Law is the set of rules and principles that a sovereign state uses to regulate the behavior of its citizens. It is distinct from social or natural science in that it deals with the “ought” rather than the “is”. Law is therefore a form of ethical and moral philosophy, though some scholars have also described it as empirical science.
The concept of law focuses on the political dimension of society and has a broad range of applications. For example, civil rights law concerns the individual rights that people have to a fair trial and hearing. Family law deals with the rights of spouses and children. Immigration law and nationality laws concern a person’s right to live and work in a nation-state and to acquire or lose citizenship. Employment law covers the rights of workers and employers to collectively bargain and negotiate, and the individual employee’s right to a minimum wage and job security.
The main purposes of law are establishing standards, maintaining order and ensuring justice. These goals are often entwined, e.g., the requirement that some semblance of order be maintained in a civil society makes certain behaviours illegal (for instance, assault). The aim of law is to distribute wealth or resources fairly between groups or individuals, and it must also ensure that people are treated equally before the courts. The latter aim is sometimes achieved through a legal system that seeks to establish that judges and officers do not show bias or prejudice when judging cases.