Introduction: Promises and Agreements

Hanoch Sheinman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscript

7 Scopus citations


Promises are routinely treated as a useful philosophical laboratory for testing moral, volitional, and social phenomena. Recently, they have also come to be treated as a philosophical topic in its own right. Promises are individual acts as well as social practices. To understand promises, then, is to understand individual acts of promising, practices of promising, and the relation between them. Philosophical accounts of promises are best regarded as packages of answers to several different questions (this chapter will mention twelve). Closely-indeed, conceptually-related to promises are agreements, so a philosophical account of promises should explain the relation between promises and agreements. Also closely-and conceptually-related to promises are contracts (and treaties). Arguably, contracts just are legally binding agreements or promises. If this is right, then understanding promises and agreements is a precondition on understanding contracts (and treaties). This chapter broaches some of the more interesting issues in the growing philosophical literature on promises. It closes with an overview of the collection.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPromises and Agreements
Subtitle of host publicationPhilosophical Essays
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199893836
ISBN (Print)9780195377958
StatePublished - 1 May 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press, 2014.


  • Agreement
  • Contract
  • Hume
  • Obligation
  • Practice
  • Pro tanto
  • Promise
  • Rawls
  • Value


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