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Philosophical Foundations of Contract Law$
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Gregory Klass, George Letsas, and Prince Saprai

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198713012

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198713012.001.0001

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Is There a Reason to Keep a Promise?

Is There a Reason to Keep a Promise?

(p.58) 4 Is There a Reason to Keep a Promise?
Philosophical Foundations of Contract Law

Joseph Raz

Oxford University Press

If promises are binding there must be a reason to do as one promised. The chapter is motivated by belief that there is a difficulty in explaining what that reason is. It arises because the reasons that promising creates are content independent. Similar difficulties arise regarding other content-independent reasons, though their solution need not be the same. Section I introduces an approach to promises, forming the backdrop for the ensuing discussion. The problems discussed in the chapter arise, albeit in slightly modified ways, for various other accounts as well. It is, however, helpful to use a specific account as a springboard leading to one explanation of promissory reasons, namely of the reasons that valid promises constitute for performing the promised act (Section II). We can call it the bare reasons account. Sections III and IV will raise difficulties with that account, leading to its abandonment in favour of an alternative in Sections V and VI.

Keywords:   promise, content-independent reasons, David Owens, normative powers, promissory reasons, weight of reasons

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