The Philosophy Of Law

The Philosophy Of Law

The Philosophy of​ Law
When we​ think of​ law,​ and what law means to​ us as​ a​ society,​ we​ all have a​ good idea,​ or​ rather an​ innate sense,​ of​ what law is​ and the​ kind of​ things to​ expect .​
But trying to​ put an​ accurate definition on​ what law is​ is​ somewhat more of​ a​ difficult task .​
This very question lies at​ the​ heart of​ the​ study of​ jurisprudence,​ or​ legal philosophy .​
Since early civilisation,​ philosophers and thinkers have worked with a​ view to​ establishing a​ definitive meaning of​ what law is​ and where it​ fits in​ to​ the​ community .​
From these efforts have arisen major 'schools' of​ thought which demonstrate ideas and concepts distinct from one and other yet equally valid in​ their interpretations.
When asked 'what is​ law?',​ most people will proffer an​ initial response along the​ lines of​ 'law is​ rules',​ or​ on​ a​ more complex level,​ 'law is​ the​ rules that regulate our behaviour' .​
This basic response is​ actually very valid,​ and true it​ forms the​ cornerstone of​ numerous schools of​ thought .​
However,​ posing slightly more probing questions raises doubts as​ to​ the​ validity of​ this statement,​ and casts doubt over a​ large consensus of​ lay-opinion on​ the​ matter .​
For example,​ if​ the​ law is​ a​ regulatory body of​ rules,​ then by itself it​ is​ useless .​
Rules alone can surely only set parameters at​ most,​ and can never seek to​ regulate independently .​
In order to​ provide this regulatory aspect,​ there is​ a​ requirement for something more; there is​ a​ requirement for enforcement,​ or​ coercion .​
In our society,​ this is​ provided by the​ threat of​ sanctions like prison and fines .​
Therefore our traditional notion of​ law as​ 'rules' is​ deeply flawed: law must be more of​ an​ interaction between rules and a​ physical persuasion .​
In other words,​ we​ need some motivation to​ obey the​ law,​ partly as​ a​ consequence of​ our nature as​ human beings,​ to​ keep us within its boundaries and to​ keep up above its line of​ governance,​ therefore there is​ more required to​ offer an​ accurate description than this simple straightforward idea.
Consider also this fundamental point in​ determining the​ nature of​ law at​ a​ conceptual level .​
If the​ law,​ as​ we​ see it,​ is​ a​ body of​ rules,​ in​ what sense do these rules operate,​ i.e .​
are the​ prescriptive (how one must behave),​ or​ descriptive (how the​ majority of​ society behave) .​
If it​ is​ prescriptive,​ there would essentially be a​ requirement for every citizen to​ learn the​ law from a​ young age in​ order to​ ensure consistency with the​ proscriptive body of​ legislation .​
If on​ the​ other hand it​ is​ descriptive of​ how society behaves,​ this raises the​ problem of​ authority: the​ way society behaves is​ not an​ objective concept,​ therefore why should any given person or​ body of​ people be afforded a​ subjective look at​ what is​ right and what is​ wrong? In a​ nation with strong fundamental freedoms,​ it​ is​ even more peculiar that the​ law is​ allowed to​ operate,​ if​ it​ were to​ operate in​ this sense .​
Rather it​ would seem more apt to​ consider law as​ a​ relationship between people internally (with other people) and with the​ state,​ with an​ element of​ mutual consensus in​ achieving the​ relevant social ends.
From this basic analysis of​ the​ conceptual nature of​ law,​ it​ is​ obvious that there is​ scope for debate .​
So much so,​ legal scholars have for generations sought academic argumentation and competition with other writers .​
From Aristotle to​ Dworkin to​ HLA Hart and beyond,​ the​ concept of​ the​ nature of​ law is​ one which is​ both fascinating and complex,​ with many facets and caveats yet to​ be explored .​
In an​ international legal context,​ the​ study of​ jurisprudence transcends jurisdiction and specific legal training moving towards the​ realms of​ independent thought and observation .​
Nevertheless the​ nature of​ law is​ a​ popular academic study,​ as​ well as​ an​ interesting and thought provoking topic for the​ 'everyday' citizen subject to​ its governance.

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