definition of obligations

An obligation is something that someone has to fulfill for some reason. The term is often used in the plural, since it is usual to fulfill more than one obligation.

One can speak of obligations in different contexts and in each of them the concept acquires a particular nuance. Thus, we comply with our obligations in our daily life, with the obligations established by law or those related to morality.

Obligations of daily life

At the beginning of a new day we have before us a whole series of tasks, which in some way are our obligations. We have to accompany the children to school, walk the dog, go to work or respond to emails. These types of actions have to be satisfied as an obligation because otherwise we would have some kind of problem or inconvenience.

If we think about the distribution of time in carrying out daily activities, we have free time in which we do whatever we want and, on the other hand, a series of obligations that we cannot avoid.

The law requires us to comply with the rules

We are subject to compliance with legal regulations. We cannot do what we want because there is a civil code, a penal code, a traffic code and, in general, a legal framework. And all this is mandatory, since failure to respect it is accompanied by a sanction, for example a fine.

Legal obligations have the purpose of ordering and facilitating coexistence in society as a whole. On the opposite side of the obligations established by law, we find rights. If we take a worker as a reference, he has a series of obligations (basically to carry out the tasks entrusted to him) and he also has recognized rights, the obligations and rights being set out in a legal text, in this case the workers' statute. .

The distinction between rights and obligations can have a general framework (for example, referring to people) or be circumscribed to something particular (for example, the rights and obligations of patients).

In the sphere of law, the concept of obligations arises in different senses (there is an alternative obligation, a civil one, the obligation to prove something or joint obligations).

Moral obligations

The human being has a natural moral dimension, since we all have an idea of ​​what is right and what is not. This distinction has consequences of all kinds, both in our daily lives and in the field of law. However, the concept of moral obligation can be understood in different ways. Thus, someone can say that he fulfills an obligation because he is convinced that it is his duty. Another person might say that they are fulfilling an obligation out of fear of the penalty and not because of their conviction about it. It could also be said that someone complies with the obligations because it is more profitable and useful than doing the opposite. A less common position would be that of one who proposes not to comply with their obligations, since they are imposed norms that limit individual freedom. It is appreciated, therefore, that there are different evaluations and approaches in relation to our moral obligations from a perspective of ethical reflection.

Moral obligations have, in turn, an individual and a collective dimension. Each person lives their duties or obligations in their own way. More generally, there are issues that affect us all (for example, we have a moral obligation to care for the planet as a whole).

Photos: iStock - Geber86 / DrGrounds

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