promise

Giving one's word that one will do something creates a reason for action in the future. But when the time comes, by keeping the promise one seems to act because one has done something in the past, rather than for the sake of promoting some goal in the future. Promising therefore excites philosophical theory in two ways. There is first the question of the obligation to obey a promise: how can this exist, given its backwards-looking nature, and what are its stringency and limits? Secondly, there is a peculiarity about the origin of promise-making, in that it can easily seem that in a society with no such institution, it would never arise. This would be because it is essential to promising that at a later date you may have to turn aside from your own interests in order to keep the promise, and an individual who does this is relatively disadvantaged compared to one who does not. The problem is seen clearly by Hobbes . It is dramatized in the situation of the prisoners' dilemma, where making a promise to the other prisoner that you will not cheat would seem to be an empty charade, for no words alter the penalties and rewards. The social solution is that by institutionalizing promising, co-operative strategies can develop that further the common good, in spite of their potential for conflict with individual interest. See also convention, social contract.

Philosophy dictionary. . 2011.

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  • promise — prom·ise n: a declaration or manifestation esp. in a contract of an intention to act or refrain from acting in a specified way that gives the party to whom it is made a right to expect its fulfillment aleatory promise: a promise (as to compensate …   Law dictionary

  • Promise — Prom ise, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Promised}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Promising}.] [1913 Webster] 1. To engage to do, give, make, or to refrain from doing, giving, or making, or the like; to covenant; to engage; as, to promise a visit; to promise a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Promise — Prom ise, a. [F. promesse, L. promissum, fr. promittere, promissum, to put forth, foretell, promise; pro forward, for + mittere to send. See {Mission}. ] [1913 Webster] 1. In general, a declaration, written or verbal, made by one person to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • promise — vb Promise, engage, pledge, plight, covenant, contract are comparable when they mean to give one s word that one will act in a specified way (as by doing, making, giving, or accepting) in respect to something stipulated. Promise implies a giving… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • promise — [n1] one’s word that something will be done affiance, affirmation, agreement, asseveration, assurance, avowal, betrothal, bond, commitment, compact, consent, contract, covenant, earnest, engagement, espousal, guarantee, insurance, marriage, oath …   New thesaurus

  • promise — ► NOUN 1) an assurance that one will do something or that something will happen. 2) potential excellence. ► VERB 1) make a promise. 2) give good grounds for expecting. 3) (promise oneself) firmly intend …   English terms dictionary

  • promise — [präm′is] n. [ME promis < L promissum < promittere, to send before or forward < pro , forth + mittere, to send: see PRO 2 & MISSION] 1. an oral or written agreement to do or not to do something; vow 2. indication, as of a successful… …   English World dictionary

  • Promise — Prom ise, v. i. [1913 Webster] 1. To give assurance by a promise, or binding declaration. [1913 Webster] 2. To afford hopes or expectation; to give ground to expect good; rarely, to give reason to expect evil. [1913 Webster] Will not the ladies… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Promise — steht für: ein Album der englischen Gruppe Sade, siehe Promise (Album) ein Album des US Amerikaners Bruce Springsteen, siehe The Promise einen Fachbegriff aus der Informatik, siehe Future (Programmierung) Diese Seite ist …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • promise — (n.) c.1400, from L. promissum a promise, noun use of neuter pp. of promittere send forth, foretell, promise, from pro before (see PRO (Cf. pro )) + mittere to put, send (see MISSION (Cf. mission)). Ground sense is declaration made about the… …   Etymology dictionary

  • promise — prom|ise1 W2S2 [ˈprɔmıs US ˈpra: ] v 1.) [I and T] to tell someone that you will definitely do or provide something or that something will happen ▪ Last night the headmaster promised a full investigation. promise to do sth ▪ She s promised to do… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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