An obligation is a requirement or duty to act in a certain way. It is characterised as a moral duty, rather than a ‘coercive’ force (H.L.A.HART).
- Fulfilled because such conduct is seen to be morally correct e.g. to give a promise is to be under a moral obligation regardless of the consequences of breaking it.
- Advocators of this idea point out that most obligations are by choice and not contractual.
- Made clear by obligations within families – children to parents.
- J.J.ROUSSEAU – ‘general will’ – people will oblige because they believe that the state is acting in the interests of the people.
- Socialists, because of their commitment to community and co-operation, place responsibility on every human being towards others.
- KROPOTKIN – society demands sociable, co-operative and respectful behaviour from its members.
- These obligations exist as a result of our membership of a political state
- J.J.ROUSSEAU – social contract
- Citizens can claim that they gain no benefit from the state and hence have no obligation towards it
- HOBBES and LOCKE – ‘state of nature’
- Governments must rule with consent
- Without obligation, society descends into civil war – all against all. Therefore the rational human beings would be prepared to enter a social contract
- HOBBES argued that citizens have an absolute obligation to government, regardless of how they behave.
- This is because the existence of a state, however it acts, is better than no state at all
- LOCKE: Individuals who form a society must sacrifice some of their liberty to secure order and stability in society; individuals trust their government to protect their rights.
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