The Functions of Law

Law of some variety has been a part of society since the time of the most primitive societies. Initially the primary purpose of the law was to keep the peace, but as society became more complex and developed, the law took on additional functions. Today, at least eight major functions of law can be identified: (1) to keep the peace, (2) to influence and enforce standards of conduct, (3) to maintain the status quo in certain aspects of society, (4) to facilitate orderly change, (5) to allow for maximum self-assertion by the individual, (6) to facilitate planning and the realization of reasonable expectations, (7) to promote social justice, and (8) to provide a mechanism for compromise solutions between polar principles and positions.

There are limits on the use of the law in certain contexts. For example, the Constitution of the United States and the constitutions of the various states typically place limits on the application of law; the courts themselves have traditionally refused to concern themselves with insignificant or moot matters and hypothetical questions.

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