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Vol 21 No 9 Sept/Oct 2016

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Goode on Commercial Law

Edited by: Ewan McKendrick
Price: £170.00

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Shaping the Normative Landscape

ISBN13: 9780198708049
Published: July 2014
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Paperback (Hardback in 2012)
Price: £17.99
Hardback edition , ISBN13 9780199691500

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Shaping the Normative Landscape is an investigation of the value of obligations and of rights, of forgiveness, of consent and refusal, of promise and request. David Owens shows that these are all instruments by which we exercise control over our normative environment.

Philosophers from Hume to Scanlon have supposed that when we make promises and give our consent, our real interest is in controlling (or being able to anticipate) what people will actually do and that our interest in rights and obligations is a by-product of this more fundamental interest. In fact, we value for its own sake the ability to decide who is obliged to do what, to determine when blame is appropriate, to settle whether an act wrongs us.

Owens explores how we control the rights and obligations of ourselves and of those around us. We do so by making friends and thereby creating the rights and obligations of friendship. We do so by making promises and so binding ourselves to perform. We do so by consenting to medical treatment and thereby giving the doctor the right to go ahead.

The normative character of our world matters to us on its own account. To make sense of promise, consent, friendship and other related phenomena we must acknowledge that normative interests are amongst our fundamental interests. We must also rethink the psychology of agency and the nature of social convention.


1. Blame and Guilt
2. Wronging
3. Obligation
4. Obligation and Involvement

5. The Problem with Promising
6. The Promissory Interest
7. The Possibility of Consent

8. What is a Promise?
9. The Promissory Bond
10. Which Promises Bind?