Law is a set of rules that govern the behavior of individuals, groups, and communities. It includes public law (the laws of a nation) and private law (the laws of individuals).
A well-ordered society can be governed by legal systems that achieve a number of purposes, such as to keep the peace, maintain the status quo, protect individual rights, ensure equal treatment, promote social justice, and provide for orderly change. Some legal systems serve these goals better than others.
The legal system of a country is based on a set of principles, such as property rights, that protect the interests of the people. Those principles are written down, often in the form of a constitution. These laws are then interpreted by courts and are used to resolve disputes.
This encyclopedia provides concise definitions of terms and concepts, as well as in-depth, specialist entries covering every area of this broad discipline. It also includes a wealth of charts and chronologies wherever relevant.
Some of the most commonly recognized scientific laws, including Newton’s law of gravity and Mendel’s law of independent assortment, describe invariable relationships among phenomena under a specific set of conditions. Other laws, such as Boyle’s law, explain what will happen to the volume of an ideal gas under a certain set of conditions.
In the sciences, scientific laws can be changed or altered through research and development over time. Scientists also develop theories that may evolve into laws in the future, such as the law of conservation of energy.
According to the will (or choice) theory, rights provide right-holders with a measure of normative control over themselves or others, functioning to make them “small-scale sovereign[s]” over some domains. Moreover, claim-rights and immunities function to protect the free exercise of Hohfeldian privileges and powers, both of which are determined as a matter of choice by right-holders.
Whether or not a right is valid turns on how it was justified. This justification typically involves a legal norm grounding, and it can be a core right, a derivative right that derived from a core right, or both.
Another type of justification is that of a legal right justifying other legal rights (Raz 1994: 258-263). This is the most common justification, but it can also involve the judicial determination of an individual’s right to a particular benefit, or to the protection of property in a particular location, for example.
There is also a third justification, which involves the granting of a right by virtue of the person’s capacity or power to claim or demand it. This is a type of justification that is more controversial than other types and has been criticized by many lawyers.
The goal of laws is to create an orderly society where everyone has their fair share of the resources and rights that belong to them. In Canada, this means that the courts must protect everyone’s rights and ensure that they are not violated.