The law is a set of rules that a society develops to regulate behavior. These rules may be imposed by the state through legislative process in statutes or decrees, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or created by judges through precedent in common law jurisdictions. A government can also have a constitution that codifies its fundamental rules and rights. The law can include rules for criminal behaviour, for business agreements, and for settling disputes by the courts. Individuals can also create legal agreements with others that are legally binding.
The concept of law is closely linked to the concepts of jurisprudence and ethics. For articles discussing these concepts, see jurisprudence; ethics; and the legal profession. In addition, the law is often seen as a source of political power. This power is exercised through a variety of means, including military force, police, and bureaucracy. In this context, the law is viewed as a tool for controlling social life and ensuring that those who have political or military power are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced, and independently adjudicated.
The law is often used as a proxy for the rule of power, and as such it is often the subject of debate and rebellion. The law is central to many of the issues involving human rights and democracy. It is also the focus of much scholarly inquiry in historical and philosophical studies, economic analysis, and sociology. For example, Max Weber reshaped thinking on the extension of state power and the role of law.