David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
This paper begins with the idea that we can learn a good deal about promising by examining the conditions and norms that govern promise- breaking. Sometimes promises are broken as a deliberate plan, other times they are broken because they are simply incompatible with other, more signifi cant moral norms, or because it becomes clear that they are impossible to keep. There are cases where people make promises that are actually incompatible with each other. Politicians, for example, often give such incompatible promises, either intentionally, or by making too many commitments, some of which turn out to be incompatible. In making such promises, agents guarantee that at least one promise be broken. Is the agent who makes incompatible promises under any obli- gation? If ‘ought’ implies ‘can,’ and promises entail obligations, then it seems that one cannot, in fact, make promises one cannot keep. This paper explores the problem by drawing analogies between incompatible promises and other promises that cannot be kept. It suggests that we can deny ‘ought’ implies ‘can’ strictly speaking, but recognize that there is a practical limit on what the agent can be called on to do. On this view, even promises to do the impossible commit the agent. Similarly, politi- cians who promise too much are still obligated to do as promised
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
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
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Peter Vallentyne (2006). “Natural Rights and Two Conceptions of Promising”. Chicago-Kent Law Review 81 (9):9-19.
Hanoch Sheinman (2008). Promise as Practice Reason. Acta Analytica 23 (4):287-318.
Niko Kolodny & R. Jay Wallace (2003). Promises and Practices Revisited. Philosophy and Public Affairs 31 (2):119–154.
David Owens (2006). A Simple Theory of Promising. Philosophical Review 115 (1):51-77.
P. S. Atiyah (1981/1982). Promises, Morals, and Law. Clarendon Press.
Kent Bach (1995). Terms of Agreement. Ethics 105 (3):604-612.
Rachel Cohon (2006). Hume on Promises and the Peculiar Act of the Mind. Journal of the History of Philosophy 44 (1):25-45.
Elizabeth Brake (2011). Is Divorce Promise-Breaking? Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (1):23-39.
Dennis M. Patterson (1992). The Value of a Promise. Law and Philosophy 11 (4):385 - 402.
Alfred Mele (2004). Can Libertarians Make Promises? In John Hyman & Helen Steward (eds.), Agency and Action. Cambridge University Press. 217-241.
Elinor Mason (2005). We Make No Promises. Philosophical Studies 123 (1-2):33 - 46.
Thomas L. Carson (2005). Ross and Utilitarianism on Promise Keeping and Lying: Self‐Evidence and the Data of Ethics. Philosophical Issues 15 (1):140–157.
Added to index2011-01-21
Total downloads86 ( #14,592 of 1,101,740 )
Recent downloads (6 months)7 ( #35,000 of 1,101,740 )
How can I increase my downloads?