The Point of Promises

Ethics 132 (3):621-643 (2022)
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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.

Author Profiles

Philipp Schwind
University of Zürich
Stefan Riedener
University of Bergen


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