Law is the system of rules a society recognizes as regulating the actions of its members. It may consist of legislation (i.e. written statutes) or of custom and policies that have been recognized and enforced by judicial decision. The study of law is called jurisprudence.
The precise definition of law is a matter of ongoing debate, with different theories differing over whether it incorporates morality or merely defines a system of social control. The utilitarian theory of law formulated by John Austin states that “law is the aggregate set of commands, backed by threat of sanction, issued by a sovereign to men, as his political subjects”
Some philosophers, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, have argued that the laws of nature reflect a natural order that is immutable. This is sometimes referred to as the natural school of thought.
Other philosophers have argued that the concept of law is not a universal one but varies over time and culture. In this view, the law must be adapted to local needs and circumstances.
In the modern world, most countries have a legal system. The core of the system is a judiciary that resolves disputes and decides whether people charged with crimes are guilty or innocent. The judicial system also determines the rights and duties people have toward their tangible property, such as land or buildings, and intangible assets like bank accounts and shares of stock. The legal system also covers areas of law such as contract, family and international law.