- Copyright Page
- Relativized Rankings
- Fault Lines in Ethical Theory
- Actualism, Possibilism, and the Nature of Consequentialism
- Consequentialism, Blame, and Moral Responsibility
- Consequentialism and Reasons for Action
- What Should a Consequentialist Promote?
- Understanding the Demandingness Objection
- Consequentialism and Partiality
- Must I Benefit Myself?
- Supererogation and Consequentialism
- Consequentialism and Promises
- Consequentialism, Ignorance, and Uncertainty
- Consequentialism and Action Guidingness
- Consequentialism and Indeterminacy
- Value Comparability
- Consequentialism, the Separateness of Persons, and Aggregation
- The Alienation Objection to Consequentialism
- Global Consequentialism
- The Role(s) of Rules in Consequentialist Ethics
- Consequentialism, Virtue, and Character
- Population Ethics, the Mere Addition Paradox, and the Structure of Consequentialism
- Deontic Pluralism and the Right Amount of Good
- Conflicts and Cooperation in Act Consequentialism
- The Science of Effective Altruism
- Effective Altruism: A Consequentialist Case Study
- Consequentialism and Nonhuman Animals
- Public Policy, Consequentialism, the Environment, and Nonhuman Animals
- The Love–Hate Relationship between Feminism and Consequentialism
- Act Consequentialism and the No-Difference Challenge
Abstract and Keywords
I explore the debate about whether consequentialist theories can adequately accommodate the moral force of promissory obligation. I outline a straightforward act consequentialist account grounded in the value of satisfying expectations, and I raise and assess three objections to this account: that it counterintuitively predicts that certain promises should be broken when common-sense morality insists that they should be kept, that the account is circular, and Michael Cholbi’s argument that this account problematically implies that promise-making is frequently obligatory. I then discuss alternative act consequentialist accounts, including Philip Pettit’s suggestion that promise-keeping is an intrinsic good and Michael Smith’s agent-relative account. I outline Brad Hooker’s rule consequentialist account of promissory obligation and raise a challenge for it. I conclude that appeals to intuitions about cases will not settle the dispute, and that consequentialists and their critics must instead engage in substantive debate about the nature and stringency of promissory obligation.
Alida Liberman is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Southern Methodist University. Her main research interests are in theoretical and applied ethics, and she is particularly interested in how our attitudes and commitments affect what it makes sense for us to do. She has published papers about promises, vows, endorsements, and resolutions, as well as about a variety of topics in bioethics, and is currently working on a project about the ways in which it is wrong to make it harder for others to fulfill their obligations.
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