Understanding the Function of Law


Law is a system of rules regulating the conduct of people and groups in a particular society or country. It varies widely and may be quite different in terms of scope, content, or structure from one country to another and even within a single nation.

Several theories of the function of rights have been proposed, among them the demand theory (Feinberg 1970; 1980; 1992; Darwall 2006: 18-19), the claim-rights theory (Feinberg 1973; 1977; 1990; Raz 1986), and the preemptory reason theory (Dworkin 1977; Lyons 1982). The claim-rights theory stresses the capacity or power of right-holders to claim or demand that others abide by certain norms.

In contrast, the preemptory reason theory emphasizes the capacity or power of rights to prevent other reasons pertaining as to whether or not to ph from enjoying a measure of qualitative precedence over those reasons (Dworkin 1977: 86, 97). This is because it does not follow that rights are always more important than other reasons that pertain as to whether or not to ph; rather, rights enjoy some sort of qualitative priority over competing reasons that imply a higher standard of justice in general.

Although this theory has a number of shortcomings, it does offer some important insights. For example, it can explain how at times an infringement of one legal right can be impermissible, even if a broader good or utility is achieved or preserved in the process (Dworkin 1977: 96-97).

The demand theory also suggests that a legal system should be committed to a principle of equality and non-discrimination. This would be in contrast to a legal system that is oriented toward the ideal of treating the individual person as law’s primary unit of concern, as in civil law systems.

A second important insight offered by the claim-rights theory is that rights are sometimes a justification for correlative duties, i.e., that they justify duties to act in a way that does not violate the underlying rights of right-objects (Dworkin 1977: 177-182). However, this is only true when limiting a rights-based justification to claims-rights and not other types of legal systems, such as duty-based ones or those which treat all human beings as equally valuable (Kramer 1998: 35-40; Simmonds 1998: 158-165)

When writing a law article, it is essential to have a clear research question. This should be the guiding axis of your piece and you must then be sure to address it in every step of your writing.

You should then be able to present the relevant principles of law in a detailed manner. This should be done smoothly, logically and comprehensively to make your piece of writing easy for the audience to understand.

This should be backed up with authorities, which is the process of citing or quoting other authors to support a salient principle of law. Authority sources can include domestic and international enactments, case laws, law dictionaries, foreign laws and cases, obiter dictum, and comments by legal authors.

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