Law is the body of rules and principles that govern people’s lives. It serves a variety of purposes, including keeping the peace, maintaining the status quo, protecting individual rights, promoting social justice and providing for orderly social change.
Laws can also give people power to act in their own interests, such as owning property and appointing others to do their legal work for them (e.g., creating a will or contract). It can also protect against the abuse of power by politicians or the police, and prevent corruption and other problems that threaten society.
In the modern world, we tend to think of law as a system of rules that are arranged in codes and easily accessible to citizens and jurists. It is generally organized to favor cooperation, order and predictability, and to avoid excessive detail.
It is a primarily legislative system, but it also allows room for the judiciary to interpret and create new jurisprudence. In the common law world, the decisions of courts are acknowledged as “law” on equal footing with laws enacted through legislative means or regulations issued by the executive branch.
Despite this, it is sometimes difficult to separate the real reasons for legal decisions from legal reasoning. It is not uncommon for individuals’ rights to seem incompatible at high levels of abstraction, and to be found in conflict in actual legal practice. This is because in theory, and in practice, the underlying reasons for the existence of certain rights are often less concrete than those that lead to specific prescriptions of what actions to take in specific cases.