Virtue theory, ideal observers, and the supererogatory

Philosophical Studies 146 (2):179-96 (2009)
I argue that recent virtue theories (including those of Hursthouse, Slote, and Swanton) face important initial difficulties in accommodating the supererogatory. In particular, I consider several potential characterizations of the supererogatory modeled upon these familiar virtue theories (and their accounts of rightness) and argue that they fail to provide an adequate account of supererogation. In the second half of the paper I sketch an alternative virtue-based characterization of supererogation, one that is grounded in the attitudes of virtuous ideal observers, and that avoids the concerns raised in the first part of the paper.
Keywords virtue ethics  virtue theory  virtue  ideal observer  Hursthouse  supererogation  supererogatory  ideals  right action
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DOI 10.2307/27734511
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Bernard Williams (1992). Shame and Necessity. University of California Press.

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