Law is a set of norms and standards that are created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. The precise definition of the term is contested, but it includes rules about the rights and responsibilities of individuals and societies and the processes through which laws are made, enforced, adjudicated, and modified. The rule of law is a universal principle that seeks to ensure that both public and private entities are held accountable by laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced, transparent, stable, and consistent with internationally recognized human rights norms and standards.
A common view of law is that it protects society’s shared beliefs and values. In this view, conflicts are unavoidable in a diverse society composed of persons with different needs, wants, views, and values. To address these conflict, the law provides a formal mechanism for resolving them — the court system.
Another view is that the purpose of law is to ensure justice. This may take the form of distributive or corrective justice. The former aims to distribute the benefits of social life fairly among society’s members, while the latter seeks to rectify injustice.
The word law can also refer to a commandment or revelation from God. When this is the case, it usually refers to a specific commandment in the Bible (e.g., Matthew 5:18). In other cases, it refers to the entirety of Mosaic law. See Revelation and Scripture, Mosaic law, and Christian doctrine, law of.