What Is Law?

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Law is the discipline and profession concerned with the customs, practices, and rules of conduct of a community.

In the United States, the term “law” refers to the body of public and private legal doctrine and regulations that are used by governments in order to enforce laws and regulate social behavior. It includes civil and criminal law, and administrative law.

The term “law” is also used to refer to a person’s moral rights, such as those that protect against discrimination and abuse. These rights can be divided into two categories: the first are those that designate a specific and definite right-object (rights in personam), such as contracts, trusts, and parts of torts; and the second are those that protect against the actions of other people or entities, such as property rights, which involve protecting against liens or other claims against another’s property.

Generally speaking, in the United States, the law divides public and private powers into those that are vested in the state and those that are vested in private individuals and corporations. The public power of the state is called the governmental power and is often referred to as the judicial power.

The legal rights of individual persons are sometimes seen as bastions of their interests, agency, dignity, autonomy, control, and liberty; even in the face of utilitarian ideals or, more generally, the common good (Lyons 1982; 1994: 147-176). At other times, however, these rights can be overridden by the common good, which is seen as an expression of the public good that transcends individual concerns and goals.