Supererogation and Intentions of the Agent

Philosophia 41 (2):447-462 (2013)
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Abstract

It has been claimed, by David Heyd, that in order for an act to count as supererogatory the agent performing the act must possess altruistic intentions (1982 p.115). This requirement, Heyd claims, allows us to make sense of the meritorious nature of acts of supererogation. In this paper I will investigate whether there is good reason to accept that this requirement is a necessary condition of supererogation. I will argue that such a reason can be found in cases where two people act in the same way but with only the person who acted with altruistic intent counting as having performed an act of supererogation. In such cases Heyd’s intention requirement plays an important role in ruling out acts that intuitively are not supererogatory. Despite this, I will argue that we should reject Heyd’s requirement and replace it with a moral intention requirement. I will then investigate how to formulate this requirement and respond to two objections that might be raised against it

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Alfred Archer
Tilburg University

Citations of this work

Supererogation, Sacrifice, and the Limits of Duty.Alfred Archer - 2016 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 54 (3):333-354.
Supererogation, optionality and cost.Claire Benn - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (10):2399-2417.
Supererogation.Alfred Archer - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (3):e12476.

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References found in this work

What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Groundwork for the metaphysics of morals.Immanuel Kant - 1785 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Thomas E. Hill & Arnulf Zweig.
Intention.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1957 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
Utilitarianism.J. S. Mill - 1861 - Oxford University Press UK. Edited by Roger Crisp.

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