The Purposes of Law

Law is the rules that govern how people and groups are able to act. It includes the laws that govern how the government and private actors should behave and the rules of justice that are used to resolve disputes.

The law serves many purposes: it keeps the peace; maintains the status quo; preserves individual rights; protects minorities against majorities; promotes social justice; and provides for orderly social change. Some legal systems are more effective than others at these goals.

Keeping the Peace

The main purpose of law is to keep people safe. This is done by providing a legal system where people can go to court if they are accused of a crime.

Maintaining the Status Quo

The law can keep the peace by preventing violence and controlling the behavior of people. This is often done through a police force or other types of law enforcement agencies.

Preserving Individual Rights

A person has a right when it is clear that they have been injured or wronged. This right may be based on a broader right or it can be based on other rights that are derived from the underlying right (Raz 1986: 168-170).

Protection of Minorities

A person’s rights may be protected by law when they are deprived of their property, their livelihood, or their freedom. The law can also prevent the oppression of minorities by the government or by other groups.

Proving a Crime

The process of proving a criminal’s guilt or innocence by evidence. This can include testimony from witnesses, exhibits, and other information. The jury or judge will decide the case for one side or the other.

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