Promises and Trust

In Hanoch Sheinman (ed.), Promises and Agreements: Philosophical Essays. Oxford University Press (2011)
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In this article we develop and defend what we call the “Trust View” of promissory obligation, according to which making a promise involves inviting another individual to trust one to do something. In inviting her trust, and having the invitation accepted (or at least not rejected), one incurs an obligation to her not to betray the trust that one has invited. The distinctive wrong involved in breaking a promise is a matter of violating this obligation. We begin by explicating the core notion of “inviting someone to trust one to do something”, suggesting that it involves signaling to the other individual one's recognition of the importance the relevant action has for her, and one’s willingness to license her to have faith or optimism in one's character with regard to the performance of that action. We then turn to a defense of the Trust View, arguing that it has considerable appeal in its own right, that it is distinct from and superior to three similar accounts (T.M. Scanlon's Assurance View, Judith Jarvis Thomson's Reliance View and David Owens' Authority View), and that several objections to it can be answered.
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Archival date: 2011-05-06
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