Promising's Neglected Siblings: Oaths, Vows, and Promissory Obligation

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 100 (3):858-880 (2019)
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Abstract

Promises of a customary, interpersonal kind have received no small amount of philosophical attention. Of particular interest has been their capac- ity to generate moral obligations. This capacity is arguably what distinguishes promises from other, similar phenomena, like communicating a firm intention. But this capacity is common to still other nearby phenomena, such as oaths and vows. These latter phenomena belong to the same family of concepts as promises, but they are structurally and functionally distinct. Taken in their turn, they fill out what I call the ‘breadth criterion’: Theories of promising should cover not only customary, interpersonal promises but also sibling phe- nomena, including oaths and vows. Accommodating the breadth criterion is not something all theories of promising are positioned to accomplish. I focus on the challenge that the breadth criterion poses for Scanlon’s influential ex- pectation view of promising and suggest a normative powers account will fare better.

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Kyle Fruh
Duke Kunshan University

Citations of this work

Promises.Allen Habib - 2009 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Conventionalism and contingency in promissory powers.Andrew Lichter - 2023 - Philosophical Studies 180 (5-6):1769-1792.
Promises, Offers, Requests, Agreements.Brendan de Kenessey - 2022 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 9.
Promises and all of the people who rely on them.Nick Leonard - 2021 - Journal of Social Philosophy 54 (1):114-129.
The social ontology of promising.Steven Norris - 2021 - Ratio 34 (4):324-333.

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References found in this work

What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Philosophy 63 (243):119-122.
Specifying norms as a way to resolve concrete ethical problems.Henry S. Richardson - 1990 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 19 (4):279-310.

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