Introduction to Law and the Legal System
August 8, 2011
Defining Law and Various Jurisprudential Schools of Thought
During this week’s lesson we examined the broad topic of law, the legal system and jurisprudence. To examine further, let’s examine the narrow definition of law and look into some of the various forms of jurisprudential thought.
Before taking a much narrower look at law and its various forms, we must first ask, “What is Law?” Law is defined as “rules established by a governing authority to institute and maintain orderly coexistence” (‘Lectric Law Library, 2009), yet even that definition is overly broad. While this definition is universally accepted, different forms of government rely on different methodologies to govern and all forms of law are the same. For example, our current form of secular law is the evolution of centuries of various forms of law such as Canon Law, which is law handed down by religious institutions, and is provided by a secular group of representatives of the people (‘Lectric Law Library, 2009). In countries which maintain theocratic governments, such as Islamic nations, Canon Law, handed down by the religious body, is the foundation for their systems of law (Mahalo, 2009) If narrowing the definition of law relies on governments and schools of government and jurisprudential thought, we must next ask what schools of jurisprudential thought exist. As we have touched upon Canon Law previously, let’s evaluate three other schools of jurisprudential thought including the Natural Law, Historical and Sociological schools. The Natural Law school of jurisprudential thought is the oldest view of law, dating back to ancient Greece, and maintains that law and ethics are naturally discoverable through reason by all humans (Black Hills State University, 2009). Americans who are familiar with the Declaration of Independence will likely be able to spot...