Understanding the Concept of Law


Law refers to a set of rules established and enforced through social institutions to regulate human behaviours. It is a means of resolving conflicts and disputes peacefully by ensuring that everyone follows the same rules and is treated fairly. Laws can be based on religious teachings, natural justice principles, or a system of punishment and reward. Laws are not static and can change over time as societal needs and beliefs evolve.

Law is a complex concept that encompasses different legal rules and principles which vary in each country/society. The laws also vary in their application to specific situations and behaviours. For example, adultery is a crime in India but not in America. Laws are a way for society to ensure justice, which may be distributive or corrective, by providing fair distribution of resources or redressing wrongs.

There are four Hohfeldian positions, namely claims-rights, privilege-rights, powers-rights and immunities-rights. Rights which right-holders actively exercise are claim-rights; rights which they enjoy passively are privilege-rights; and rights that impose obligations upon other people are powers-rights and immunities-rights (Lyons 1970: 29-31).

In addition to keeping the peace and maintaining order, laws can serve several other goals including preserving individual rights, protecting minorities against majorities, promoting social change, or providing for peaceful transitions between regimes. Some legal systems are more effective at serving these purposes than others. For example, a dictatorial government might keep the peace and maintain order, but it is not likely to respect individual rights or provide for peaceful transitions between regimes.