Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 1079–1090 | Cite as

Expectations and Obligations

  • Matej CibikEmail author


Ever since the publication of Scanlon’s Promises and Practices and What We Owe to Each Other, expectations have become an important topic within discussions on promises. However, confining the role of expectations to promises does not do justice to their importance in creating obligations more generally. This paper argues that expectations are one of the major sources of obligations created within our personal relationships. What we owe to our friends, partners, or siblings very often follows neither from the duties associated with the given role, nor from our explicit promises, commitments, declarations, or consents. The obligations that our close relationships create often arise from a shared understanding of those relationships—and subsequent mutually acknowledged expectations.


Expectations Obligations Promises Scanlon 



I would like to thank the audiences at British Society for Ethical Thought Annual Conference and “Situating the Human” workshop, as well as all my colleagues from University of Pardubice for many stimulating comments on earlier drafts of this paper. Special thanks goes to Marina Barabas, who made me re-think the framing of the main argument.

This publication was supported within the project of Operational Programme Research, Development and Education (OP VVV/OP RDE), “Centre for Ethics as Study in Human Value”, registration No. CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/15_003/0000425, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the state budget of the Czech Republic.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for EthicsUniversity of PardubicePardubiceCzech Republic

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