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Jurisprudence is the theory and philosophy of law. Scholars of jurisprudence, or legal philosophers, hope to obtain a deeper understanding of the nature of law, of legal reasoning, legal systems and of legal institutions. As jurisprudence has developed, there are three main aspects with which scholarly writing engages:Natural law The idea that there are unchangeable laws of nature which govern us, and that our institutions should try to match this natural law. Analytic jurisprudence Asking questions like, "What is law?" "What are the criteria for legal validity?" or "What is the relationship between law and morality?" and other such questions that legal philosophers may engage. Normative jurisprudence Asking what law ought to be. It overlaps with moral and political philosophy, and includes questions of whether one ought to obey the law, on what grounds law-breakers might properly be punished, the proper uses and limits of regulation, how judges ought to decide cases.
Modern jurisprudence and philosophy of law is dominated today primarily by Western academics. The ideas of the Western legal tradition have become so pervasive throughout the world that it is tempting to see them as universal. Historically, however, many philosophers from other traditions have discussed the same questions, from Islamic scholars to the ancient Greeks.