Immoral, Conflicting, and Redundant Promises

Seana Valentine Shiffrin

in Reasons and Recognition

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199753673
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918829 | DOI:
Immoral, Conflicting, and Redundant Promises

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Immoral, conflicting, and redundant promises raise important but neglected issues for any theory of promising. The paper investigates what resources expectation theories of promising, such as Scanlon’s, have to deal with these under-explored problem cases. It contrasts them with the resources available to rights-transfer theories of promising, offering a welcome occasion for the refinement and clearer articulation of rights-transfer theories. The paper acknowledges that these cases appear to pose special challenges for rights-transfer theories, but ones, I contend, that it can meet. Although at first blush, Scanlon’s theory seems to handle these cases more straightforwardly than rights-transfer theories, Scanlon’s theory may oversimplify what is, in fact, rugged moral terrain.

Keywords: promising; partiality; expectation theory; assurance; rights; rights-transfer theory; Scanlon; immoral promises; conflicting promises; redundant promises; autonomy; motives; deliberation

Chapter.  14206 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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