Loyalty (from French: legal “according to the law”) refers (as opposed to loyalty, submission or obedience) to shared moral principles based on and thus guided by rational interest of inner solidarity and its expression in the behavior towards a person, group, or community. The concept of loyalty implies the interest of a higher common goal, the values (and ideology) shared with others and their representation even if it is not shared completely, as long as it serves the interest of the shared higher goal. Loyalty is represented by one’s attitude to the person to whom one is loyal.
The extent of the required loyalty depends on the expectations that are constitutive for the particular relationship. These relationships can be of informal (e.g., friends) or formal nature (e.g., marriage). You can be born into it (for example, relatives) or they can be chosen (for example, immigration). The loyalty expectations extend to external actions, but also – as in the case of friendships – to internal settings. It is disputed whether loyalties are genuine obligations.
The main problem of loyalty is caused by by the difference in expectation. Different loyalty requirements lead to conflicts, for example, when an employee is to be loyal to the employer, even though he does not share certain values or goals. Especially often, such conflicts are found in social organizations with hierarchy (church, state, army). Severe is the example for insubordination in the army declared by a conscientious objector. Even the matters of environmental protection, reliability, balance sheet, personnel and similar sensitive issues, where loyalty is always required and end as often in fraud.
In such structures as family or clans, the conception of loyalty is used by family members. This often leads to conflicts of conscience and to suppression of own values and goals. In such cases, it is loyalty to oneself that is questioned.
These contradictory bonds lead to conflicts between inner commitment and loyalty. For example, when a child is connected by his love for both his father and his mother, is involved in the dispute about their values and goals (triangulation) or when an employee has jobs in various companies, which compete with each other.
The difference between solidarity and loyalty is more of an internal self-commitment, solidarity is rather an inner need. When loyalty rather describes the inner attitude, solidarity has rather the outward expression. The transitions are fluid.
In business, loyalty is often confused with “dependence” and “respect for authority” (adherence to agreements, keeping law or loyalty to an authority). Synonyms for this type loyalty are: decency, fairness, lawfulness, righteousness, honesty, loyalty to government, state loyalty, fidelity, reliability.
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