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The Point of Promises


Riedener, Stefan; Schwind, Philipp (2022). The Point of Promises. Ethics, 132(3):621-643.

Abstract

The normative mechanics of promising seem complex. The strength and content of promissory obligations, and the residual duties they entail upon being violated, have various prima facie surprising features. We give an account to explain these features. Promises have a point. The point of a promise to φ is a promise-independent reason to φ for the promisee’s sake. A promise turns this reason into a duty. This explains the mechanics of promises. And it grounds a nuanced picture of immoral promises, an argument against promissory bare wrongings, and a constraint on theories of why we have promissory obligations at all.

Abstract

The normative mechanics of promising seem complex. The strength and content of promissory obligations, and the residual duties they entail upon being violated, have various prima facie surprising features. We give an account to explain these features. Promises have a point. The point of a promise to φ is a promise-independent reason to φ for the promisee’s sake. A promise turns this reason into a duty. This explains the mechanics of promises. And it grounds a nuanced picture of immoral promises, an argument against promissory bare wrongings, and a constraint on theories of why we have promissory obligations at all.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:01 Faculty of Theology and the Study of Religion > Center for Ethics
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Dewey Decimal Classification:100 Philosophy
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Philosophy
Uncontrolled Keywords:Philosophy
Language:English
Date:1 April 2022
Deposited On:26 Apr 2022 13:10
Last Modified:28 Mar 2024 02:36
Publisher:University of Chicago Press
ISSN:0014-1704
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1086/718080
Related URLs:https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/loi/et (Publisher)
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English