Same - Moral Obligation

There are some cases to the effect that a mere moral obligation is sufficient consideration to support a promise,14 but it is now well settled to the contrary.15 A man may believe himself to be under a moral obligation, either because he has received actual benefits in the past, or from motives of piety, delicacy, or friendship. Now, a past consideration, as will be seen,16 is in truth no consideration at all, for the promisor does not receive a benefit, nor the promisee suffer a detriment, in return for the promise. There are certain exceptions to this statement, which will be noticed in treating of past consideration, but it will be seen that the validity of the promise in those cases does not properly rest on the basis of moral obligation, though some courts put it upon that ground. The insufficiency of past benefits to support a promise on the ground of moral obligation was settled in England in a case in which it was said: "The doctrine would annihilate the necessity for any consideration at all, inasmuch as the mere fact of giving a promise creates a moral obligation to perform it." 17

12 Post, p. 444. 13 Post, pp. 442-452.

14 Hawkes v. Saunders, Cowp. 289; Lee v. Muggeridge, 5 Taunt. 36; Clark v. Herring, 5 Binn. (Pa.) 35; Glass v. Beach, 5 Vt. 173; State v. Reigart, 1 Gill (McL) 1, 39 Am. Dec. 628; Drury v. Briscoe, 42 Md. 1G2; Musser v. Ferguson Tp., 55 Pa. 475; In re Sutch's Estate, 201 Pa. 305, 50 Atl. 943. And see Brown v. Latham, 92 Ga. 2S0, 18 S. E. 421; Lawrence v. Oglesby, 178 111. 122, 52 N. E. 945. See post, p. 175. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 16; Cent. Dig. §§ 857-881.

15 Eastwood v. Kenyon, 11 Adol. & E. 438; Mills v. Wyrnan, 3 Pick. (Mass.) 207; Beaumont v. Reeve, 8 Q. B. 483; Ehle v. Judson, 24 Wend. (N. Y.) 97; Cook v. Bradley, 7 Conn. 57, 18 Am. Dec. 79; Valentine v. Foster, 1 Mete. (Mass.) 520, 35 Am. Dec. 377; Updike v. Titus, 13 N. J. Eq. 151; Faruham v. O'Brien, 22 Me. 475; Shepard v. Rhodes, 7 R. I. 470, 84 Am. Dec. 573; Gay v. Botts, 13 Bush (Ky.) 299; Cobb v. Cowdery, 40 Vt. 25, 94 Am. Dec. 370; Osier v. Hobbs, 33 Ark. 215; McElven v. Sloan, 56 Ga. 208; Trimble v. Rudy, 60 S. W. 650, 22 Ky. Law Rep. 1406, 53 L. R. A. 353, and note. A promise by a husband to his wife on her deathbed that their son should have certain property is not a valuable consideration for a conveyance from the father to the son. Peek v. Peek, 77 Cal. 106, 19 Pac. 227, 1 L. R. A. 185, 11 Am. St. Rep. 244. See post, p. 175, note 88. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 76; Cent. Dig. §§ 357-381.

16 Post, p. 170.

If the actual receipt of a benefit in the past does not constitute consideration for a subsequent promise, still less will such duties of honor, conscience, or friendship as a man may conceive to be incumbent on him. A man may be bound in honor to pay money lost in a wager, but, inasmuch as the law has declared wagers to be void, a promise to pay such a debt would be unenforceable for want of a consideration.18' In like manner, a pious wish on the part of executors to carry out the intentions of the testator is no consideration for promises made by them.19