Throughout the millennia, the ideal of Rule of Law has been important in political thought. It mitigates the asymmetry of political power, takes the edge off peremptory power, and makes it more predictable and less arbitrary. Law has shaped and influenced politics, economics, and history. It is also important to ordinary people. Law is a system of rules that governs a society, and is enforceable by governmental institutions. Law also forms the political basis of a society. Law is also an important part of people’s access to justice. Law is a profession, and modern lawyers need a Bachelor of Laws or a Juris Doctor to practice. Law can be applied to almost any area of life.
Traditionally, the Rule of Law is conceived as a system of norms that are promulgated in advance, and that are made public. Law can be made by the executive or the legislative branch of a government. Law can also be created by private individuals, through arbitration agreements or legally binding contracts. Law is also an important part of the economic system, as it regulates industries such as energy, gas, and telecomms. Law also plays a role in the provision of public services, such as water. Law also regulates income tax, corporate tax, and value added tax.
Modern legal pragmatists place less faith in the application of established rules, but instead place more faith in analogies to ancient precedents and judges’ insight. In some jurisdictions, law is also considered to be an art. This is because it involves the use of complex communication techniques, and requires human elaboration. Law is also a system of norms that can be internalized by individuals, and can be a frame for other social and political issues.
Although there are differences between Rule of Law principles and their applications, all agree on certain substantive values. These include mutuality of constraint, reciprocity, the public nature of laws, and the transparency of legal procedures. Law also provides a framework for people to understand and use, but it is not the source of morality.
The Rule of Law requires laws to be promulgated well in advance of the individual’s responsibility. In the United States, for example, laws are usually made by the legislature. Laws can also be created by a group of legislators, as in Canada, or by the executive through decrees.
One of the most important features of law is the generality of the rules that govern the community. The general rules should operate impartially, and the law should be epistemically accessible. This is not to say that the law can’t have an invidious discriminatory effect. However, generality is a formal requirement of law, not a guarantee of justice.
A number of articles on law describe the relationship between law and politics. They also discuss the importance of law for social issues, such as crime and punishment, censorship, and social restrictions. They also describe legal education and training, as well as the relationship of law to social sciences.