What is the Difference Between Moral Duty and Legal Duty

The main difference between moral duty and legal duty is that moral duty does not consider the law, while legal duty does consider the law of a country.

A duty is a responsibility or an obligation. All members of society have to observe the obligations of society. A duty can be moral or legal. Duties arising from ethics or morality are called moral duties, while duties created by the law are called legal duties.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Moral Duty 
      – Definition, Characteristics, Examples
2. What is Legal Duty
      – Definition, Characteristics, Examples
3. What is the Difference Between Moral Duty and Legal Duty
      – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Duty, Legal Duty, Moral Duty

Difference Between Moral Duty and Legal Duty - Comparison Summary

What is Moral Duty

A moral duty is an obligation based on morality or ethics. People are not legally bound to observe moral duties. In other words, moral duty has no relation to the law. If someone does not perform these duties, they cannot be punished by the law. Moral duties depend mainly on a person’s conscience. They can also depend on other factors, such as social background and religion. Let’s now look at some examples of moral duty.

Difference Between Moral Duty and Legal Duty

Examples of Moral Duty

  • Obeying your parents and teachers
  • Helping the poor and needy
  • Looking after your money
  • Earning money by fair means
  • Serving your country to the best of your ability

The legal duty is completely different from moral duty. A legal duty is an obligation based created by the law of a country. Citizens of a country are legally bound to perform these duties. If they do not perform them, the state can punish them. For example, citizens have to show obedience to the constitution, pay taxes honestly and regularly. It’s also citizens’ legal duty to remain loyal to the country. Let’s look at some more examples of legal duty.

Main Difference - Moral Duty vs Legal Duty

Examples of Legal Duty

  • Duty to care for children as legal guardians
  • Reporting a felony is a legal duty
  • Duty to vote (some countries have mandatory voting)

Definition

A moral duty is an obligation based on morality or ethics, while a legal duty is an obligation based created by the law of a country.

Legality

We are not legally bound to observe moral duties, but we legally bound to observe legal duties.

Punishment

If a person does not perform a moral duty, he will not receive punishment. However, if a person does not perform a legal duty, he will be punished by the law and state.

Example

Respecting your parents and teachers, looking after your family, and helping the needy are some examples of moral duties while obeying the constitution, pay taxes honestly and regularly are examples of legal duties.

Conclusion

A moral duty is an obligation based on morality or ethics, while a legal duty is an obligation based created by the law of a country. Thus, this is the main difference between moral duty and legal duty. Moreover, if a person does not perform a moral duty, he will not receive punishment. However, if a person does not perform a legal duty, he will be punished by the law and state. Respecting your parents and teachers, looking after your family, and helping the needy are some examples of moral duties while obeying the constitution, pay taxes honestly and regularly are examples of legal duties.

Reference:

1. “Duty.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Sept. 2020, Available here.
2. “Moral and Legal Duties of Individuals towards Society.” Political Science Notes, 9 Aug. 2014, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Moral” By Nick Youngson (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Picpedia.Org
2. “Legal Gavel & Open Law Book (27905720280)” By howtostartablogonline.net – Legal Gavel & Open Law Book (CC BY 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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