Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 25, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952637 | Print ISBN: 9780761923879 | Online ISBN: 9781412952637| Publisher:Sage Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Law is different from other fields in human life, such as art, science, and other professional disciplines; its structure is fundamentally based on obligations and not on commitments. For instance, there is a distinction between a dentist's nonobligatory (ethical) commitment to provide her patient with the best possible medical treatment, possibly imagined, and the dentist's (legal) obligation toward the patient and the state to hold a license to practice. Typically, the ethical breach of a commitment may result in social sanctions against the wrongdoer, although unlawful infringement of obligations may often render civil sanctions and criminal punishments against the offender. There is dissimilarity between law and religion in this context. A religious believer may reason that he is indebted not only to religious commitment, but also to religious obligations. Nevertheless, a failure to observe a religious commitment, which the state has not transformed into a legal norm, will not result ...