Law is the set of rules that govern a society. It includes the rights and obligations of citizens, as well as the duties of public officials. It also explains how crimes are punished and how businesses are regulated. The study of law is called legal studies. Law can also refer to the profession of lawyers and judges.
Law is a working political idea, as much the property of ordinary citizens, activists and politicians as it is of the jurists and philosophers who study it. As such, it has a rich historical heritage. It is not surprising, therefore, that different people privilege different features of a legal system when they argue about the Rule of Law.
The Rule of Law requires that citizens should respect and comply with laws, even when they disagree with them. It requires that they accept legal determinations of what their rights and duties are, and that the state may act only with express legal authorization. The Rule of Law also requires that citizens should be able to access the legal protections provided by the law, and should not be discriminated against on the basis of their social status or economic power.
Some of the most important laws are those that protect individuals from oppressive or abusive governments. Such laws are known as civil and human rights. They include the right to freedom of speech and association, the right to privacy, and the prohibition on torture. The law is also concerned with the rights of minorities and women, and with promoting social justice. The Rule of Law is not a panacea, and some countries have much worse records in this area than others.
Another aspect of the Rule of Law is that it is a necessary condition for democracy, and that citizens should have a real say in who makes the laws. Some of the most important laws in this regard are those governing electoral procedures, and the independence of the judiciary. The Rule of Law also implies that the state should be limited in size, and that it should not arrogate to itself powers that are reserved for citizens.
Many modern writers have argued about the nature of law and what it should be. For example, Fuller formulated principles that he called the “morality of law”-principles requiring that laws be general and public, prospective, coherent, clear, stable, and practicable. However, Hart argued that these were mere instrumental principles for law-making and could not be described as moral principles.