Difference between Duty and Obligation

A duty is the moral action that a person does out of his own desire, it means that it is a fact that may or may not be performed. An obligation connotes a strict fact of inescapable compliance almost always under a legal framework.

Have to

It is the function that a person carries out because he feels the desire or the need to do so. The duty is linked to the moral of the person, is motivated by the person and the state of consciousness of it. A duty is performed because it is considered to be the right thing to do, given certain circumstances. Duties play a great role in society because of those small actions that people must fulfill by being responsible, respectful and empathic. An example of duty is: when a child does his homework, he knows that it is correct to do it and that is why he does it.


It is an imposition, an inevitable fact of strict compliance. The obligation is forged by laws that stipulate both its compliance and a possible punishment if they are evaded. Obligation is a social pattern that a community must follow for optimal functioning. An example of an obligation would be to pay a fine imposed by an officer after a traffic signal violation.

Differences between duty and obligation

  • The obligation cannot be avoided, since it is conditioned by the law, it must be strictly complied with.
  • Duty has a personal aspect, where the individual’s morality leads him to want to do something or not.
  • Failure to comply with obligations has sanctions.
  • There is nothing that can force the fulfillment of a duty, if the person does not consider it correct.
  • The obligation is usually an act of more social relevance.
  • Homework can be small details.

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