Students Guide: Exploring the Conceptual Correlation of Duty and Obligation

Conceptual correlation of duty and obligation is very apposite for every Nigeria  students to understand in subsequent time as such morality is not limited to Nigeria students but also applicable all society.Conceptual Correlation of Duty and Obligation;

To really make the concepts of duty and obligation intelligible in this article, it is relevant to engage in one tasks here. The tasks is to show the correlativity between duty and obligation as basic concepts in moral and political life of people.

To begin with, the most obvious conceptual relationship between duty and obligation is grammatical: they belong to classes of words that are either nouns or nominals (the latter being words that may not be nouns in themselves, but still have the capacity of being used as nouns) in sentences.

Moreover, it is equally found in the literature of moral and political philosophy that both duty and obligation are conceptually correlative. According to Michael Josephson, a duty is an obligation to act in a certain way. When the obligation is founded on moral and ethical considerations, then it is regarded as a moral duty. Josephson notes further that moral duties may be negative or affirmative. He states that often, we think about moral duties in terms of rules that restrain us: the “don’ts,” as in don’t lie; don’t cheat, or don’t steal. Such rules are called negative dimension of moral duty in the sense that they inform us about  what not to do, but not what to do. He states further that since ethics is concerned with the way we ought to be, it therefore also includes an affirmative dimension  that consists of things we should do, such as keeping promises, judging others fairly, and treating people with respect, kindness and compassion. Conceptual Correlation of Duty and Obligation;

B. Brandt also agrees with Josephson, when he notes that philosophers often use the following expressions as approximate equivalents: “It is X’s duty to do A;” “It is obligatory for X to do A;” “It would be wrong for X not to do A;” “X oughttodo A.” The statements are all expressive of a hidden position that if X fails to do A, then s/he would be legally punished or be morally condemned or reprimanded. In the same way, Richard Dagger also states that obligations are also duties, especially, when the obligation in question is political obligation. Considering the view of Dagger in the present context, one could reiterate that to say “X has an obligation to obey the laws of the state” is parallel to the statement that “X has a duty to obey the laws of the state.

There is yet another correlation between the two concepts that is deducible from the conclusion made from Dagger’s position. The correlation is that both concepts are expressive of directives. Directives are imperative statements made to bring about specific actions and / or effects on the part of the moral  agents to  whom they are issued. Failure to follow this directive may attract a clearly  specified punishment (if it is a legal directive) or moral denunciation (if it is a  moral directive). In this light, a directive has three basic features: (1) the authority (legal or moral; known or implied; personal or institutional) that is responsible for the directive; (2) the moral agent (whom is so-called because of his / her capability to engage in moral reflection) to whom the directive is issued, and (3) the specific action required of the moral agent in that material context (or, in some remote case, the effect expected of the specific action of the moral agent in the given context). Thus, in the statement: “X has an obligation to obey the laws of the state,” which,  as said earlier, is equivalent to the statement that “X has a duty to obey the laws of the state; the tripartite features are in evidence. There is an implied authority (legal or moral; known or implied; personal or institutional), from which the statement issues; there is X, the moral agent for whom the directive is meant, and there is Y, the specific action expected of X. And, this statement, being ontologically a directive, entails that X, the moral agent involved in the material context, may be punished or morally reprimanded, should s/he fail to act specifically as directed.

Conceptual Correlation of Duty and Obligation;Conceptual Correlation of Duty and Obligation;

Moreover, yet another conceptual link between duty and obligation is that whenever they are used with respect to a moral agent to perform a given action, the idea of commitment is invoked in the mind of the agent, concerning the action. In other words, the moral agent is expected to be committed to the performance of the action so involved. Thus, to say that, “X has an obligation to obey the laws of the state,” or, equivalently, “X has a duty to obey the laws of the state, is not intended to mean that X should obey the laws of the state only on occasions s/he so wishes, or when s/he is forced to do so. Rather, it meant that s/he should show a strong commitment to the obedience of the laws of the state, even when there is no institutional force to ensure the obedience on his/ her part.


Leave a Reply