Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (1):23-39 (2011)

Elizabeth Brake
Rice University
Wedding vows seem to be promises. So they go: I promise to love, honour, and cherish .... But this poses a problem. Divorce is not widely seen as a serious moral wrong, but breaking a promise is. I first consider, and defend against preliminary objections, a ‘hard-line’ response: divorce is indeed prima facie impermissible promise-breaking. I next consider the ‘hardship’ response—the hardship of failed marriages overrides the prima facie duty to keep promises. However, this would release promisors in far too many cases. I resolve the triad by considering the content of the vows. Vows concerning love are not promises at all. We cannot promise to do acts the performance of which is outside our control, and love involves states of mind outside our control. Vows concerning spousal roles are complicated by diverse social understandings of marriage and the centrality of emotion to the roles
Keywords Marriage  Divorce  Promises  Ethics  Love
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DOI 10.1007/s10677-009-9217-z
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References found in this work BETA

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Love and Knowledge: Emotion in Feminist Epistemology.Alison M. Jaggar - 1989 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 32 (2):151 – 176.
Love's Knowledge.Martha C. Nussbaum - 1990 - Oxford University Press.
Expression and Meaning.John Searle - 1985 - Cambridge University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Love and Justice: A Paradox?Anca Gheaus - 2017 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (6):739-759.
Promising's Neglected Siblings: Oaths, Vows, and Promissory Obligation.Kyle Fruh - 2019 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 100 (3):858-880.
Divorce, Disorientation, and Remarriage.Christopher Cowley - 2020 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (3-4):531-544.
Divorce, Disorientation, and Remarriage.Christopher Cowley - 2020 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (3-4):531-544.
Divorce, Disorientation, and Remarriage.Christopher Cowley - 2020 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (3-4):531-544.

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