Law is the rules that a society or government develops to deal with crime, business agreements, and social relationships. You can also use the word law to refer to people who work in this system, such as lawyers and judges.
The Law can serve a variety of purposes in a nation, such as keeping peace, maintaining the status quo, preserving individual rights, protecting minorities from majorities, promoting social justice, and providing for orderly social change. Some systems perform these functions better than others.
Among the types of laws are civil law, common law and international law. The legal tradition of civil law is based on concepts, categories and rules that are largely derived from Roman law and sometimes supplemented by local custom or culture.
The law can have a wide range of effects on individuals and communities, such as in the areas of torts, criminal law, immigration, family and social security, as well as international law. The law also shapes history, economics and politics.
Law reflects various perspectives on the nature of morality and human responsibility, ranging from utilitarian to natural law theories. Utilitarian theories, such as those of John Austin and Jeremy Bentham, view law as commands, backed by threat of punishment from an authority to whom people have a habit of obedience.
Natural law, on the other hand, views law as reflecting essentially moral and unchangeable natural laws. Such a view gained widespread acceptance in the Western world in the 18th and 19th centuries, as reflected in such writers as Jean-Jacques Rousseau.