This chapter focuses on commitment, defined as an enduring normative determination made in the past to govern the future. More specifically, it examines why one adheres to past normative determinations when present preferences have changed or when present all-things-considered judgment is now to the contrary. It explains the reason-giving and obligation-creating force of commitments and considers one strand of contemporary moral philosophy that credits commitments with a decisive normative force different from that of will-based obligations. It looks at democratic self-government and written constitutionalism in the context of commitment and discusses distinct “modes of deliberative agency.” In addition, the chapter illustrates the importance of self-givenness in commitmentarian freedom by analyzing the work of Michael Sandel, whose views about unwilled commitments are part of his critique of liberalism.
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