Law is a set of rules created by the state that form a framework to ensure a peaceful society. It ensures that all people are treated fairly, regardless of social class or background, and that core human, property and civil rights are protected. It also makes it possible to punish those who break the rules, by imposing sanctions. Without laws, a world of chaos and anarchy would ensue.
While there is no such thing as an absolute law, most countries have a constitution (written or tacit) that sets out some fundamental principles, such as the protection of private property and the rule of law. These basic principles help to shape politics, economics, history and society in a range of ways.
The study of law is therefore a fascinating and varied subject. It covers many aspects of the social order, including major societal problems and the legal responses to them; the practical considerations that go into designing various social policies; and the social institutions, communities and partnerships that make up law’s political basis.
In addition, the study of law teaches students about the nature and importance of human rights. It provides an opportunity to explore fundamental issues that are important for our own well-being and the survival of the human race, such as the need for enforceable standards of behaviour and for an impartial system of justice. It also offers a useful way to understand a complex and sometimes confusing part of our daily lives, and the challenges we face in trying to live in a civilised society.
While there are a number of different theories about the meaning and function of law, most agree that it is a vital component of any modern state. The purpose of law is to promote and protect the general welfare and it is essential that any state tries to achieve this. The power of law also allows states to maintain the peace, enforce the status quo, protect minority rights against majorities, and facilitate orderly social change. Some systems of law are more effective at meeting these goals than others.
Law reflects and shapes society in many ways, from the rules that govern air traffic to those that regulate the financial sector. It also helps insure against the risk of economic crisis by setting minimum standards for bank capital and ensuring that the public have access to essential services, such as water and energy, when they are in need.
There is also a lively debate about the role of law and the people who create and administer it. Some believe that judges should be free of politics and act as technical technicians, while others argue that they must be aware of their own values and sensitivity, and be sensitive to the social context in which they work.