Law is a body of rules that controls the behaviour of people. These rules can be enacted by a sovereign or other controlling authority and are enforced through the courts. They can be written or unwritten, and may cover a wide range of subjects including criminal law, corporate law, constitutional law, family law, medical jurisprudence, property law, and tax law. They can also govern social and ethical issues such as censorship, human rights, and war.
The nature of law is not fully understood, although there are some general theories. One view is that it is a collection of rules that reflects the nature of the universe. This is the “epistemological” view of law, and it provides an ontological justification for it. Another view is that law comprises precepts that are of an exhortative or prescriptive nature. It is a normative discipline and, therefore, a part of the social sciences, but it lacks the descriptive or causal properties that are typical of empirical science (such as the law of gravity) or of sociology (the law of demand and supply).
Law covers all aspects of human activity and relates to many fields and activities, both domestic and international. Some examples of this are space law, which addresses the relationship between countries via treaties and other means; regulatory law, which sets minimum standards in areas such as banking and financial regulation, ensuring that banks do not exceed their assets; and tax law, which sets rates and rules about capital gains, profit taxes, and other aspects of national or state revenue.
In the United States, laws are either passed by Congress and signed into law by the president or allowed to pass over the president’s veto. Individual laws are referred to as acts and are compiled into volumes such as the United States Code or the Code of Federal Regulations.
In other parts of the world, different types of law exist. For example, some nations have civil law systems while others have traditional sharia law. In addition, there are indigenous cultures that rely on a concept of law that does not divide reality into natural and human/social. The Inuit, for example, have a concept of law that is holistic and non-hierarchical. It is possible that a perspective on law that is not so dichotomous might provide insights into the underlying structure of society and the universe itself.