Supererogation, inside and out: Toward an adequate scheme for common-sense morality<sup>1</sup>

Paul McNamara

in Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Volume 1

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199693269
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191732058 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies In Normative Ethics

Supererogation, inside and out: Toward an adequate scheme for common-sense morality1

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It is often assumed that 1) supererogation entails praiseworthiness, and 1) is even encoded in what has been called the “standard analysis” of supererogatory acts as acts that are optional and praiseworthy, but not blameworthy to omit. A pervasive presupposition is 2) the equivalence of action beyond the call of duty and supererogation. Meanwhile, it is often thought that (3) to omit an agent-favoring prerogative is supererogatory (a supererogatory omission). The paper sketches a simple conceptual framework for an enriched array of moral concepts helps us see that (2)-(3) are false and not really reconcilable with the classical conception of supererogation, and that the standard analysis is itself false and not reconcilable with the classical conception either. Points of analogy and disanalogy for suberogation are briefly explored. The investigation reflects the general need to distinguish and integrate act-evaluative and agent-evaluative moral appraisal.

Keywords: supererogation; suberogation; options; minimum; praise; blame; agent-evaluative; act-evaluative; aretaic; deontic

Chapter.  11987 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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