Denying the Suberogatory

Philosophia 40 (2):395-402 (2012)
Julia Driver has argued that there is a special set of actions, lodged between neutral actions and wrongful actions called suberogatory actions. These actions are not impermissible, according to Driver, but still strike us as troubling or bad, and are therefore worse than morally neutral (1992). Since this paper was written 20 years ago, many philosophers have utilized or alluded to this moral territory. The existence of some action-types that are not wrong but still carry some dis-value has become a staple in the realm of moral evaluation. However, Driver's argument for the existence of this moral territory amounts to three types of moral cases that, according to Driver, can only be explained by the existence of the suberogatory. In this short paper, I will respond by saying that we can account for these cases using our traditional notions of moral neutrality and moral wrongness. The temptation of invoking the suberogatory is that it can be used as a substitute for answering a variety of hard ethical questions. However appealing this substitute may be, we should resist it so long as the problem cases put forward to motivate the new evaluative realm can be handled, and handled well, by our traditional apparatus.
Keywords Suberogatory  Supererogatory  Obligation  Moral evaluation  Gratitude  Abortion
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DOI 10.1007/s11406-011-9343-4
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References found in this work BETA
Peter Singer (1972). Famine, Affluence, and Morality. Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):229-243.
Judith Jarvis Thomson (1971). A Defense of Abortion. Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (1):47-66.
Alan Wertheimer (1996). Exploitation. Princeton University Press.
Leif Wenar (2005). The Nature of Rights. Philosophy Public Affairs 33 (3):223-252.

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