Supererogation and Sequence

Adam Bales, Claire Benn

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Morally supererogatory acts are those that go above and beyond the call of duty. More specifically: they are acts that, on any individual occasion, are good to do and also both permissible to do and permissible to refrain from doing. We challenge the way in which discussions of supererogation typically consider our choices and actions in isolation. Instead we consider sequences of supererogatory acts and omissions and show that some such sequences are themselves problematic. This gives rise to the following puzzle: what problem can we have with a sequences of actions if each individual act or omission is itself permissible? In this paper, we develop a response to this question, by exploring whether solutions analogous to those proposed in the rational choice literature are available in the case of supererogatory sequences. Our investigation leads us to the view that making sense of the supererogatory requires accepting that there are global moral norms that apply to sequences of acts alongside the local moral norms that apply to individual acts.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)7763-7780
    JournalSynthese
    Volume198
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2021

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