The Fundamentals of Law


Law is a set of rules that govern behavior and are enforced by governmental and social institutions. While the exact definition of law is debatable, many people see it as a form of justice and a science. This article explores some of the fundamental principles of law. Also, we will explore the formal and procedural aspects of law.

Principles of the Rule of Law

Principles of the Rule of Law are a set of legal norms that govern the conduct of a community. These include procedural principles and substantive ideals. The former focuses on the rules of law and the processes by which they are administered. The latter focuses on the institutions that are necessary to implement these norms. Although many people disagree with these ideals, they all share certain fundamental concepts.

One fundamental feature of Rule of Law theory is the laundry list of principles that it describes. While the principles are of disparate kinds, they are largely related to the formal and procedural aspects of governance by law. They also embrace certain substantive values. Among the principles are those addressing the formal aspects of law, such as generality, prospectivity, consistency, and practicability. Other principles include stability and congruence.

Formal aspects

The study of the formal aspects of law is a relatively new branch of legal theory. It focuses on the characteristics of law within a society, particularly at the legislative level. The field also includes legal philosophy and legal informatics. Although the formal aspects of law are important, they must be compatible with other characteristics of law, such as the need for social interpretation.

While many jurists follow Raz’s 1977 argument that the Rule of Law is entirely a formal ideal, others contend that the formal/procedural aspects of law actually generate momentum in the substantive direction. Legal philosophers have identified eight formal principles of law, among which are generality, prospectivity, consistency, clarity, and stability.


Values of law are fundamental principles that regulate human behavior. These include the rejection of unfairness, respect for the individual, and the insistence on essential equality. They may also be reflected in formal laws and regulations, but they are not necessarily jurisdictional. Values are based on individual beliefs and behaviors, and tend to be adopted by individuals. While many values are derived from culture and society, some transcend both cultures.

There are three main categories of legal values: classical, non-classical, and post-nonclassical. Classical values are the “givenness” of a norm. This is a general principle that governs the practice of law and is the foundation of legal theory and practice. Non-classical values, on the other hand, reflect the stable formation of the human psyche and personality, which is shaped through the assimilation of external content. Post-nonclassical legal values are a product of the human conscience and reflect the unchanging principles and values that govern human behavior.

Organization of legal systems

Organization of legal systems relates to the design of legal institutions. Legal systems are historically shaped, and the design of these institutions has long-lasting consequences. For example, the way a legal system is organized may be determined by the type of organization it was created in. A legal system may be based on a federal or state system, but its constituent parts may have different laws and rules.

Legal systems vary significantly along two important organizational dimensions: the degree of state intervention in law-making, and the participation of citizens in legal enforcement. These dimensions influence the primary function of law, which may range from protective to coordinative. We explore these dimensions of legal systems, and highlight analytical differences between the legal origins analysis and our framework.