Law is a structured system of laws developed and enforced by governmental or civic institutions to govern behavior, which with its exact definition is a matter of long-standing debate. It can be defined as the practice of civil law, the application of ethical principles to particular areas of life, including law. In other words, law is a code of conduct determined by individuals or groups. The area of law that falls into the realm of morals, or civil law, covers issues such as freedom of speech and expression, discrimination, private property, family law, divorce and other domestic issues. A number of other terms are commonly used to describe the discipline: litigation, adjudication, case law, and process of law. There are many other legal systems around the world, but the ones that are most closely associated with the practice of law include the American judicial system, the Common Law system of England, the European judicial system and the indigenous systems of some indigenous societies.

The practice of law is the most venerable and one of the most important areas of human endeavor. In fact, it is commonly acknowledged that without law, society would quickly disintegrate into chaos and would eventually claim all of its advancements. Because of this, it is important to understand that the laws that regulate particular behaviors do not necessarily apply to everyone. That is why there are legal systems and laws that protect certain groups of people, while not applying to the majority.

For instance, laws that are designed to ensure that children are safe from harm, while respecting the rights of parents to raise their children in a stable and moral environment are essential to ensuring social justice. Justice is based upon a concept of right and wrong that is inherent within the culture of each individual and is attributable to the existence of a societal structure. This definition is inclusive of the concepts of fairness, equality, and social responsibility. These concepts are rooted in the belief that all individuals have a responsibility to serve and protect the interests of others and that social norms must be observed in order to maintain social order.

By contrast, a utilitarian would view morality as something that is only important for the individual in question. Utilitarians believe that the ends of morality are always justifiable and that utilitarian values are the only correct ethical values. A utilitarian would support free markets as the means to realize moral objectives while favoring a minimal state so that the individuals who live under these constraints are not harmed by the system. By contrast, a deontologist would view morality as something that applies to everybody, including humans as a group. Humans are said to have morality because they are part of a group, even if that group is composed of individuals who hold diverse moral views.

Within the modern society of Western civilization, however, a distinction is made between what are considered immoral and unimportant by Western standards. Utilists deny the importance of moral standards, and utilitarian moral standards often result in social injustice and an unequal society. By contrast, gerontologists believe that the value of morality is essential to the pursuit of a good life and to be pursuable through the proper institution of civil society. The result is an unequal society where some groups benefit while others suffer from a society lacking any social institution of moral values.

A utilitarian would argue that the only morally relevant principle is the maxim that the greatest good of a society is the well being of its members. A deontologist, by contrast, believes that morality is something that relates to the individual, and that it is important for the individual to respect the rights of others and to participate meaningfully in society in order to benefit its members. Each of these moral perspectives can be seen as supporting a particular interpretation of the social contract.

By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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