Law is the set of rules, principles and guidelines enforced by a governing body to govern conduct and maintain order. Laws are complex and vary from place to place as society’s needs and behaviour change. They can be based on customs, traditions or written down by an authority. They can be civil or criminal in nature and may include penalties such as fines or jail terms.
From a methodological point of view, Law is peculiar as it lacks the characteristics that distinguish other sciences and disciplines from one another. Normative statements in Law are not of a descriptive or causal character, but rather an expression of the governing authority’s will, which cannot be checked in the same way that normative statements in empirical science (such as the law of gravity) and even social science (the “law of supply and demand” in economics).
While there is no single definition of Law, it is generally agreed upon that the purpose of the Law is to ensure social justice. This is achieved by establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights. Some nations have more effective legal systems at achieving these goals than others.
For example, a nation with an authoritarian government that keeps the peace and maintains the status quo might serve its citizens well; however, it can also oppress minorities and restrict freedoms. A democratic regime, on the other hand, might not provide such benefits, but will allow for peaceful social change and protect its citizen’s rights.