Philosophical Review 117 (4):481-524 (2008)

Authors
Seana Shiffrin
University of California, Los Angeles
Abstract
The power to promise is morally fundamental and does not, at its foundation, derive from moral principles that govern our use of conventions. Of course, many features of promising have conventional components—including which words, gestures, or conditions of silence create commitments. What is really at issue between conventionalists and nonconventionalists is whether the basic moral relation of promissory commitment derives from the moral principles that govern our use of social conventions. Other nonconventionalist accounts make problematic concessions to the conventionalist's core instincts, including embracing: the view that binding promises must involve the promisee's belief that performance will occur; the view that through the promise, the promisee and promisor create a shared end; and the tendency to take promises between strangers, rather than intimates, as the prototypes to which a satisfactory account must answer. I argue against these positions and then pursue an account that finds its motivation in their rejection. My main claim is: the power to make promises, and other related forms of commitment, is an integral part of the ability to engage in special relationships in a morally good way. The argument proceeds by examining what would be missing, morally, from intimate relationships if we lacked this power.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s)
DOI 10.1215/00318108-2008-014
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,436
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):323-354.
A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 1958 - Philosophical Quarterly 8 (33):379-380.
Are There Any Natural Rights?H. L. A. Hart - 1955 - Philosophical Review 64 (2):175-191.

View all 13 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Do We Have Normative Powers?Ruth Chang - 2020 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 94 (1):275-300.
What Is Conventionalism About Moral Rights and Duties?Katharina Nieswandt - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (1):15-28.

View all 42 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Analytics

Added to PP index
2014-03-12

Total views
23 ( #495,433 of 2,519,857 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #270,671 of 2,519,857 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes