The Concept of Law
Law is the set of rules that regulates human behavior. It is a complex, multifaceted, and contested concept. It is often described as a science or an art, but its precise definition is a matter of ongoing debate.
Law may be created by a group legislature, by the executive through decrees or regulations, or by courts established by precedent, usually in common law jurisdictions. It can also be created through private agreements or legal contracts, or by customary practice.
Theoretical perspectives on the nature of law vary, but they generally share an emphasis on rights. Ideally, these are moral rights, not dependent on social convention or recognition; rooted in the natural law tradition, and devoid of considerations of utility or policy (e.g., Nozick 1974; Dworkin 1977).
Rights are preemptory reasons to ph, or to refrain from ph. They are not inherently favored over other reasons to ph, but they can outweigh those others by “punching above their normative weight” (Dworkin 1977: 190-192; Nozick 1974: 171-173).
Moreover, a right’s stringency, or degree of priority, is an important dimension of its legal impact. It is typically assessed by normative jurisprudence, political and constitutional theory, and judicial practice (see below).
The concept of law can be broadly defined as the body of laws that govern the conduct of individuals and groups within a society or country. It includes the legal rules of conduct in various areas, such as criminal law, property law, taxation, civil rights, and international law.