The Law is a complex concept which shapes politics, economics, history and society in many ways. It provides the basis for a wide range of scholarly inquiry into legal history, philosophy, economic analysis and sociology. In its broadest sense it covers all that is enforceable by the authority of a central government or an organized jural society, including rules for determining rights and duties. The precise definition of the law is a matter of debate and varies according to the perspective from which it is approached. For example, some theorists emphasize its moral foundation and consider it to be a system for ensuring social justice. Others stress its role in imposing order and control, or in warning of punishment for disobedience.
Some of the main branches of the law are contract law (regulating agreements between individuals and organizations), criminal law (defining and punishing behaviour considered harmful to society), civil law (resolving lawsuits) and family law, among others. In the latter case, the law defines people’s rights and responsibilities toward one another, including the right to marriage and the responsibility to care for children.
Law is also a tool for achieving societal goals and can be used to promote peace, economic development and social progress. The aims of the law are to establish standards, maintain order, resolve disputes and protect liberties and rights. It is also a source of power which can be wielded for political ends, but this raises difficult questions about how it should be designed and enforced, as reflected in the work of philosophers like Max Weber who reshaped thinking on the limits to the state’s sphere of influence.