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Shaping the Normative Landscape$
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David Owens

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199691500

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199691500.001.0001

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The Promissory Bond

The Promissory Bond

(p.208) 9 The Promissory Bond
Shaping the Normative Landscape

David Owens

Oxford University Press

According to Scanlon's expectation theory, one makes a promise by communicating the intention to perform and the promise binds when it makes the promisee believe that you will perform. The expectation theory cannot account for the difference between promises and other speech acts (like prediction) that influence the expectations of others. It also finds it hard to explain why a promisee must have the power to release the promisor from their promise. The authority interest theory does a better job of explaining both the power of release and also the need for acceptance of the promise by the promisee. Finally, promises can be more or less solemn (as requests can be more or less urgent) and this dimension of solemnity depends on the promisor's intentions rather than on the strength of the expectations induced in the promisee.

Keywords:   T. M. Scanlon, authority interest, expectation theory, prediction, release, acceptance, request, solemnity

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