What Is Law?


Law is the set of rules which govern behavior and are enforced by governmental or social institutions. However, the exact definition of law is a matter of long-standing debate. Legal scholars have referred to it as a science, an art, or a combination of both. To some, law is a matter of justice or morality.

Legal institutions

In Legal Institutions, the author presents a comprehensive theory of legal institutions. He shows that the legal system functions by enforcing the rule of law, and provides an explanation for its effectiveness. He also discusses the relationship between law and social institutions. He concludes that legal institutions are necessary to the functioning of society.

The state and the law are inextricably linked. While the state generally has adjudicative and legislative capacity, law also has a role in providing public authority. Yet, the relationship between state and law is under increasing challenge in the age of globalization and cyberspace. With the expansion of globalization, legal transactions can happen outside national borders, and in stateless cyberspace. Legal institutions that function along geopolitical lines are no longer sufficient to regulate human behavior.

Formal aspects

The study of the formal aspects of law is a relatively new discipline in legal theory. It deals with the characteristics of law in a given society and its effects on people. Legal philosophers and theorists have taken special interest in this area of law. Other recently developed disciplines within the field include legisprudence and informatics.

Essentially, formal aspects of law govern how legal proceedings are conducted and ensure that justice is done fairly. They also help clarify the practical consequences of legislation. These principles are called substantive values, and they are the principles by which the law is applied. Oftentimes, these principles are social values, such as equality. When considering cases in court, judges review case law and statutory laws to determine whether the laws are consistent with these principles.

Procedural aspects

The term “rule of law” may not accurately describe a society’s state of affairs, but it can be used to describe a general ideal. In some cases, it can even serve to promote sectoral privileges for judicial personnel and unchallenged interpretations of the law. However, the term’s emphasis on procedural aspects may detract from the importance of the content of law.

Substantive values

In a court of law, judges use substantive values in their decisions to guide their decisions. These values guide the way that law is applied and help the justice system to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to practice their rights. The values that govern substantive law are the social values that society places on law. A good jurist doesn’t ignore these values when deciding a case, and uses procedural rules, as well as precedents and statutes, to apply these values. This is one of the primary goals of a judge.

The value of law is in its ability to order relationships between individuals in large communities. Although it is not possible to reduce value to goodness, a good law has more value than a bad one. A good law enables predictable interactions between individuals and limits the abuse of power.