A promise is a declaration that an individual will do or refrain from doing something specified. The term also refers to a declaration that legally binds two individuals and which gives the person to whom the promise is made right to claim implementation of a particular act. When an individual fails to keep his or her word, it communicates that they do not value the person to whom the promise was made. It also shows the person who made the promise is unreliable. It also communicates to oneself they value less on their words. There are conditions that force one to weigh the consequences of breaking or keeping a promise
Is it ever morally permissible to break a promise?
Yes, it is morally acceptable to break a promise depending on the situation at hand.
Is it ever morally obligatory to break a promise?
Yes, it is morally obligatory to break a promise.
This is especially when the situation is morally unconducive to keep the promise. For example, a mature lady makes a promise to go out on a date with her partner. Unfortunately one day before the date, the lady’s grandfather becomes ill and is admitted to the hospital. Even though the lady has the option to go on a date and not visit the grandfather, it is morally repugnant to the lady. The lady may not have any fun during the date because of guilt. So to maintain a state of sanity, it is morally obligatory to break the promise and instead listen to her conscious and do the right thing which is to visit the grandfather at the hospital.
In the above example, the grandfather’s situation overrides the promise in importance and therefore breaking the promise becomes more preferable to the extent that it can be morally obligatory.
Promises are contracts, and breaking them is similar to defaulting on a deal. Breaking promises for unjustified reasons is unethical, and it has severe consequences. Conversely, when a situation occurs, it is acceptable, and in many instances, morally obligatory to break a promise.
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