession.
The term “law” encompasses a wide range of topics, from criminal law to business laws to social relationships. The law can be based on human customs, religious commandments, or a written document. It can also be based on the natural world, or on scientific discoveries and theories.
One important function of law is to help a nation maintain peace, keep the status quo, preserve individual rights, protect minorities against majorities, promote social justice, and allow for orderly social change. Some legal systems accomplish this better than others. For example, an authoritarian regime may be able to keep the peace and maintain the status quo but it will usually oppress minorities and political opponents. In contrast, a democracy or constitutional monarchy will generally be more concerned about preserving individual rights and promoting social justice.
It is important to note that the term law includes both natural and positive law. The latter refers to a body of laws created by man, which can be either voluntary or mandatory. Natural law, on the other hand, refers to a set of principles that are universally recognized as binding and morally proper. This can be derived from the principles of right reason, views of nature and the constitution of man, and even divine revelation.
Some laws, such as the law of gravity, are facts that describe the behavior of two objects in a particular circumstance. Other laws, such as the law of supply and demand, are based on predictable consequences of certain actions. For a rule to be considered a law it must have a high level of consistency, objectivity, and predictability. It should also be based on a solid foundation of factual evidence that can be tested by other experts in the field.
A good rule of law is one that is clear in its meaning and easy to understand. It should also be flexible enough to adapt to new needs, primarily through the process of interpretation and creative jurisprudence. It is also desirable for a rule of law to be impartial as to persons, that is, it should not discriminate between people or situations.
In addition, a law should be consistent as to place and time, and universal as to its application. For example, it should not be possible for a judge to change his or her own decision in a later case on the basis of that ruling. This would violate the principle of fairness. A court should also be obligated to follow God’s teaching of not respecting the person in judgment. This is the logical extension of the biblical prohibition against respecting persons (Deuteronomy 16:18-19). In this way, judges are considered living oracles that must decide every case without bias.