A simple theory of promising

Philosophical Review 115 (1):51-77 (2006)
Why do human beings make and accept promises? What human interest is served by this procedure? Many hold that promising serves what I shall call an information interest, an interest in information about what will happen. And they hold that human beings ought to keep their promises because breaches of promise threaten this interest. On this view human beings take promises seriously because we want correct information about how other human beings are going to act. Some such view is taken for granted by most philosophical accounts of promissory obligation.1 I agree that human beings do want such information and that they often get it by accepting promises. But I doubt that promising exists because it serves this information interest.
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DOI 10.1215/00318108-115-1-51
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Nicholas Southwood & Lina Eriksson (2011). Norms and Conventions. Philosophical Explorations 14 (2):195 - 217.
David Owens (2006). Testimony and Assertion. Philosophical Studies 130 (1):105 - 129.

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