What Is Law?
Law is a set of rules created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. Its precise definition is a matter of longstanding debate.
There are many different branches of Law, ranging from the law of contracts to the law of torts. Each of these areas has its own unique history and practice.
Legal theories and methods can be applied to a wide variety of subjects, including the social sciences, philosophy, religion, politics, and economics. Some common legal theories and methods include the theory of enforcing contract, the law of property, and the law of torts.
A law can be defined as a statement about invariable relationships among phenomena that apply universally but only approximately to the circumstances under which they are observed. In the science of physics, for example, Boyle’s law describes how the volume of an ideal gas changes when its pressure is changed and its temperature remains constant.
These laws are not a description of the forces that govern these phenomena. They are rather a generalized observation about the relationship between a set of things in the world, and are often framed as a mathematical statement or scientific hypothesis.
In contrast, in the sciences, there are a variety of laws that describe invariable relationships between phenomena, such as the law of gravity or the law of thermodynamics. The law of thermodynamics, for instance, states that the energy contained in a closed system remains constant, even if the temperature and pressure change.
The law of gravity, on the other hand, states that an object thrown up will fall. This is a law because the result of throwing up is consistent with the reality that a thrown object will fall.
Laws may be active or passive (see Lyons 1970; Sumner 1987). The latter type, referred to as “Hohfeldian,” refers to a variety of norms that are determinative of what parties may or cannot do.
Some Hohfeldian norms are first-order (e.g., claims, privileges, powers), while others are second-order (e.g., immunities).
One of the most hospitable fields to the Will Theory is private law, which includes contract, tort, and trust law. In these fields, right-holders often enjoy considerable control over the Hohfeldian positions that they stand in in relation to other parties, ranging from their ability to waive certain obligations owed to them to the power to transfer some rights or appoint someone else to take on those obligations in their stead.
Another important area of law is criminal law, which outlines the rules and procedures for how individuals can be charged with crimes. This includes both state-enforced laws, such as the law of murder and the law of manslaughter, and private law, which deals with a variety of crimes, from sexual assault to burglary.
There are a number of resources available online for research on law, including subscription databases such as Westlaw and LexisNexis, as well as legal periodicals indexing services like HeinOnline. These databases offer access to articles from most major law reviews, legal newspapers, bar association journals, and specialty law publications.