What is Law?

Law is a set of rules created by the state which form a framework to ensure a peaceful society. The laws are enforced by mechanisms provided by the state and sanctions can be imposed when they are broken. Law is a very complex subject, and many books and debates have been written about it. There are some common themes that come out of the debates, however.

The first is that the legal system is based on a rational choice theory of human action. This means that every person’s decision is a prediction of the outcome of her interaction with the external reality shaped by the narratives held by other people. Each person’s narrative is a story about the intersection of her internal reality, or “law,” and an external reality that is shaped by her environment, or “nature.”

Thus, when she makes a decision about what to do in a given situation, she is predicting how her actions will intersect with the law, or natural world. She may be influenced by other people’s stories about the same situation, but the individual law she creates for herself will differ from the one that is imposed on her by others.

Another common theme is that the legal system attempts to incorporate objectivity. This is often reflected in the use of statistics in the courtroom and the practice of “evidence-based” law. However, there are still problems with this approach. For example, there is a very wide gap between the judicial community’s ideals of objectivity and the reality that exists in actual trials. For instance, the judicial community routinely predicts that homeless defendants will receive the same results as wealthy defendants from the same trial. However, this is rarely true in actual cases.

In other words, the judicial system is an imperfect process, but one that serves its fundamental function of settling disputes. The governing principles of Law include the supremacy of the law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, and avoidance of arbitrariness.

A variety of other concepts are also used in the context of Law. These include:

discovery – The examination, before trial, of facts and documents in possession of the opponents to help lawyers prepare for trial.

appeal – The request to another court to review the judgment of a lower court or tribunal for improper procedure or for other reasons.

restraining order – A legal order prohibiting a party from taking an action that is likely to cause irreparable harm. It differs from a writ of injunction in that it can be temporary and is not required to be published.

trial – A formal proceeding to determine the rights and claims of the parties in a lawsuit, with the judge making the official decision.

a judge – A government official with authority to decide lawsuits. Judges are usually called justices in the United States Supreme Court and the highest courts of each state.