What Is Law?


Law is a system of statutory and constitutional norms regulating all aspects of human interaction. It is a complex and ever-evolving set of rules.

The main components of Law are claims, privileges, powers, and immunities (Lyons 1970). These normative bases determine what parties must or may do, as well as how they must behave to achieve certain goals.

Rights are Hohfeldian positions that function to give right-holders “small-scale sovereign” over certain domains of human activity (Hart 1982: 183-4). They operate in two ways: by providing choice-oriented rights to act or not to act, and by vesting “small-scale sovereign” power over the duties owed to them by others.

A right’s stringency, which measures the extent to which it peremptorily trumps or excludes other competing reasons, is a matter of political philosophy and normative jurisprudence (Lyons 1994: 152). It also matters how demanding are the duties that entail a right-holder’s interest in ph.

A legal right is a reason to ph that, unlike other reasons, punches above its normative weight. This is why a law recognizing a legal right to ph can sometimes outweigh other conflicting reasons, even though they are both equally legitimate and relevant (Hart 1982: 85; Nozick 1974: 171-173). It is also why a right can still be an effective preemptory reason when in conflict with other more weightier reasons.

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