Intention, Expectation, and Promissory Obligation

Ethics 127 (1):88-115 (2016)
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Accepting a promise is normatively significant in that it helps to secure promissory obligation. But what is it for B to accept A’s promise to φ? It is in part for B to intend A’s φ-ing. Thinking of acceptance in this way allows us to appeal to the distinctive role of intentions in practical reasoning and action to better understand the agency exercised by the promisee. The proposal also accounts for rational constraints on acceptance, and the so-called directedness of promissory obligation. Finally, the proposal, conjoined with Cognitivism about intentions, addresses recent criticism of Scanlon’s expectation-based view of promissory obligation.
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