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An obligation is a course of action that someone is required to take, whether
legal Law is a system A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea of a two-way effect is essential in the concept of interaction, as oppose ...
or
moral A moral (from Latin ''morālis'') is a message that is conveyed or a lesson to be learned from a narrative, story or wikt:event, event. The moral may be left to the hearer, reader, or viewer to determine for themselves, or may be explicitly enca ...
. Obligations are constraints; they limit freedom. People who are under obligations may choose to freely act under obligations. Obligation exists when there is a choice to do what is morally good and what is morally unacceptable. There are also obligations in other normative contexts, such as obligations of
etiquette Etiquette ( and ; ) is the set of conventional rules of personal behaviour in polite society, usually in the form of an ethical code Ethical codes are adopted by organizations to assist members in understanding the difference between right ...

etiquette
,
social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology The word "Social" derives fr ...

social
obligations,
religious Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology ...
and possibly in terms of
politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of res ...

politics
, where obligations are requirements which must be fulfilled. These are generally
legal Law is a system A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea of a two-way effect is essential in the concept of interaction, as oppose ...

legal
obligations, which can incur a penalty for non-fulfilment, although certain people are obliged to carry out certain actions for other reasons as well, whether as a
tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of conscious ...

tradition
or for social reasons. Obligations vary from person to person: for example, a person holding a political office will generally have far more obligations than an average adult citizen, who themselves will have more obligations than a child. Obligations are generally granted in return for an increase in an individual's rights or power.


Other uses

The term obligate can also be used in a biological context, in reference to species which must occupy a certain niche or behave in a certain way in order to survive. In biology, the opposite of obligate is
facultative {{wiktionary, facultative Facultative means "optional" or "discretionary" (antonym '' obligate''), used mainly in biology in phrases such as: * Facultative (FAC), facultative wetland (FACW), or facultative upland (FACU): wetland indicator statuses ...
, meaning that a species is able to behave in a certain way and may do so under certain circumstances, but that it can also survive without having to behave this way. For example, species of salamanders in the family
Proteidae The family Proteidae is a group of aquatic salamanders found today in the Balkan Peninsula The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent ...
are obligate paedomorphs, whereas species belonging to the
Ambystomatidae Ambystomatidae is a family (biology), family of salamanders belonging to the order Caudata in the class Amphibia. It contains only one genus, ''Ambystoma'' (but also Dicamptodon?), the mole salamanders. These salamanders are mostly terrestrial and ...
are facultative paedomorphs. In the Catholic Church, Holy Days of Obligation or Holidays of Obligation, less commonly called Feasts of Precept, are the days on which, as canon 1247 of the
1983 Code of Canon Law The 1983 Code of Canon Law (abbreviated 1983 CIC from its Latin title ''Codex Iuris Canonici''), also called the Johanno-Pauline Code, is the "fundamental body of ecclesiastical laws for the Latin Church". It is the second and current comprehens ...
states, the faithful are obliged to participate in the
Mass Mass is the quantity Quantity is a property that can exist as a multitude or magnitude, which illustrate discontinuity and continuity. Quantities can be compared in terms of "more", "less", or "equal", or by assigning a numerical value ...
.


Obligation and morality

An obligation is contract between an individual and the thing or person to which or whom they are obligated. If the contract is breached the individual can be subject to blame. When entering into an obligation people generally do not think about the guilt that they would experience if the obligation is not fulfilled; instead they think about how they can fulfil the obligation. Rationalists argue people respond in this way because they have a reason to fulfill the obligation. According to the sanction theory, an obligation corresponds to the social pressures one feels, and is not simply derived from a singular relationship with another person or project. In the rationalist argument, this same pressure adds to the reasons people have, thereby strengthening their desire to fulfill the obligation. The sanction theory states there needs to be a sanction in order for a duty to be a moral duty.


Sociological view of obligation versus philosophical view of obligation

Sociologists believe that obligations lead people to act in ways that society deems acceptable. Every society has their own way of governing, they expect their citizens to behave in a particular manner. Not only do the citizens have to oblige to the societal norms, they want to, in order to assimilate to society. Philosophers on the other hand, argue that rational beings have moral duties, they make a choice to either fulfill these moral duties or disregard them. They have a moral responsibility to fulfill their obligations.
Duty A duty (from "due" meaning "that which is owing"; fro, deu, did, past participle of ''devoir''; la, debere, debitum, whence "debt Debt is an obligation that requires one party, the debtor A debtor or debitor is a legal entity (legal ...

Duty
is seen as the response to an individual's obligations. Obligations require an action being done and duty is the carrying out of this action. Sociologists believe that an obligation is an objective force, philosophers however, believe obligations are moral imperatives.


Types of obligations


Written obligations

Written obligations are
contract A contract is a legally binding agreement that defines and governs the rights and duties between or among its parties Image:'Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Artist Festival at Skagen', by Peder Severin Krøyer (1888) Demisted with DXO PhotoLab Clearview ...

contract
s. They legally bind two people into an agreement. Each person becomes responsible for doing their part of the contract. A legal contract consists of an offer, an acceptance of that offer, an intention to bind to one another in a legal agreement and a consideration, something of value to be exchanged.


Political obligation

A political obligation is a requirement for the citizens of a society to follow the laws of that society. There are philosophical issues, however, about whether a citizen should follow a law simply because it is a law. There are various views about whether a political obligation is a moral obligation.
John Rawls John Bordley Rawls (; February 21, 1921 – November 24, 2002) was an American moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was ori ...
argues that people do have political obligations because of the ''principle of fairness''. Humanity benefits from the joint effort of the government, so, in fairness, they should be active and supportive members of this effort. There are people, however, such as
Robert Nozick Robert Nozick (; November 16, 1938 – January 23, 2002) was an American philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meaning 'lov ...
, who argue enjoyment of a community effort does not mean obligation to that effort.


Social obligation

Social obligations refer to the things we as individuals accept because it is collectively accepted. When people agree to a promise or an agreement, they are collectively consenting to its terms. Humanity is obligated to fulfil that promise or agreement.


See also

* *
Convention Convention may refer to: * Convention (norm), a custom or tradition, a standard of presentation or conduct ** Treaty, an agreement in international law * Convention (meeting), meeting of a (usually large) group of individuals and/or companies in a ...
*
Duty A duty (from "due" meaning "that which is owing"; fro, deu, did, past participle of ''devoir''; la, debere, debitum, whence "debt Debt is an obligation that requires one party, the debtor A debtor or debitor is a legal entity (legal ...

Duty
*
Law of obligations The law of obligations is one branch of private law Private law is that part of a civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Steve ...


References


External links

* Philosophy of law Concepts in ethics Philosophy of life {{ethics-stub