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Oxford Seminars in Jurisprudence: Crescente Molina

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Crescente Molina, 'Promises and Commitments'

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ABSTRACT. When we promise, we voluntarily impose an obligation on ourselves. What is more, we grant others exclusive control over such obligation. Thus far, authors have assumed that these facts about promising must be true for all the cases in which we assume obligations towards others at will: (i) the voluntary imposition of obligations on ourselves must entail (ii) granting the obligee exclusive deontic control over the obligatory matter. Yet this is not true. We can do (i) without (ii). This happens when we create what I call commitments. This essay develops the notion of a commitment. I contend that commitments shape the structure of important moral phenomena such as some of our loyalty obligations, and that they shed light on the justification and scope of contract law. Furthermore, I argue that the existence of commitments invites us to rethink the way we understand the structure of moral obligations.

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