Definition of Law and Schools of Jurisprudence
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Definition of Law and Schools of Jurisprudence

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Law is a fundamental aspect of society that regulates human behavior, defines permissible conduct, and ensures justice and fairness. It is a complex system of rules and regulations that govern various aspects of human activities. In the field of jurisprudence, the study of law and its principles is essential to understand the nature and purpose of legal systems. Jurisprudence explores the philosophical, historical, sociological, and ethical foundations of law, offering different schools of thought that provide unique perspectives on the subject.

What is Law?

Law can be defined as a comprehensive body of rules and regulations that are based on principles of justice, fairness, and convenience. These rules are established by governmental bodies to regulate human behavior and provide a framework for resolving disputes and maintaining order in society. It sets a standard of conduct that individuals and organizations must adhere to, ensuring harmony and stability. Law encompasses a wide range of areas, including criminal law, civil law, constitutional law, administrative law, and more.

General Meaning

Law, in its broadest sense, refers to a set of rules created by state institutions through the authority of the state. These laws have sanctions that are recognized by the state and enforced by state-authorized bodies. It is a rule of human action that governs our daily lives, dictating what we can and cannot do. Laws play a central role in social, political, and economic life, shaping our interactions and relationships with others. They provide a framework for resolving conflicts, protecting individual rights, and maintaining social order.

Schools of Jurisprudence

Jurisprudence, as a field of study, encompasses various schools of thought that offer different perspectives on the nature and purpose of law. These schools of jurisprudence provide unique insights into the origins, development, and application of legal systems. Let's explore five major schools of jurisprudence:

  1. Analytical School
  2. Sociological School
  3. Historical School
  4. Philosophical School
  5. Realist School

Analytical School

The analytical school of jurisprudence focuses on the study of law as it exists in its present form. It seeks to analyze and understand the law as it is, without delving into its historical or social context. The major premise of the analytical school is to deal with law as it currently stands, without considering its past or future. This school is known by various names, such as the Austinian school, the imperative school, or the positivist school.

John Austin

John Austin, often regarded as the father of English Jurisprudence, played a significant role in developing the analytical school of jurisprudence. According to Austin, law is a command of the sovereign backed by a sanction. He emphasized that law is whatever the law-maker, the one with the authority to make laws, says it is, and it supersedes judgments by judges or precedents. Austin distinguished law from morality and divided it into divine law and human law.

Merits and Demerits

The analytical school offers several merits, including a simple and clear definition of law, the establishment of exact boundaries within which jurisprudence operates, and the foundation of English jurisprudence. However, it also has its demerits. It overlooks customs, ignores the permissive character of the law, does not consider judge-made law, and overemphasizes the command aspect of law, among other limitations.

Sociological School

The sociological school of jurisprudence focuses on the relationship between law and society. It recognizes that law is a social phenomenon that has a significant impact on society. This school emphasizes the role of law in balancing the welfare of the state and individuals. It considers the socio-economic problems of the present time and advocates for the improvement of laws to address these issues.

Roscoe Pound

Roscoe Pound, a prominent figure in the sociological school of jurisprudence, concentrated on the functional aspect of law. He believed that the end of law should be to satisfy a maximum of wants with a minimum of friction. Pound introduced the theory of social engineering, which aims to balance competing interests in society. He advocated for jurists to work with a plan that protects various interests and safeguards social solidarity.

Merits and Demerits

The sociological school has merits such as focusing on the practical implications of law, considering the social ends of law, and emphasizing the improvement of law through human effort. However, it also has demerits, including the classification of interests, the vagueness of social solidarity, and the neglect of the dynamic nature of law and the interrelationship between law and morality.

Historical School

The historical school of jurisprudence focuses on the origin and development of law. It argues that law is not made but rather found. This school emphasizes the influence of customs, conventions, religious principles, and economic needs in shaping legal systems. The historical school believes that law evolves in response to the changing needs of society and that customs are superior to legislation.

Friedrich Karl von Savigny

Friedrich Karl von Savigny, the founder of the historical school of jurisprudence, played a crucial role in describing the origin of law. Savigny believed that law is an outcome of the development of society and originates from conventions, customs, religious principles, and economic needs. He considered custom as the best expression of the national spirit or Volksgeist, which is superior to legislation.

Merits and Demerits

The historical school provides merits such as tracing the evolution of law in various societies and laying the seeds for the development of sociological and evolutionary jurisprudence. However, it also has its demerits, including inconsistency in Savigny's assertions, the emphasis on national character while ignoring the study of German law, and the lack of consideration for judge-made law.

Philosophical School

The philosophical school, also known as the ethical or natural school, believes that legal philosophy should be based on ethical values. It emphasizes the connection between law and specific philosophical thoughts. This school argues that legal restrictions are justified when they promote the freedom of individuals in society and maintain social harmony.


Hugo Grotius, the founder of international law, believed that a system of natural law could be derived from the social nature of human beings. He defined natural law as the dictate of right reason, which points out the moral baseness or moral necessity of an act in accordance with rational nature. Grotius built a system of natural law based on inherent moral worth and universal respect.

Merits and Demerits

The philosophical school offers merits such as emphasizing morals to describe righteous conduct, providing a system of natural law based on moral worth, and focusing on the reasons and origins of law. However, it also has demerits, including the difference between ethics and morality, the neglect of other factors influencing law, and the lack of practical application.

Realist School

The realist school of jurisprudence focuses on the decisions made by courts and their impact on the legal system. It emphasizes the evaluation of legal concepts and values based on their effects. Realists challenge traditional legal values and concepts, highlighting the discrepancies between what courts or common people do and what legal theories suggest. They have a pragmatic approach and emphasize the role of judges in applying the law.

John Chipman Grey

John Chipman Grey, considered the father of American Realism, believed that codified laws are immaterial unless they are applied by judges. He argued that law exists in the judgments passed by courts. According to Grey, written rules are lifeless until infused with life by judges' application.

Merits and Demerits

The realist school offers merits such as a relatable approach to real-life, the chance for individual interpretation, and a focus on observing similar cases in the past. However, it also has demerits, including the neglect of statute law, excessive faith in judges, and the lack of consideration for judges' personal bias.


Jurisprudence, the scientific study of law, explores the nature, purpose, and principles of legal systems. The schools of jurisprudence provide different perspectives on law, offering insights into its origins, development, and application. The analytical school focuses on law as it exists, while the sociological school considers the relationship between law and society. The historical school emphasizes the origin and development of law, and the philosophical school connects law with ethical values. Lastly, the realist school examines the impact of court decisions on the legal system. These schools of thought contribute to a comprehensive understanding of law and its role in society.

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