What Is Law?

Law shapes politics, economics and history in a multitude of ways. It also poses complex issues regarding equality and justice. The law is an important subject for scholarly inquiry in a variety of fields including legal history, philosophy and sociology.

It is difficult to give a precise definition of the law, as different societies have differing views about what is enforceable and what constitutes a rule. Nevertheless, there are some common themes. The most fundamental is that law is a set of rules created and enforced by social or governmental institutions that regulate behavior and ensure adherence to the will of the state, with sanctions imposed if these rules are broken or breached.

The laws a society adopts can be either state-enforced or privately-enforced, and may be codified by a legislature through statutes or regulations, or interpreted by judges through binding precedent (typically in common law jurisdictions). Private individuals can create legally binding contracts such as employment agreements or property contracts. The law can cover a broad range of topics, from the criminal law that governs conduct that harms the social order to civil law that resolves lawsuits.

A legal concept that is a foundation for many other laws is the law of gravity, which states that an object will fall to the ground unless it is prevented from doing so by another force. This is a logical consequence of Newton’s third law of motion, which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.