Law is a system of rules created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to ensure that members of a society adhere to certain standards, maintain order and resolve disputes. It also serves to protect the liberties and rights of citizens. Laws can be enacted by a legislative body, resulting in statutes, by the executive, through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent (common law jurisdictions). The governing principles of law are often drawn from religion. Religions such as Judaism (halakha), Islam (Shari’a) and Christianity (canon law) often include explicit or implicit guiding principles for society, including ethical imperatives, as well as social and moral precepts.
The nature of laws is a subject of scholarly inquiry. In particular, philosophers and other academics have analyzed the nature of legal concepts such as authority, justice and reason. They have studied the historical development of laws, and philosophized about law’s role in society. They have also debated the nature of human knowledge, and the limits to what can be empirically verified.
In practice, the law may be interpreted in many ways by various individuals and groups. It is also important to consider how law is administered and enforced. In the United States, for example, the Constitution sets out a framework for government known as separation of powers that ensures that no individual or group is able to dominate the legal process. This ensures that a judge’s rulings are not simply the result of his or her biases and prejudices.
In other countries, the law is administered and enforced differently. For instance, in parliamentary systems, it is not as easy to separate the legislative and executive branches of the government. In a constitutional republic, however, checks and balances such as “no confidence” votes and regular elections serve to limit the power of any single party.