What Is Law?


Generally speaking, law refers to a set of rules that are enforceable by governmental institutions. It shapes economics, politics and society.

Law can be divided into three categories: civil law, common law, and religious law. While each of these systems has its own unique features, all share some common features, such as judicial decision and precedent.

Religious law is based on religious precepts. There are several types of religious law, including Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia. These laws explicitly state that God’s word is unchangeable.

Civil law is the civilian legal system of continental Europe. It involves less detail than religious law and requires less judicial decisions. It includes legislative statutes and judicial decisions.

Common law legal systems also explicitly acknowledge the decisions of the executive branch. For example, the federal government’s Executive Order 11246 required health care employers to develop diversity goals. This included a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for health care workers in hospitals participating in Medicare and Medicaid.

Common law legal systems also incorporate the doctrine of precedent, which says that a court’s decision is binding on future courts. The doctrine of analogy is also present in common law legal systems.

Both civil law and religious law have argumentative theories. These theories involve interpreting the law through reasoning by analogy or through systemic interpretation.

While there is no unified definition of law, the concept of “natural law” re-emerged in mainstream culture through the writings of Thomas Aquinas. It was initially based on the notion of justice.