Philosophia 42 (1):55-61 (2014)

Authors
Claire Benn
Australian National University
Abstract
There has been some debate as to whether or not it is possible to keep a promise, and thus fulfil a duty, to supererogate. In this paper, I argue, in agreement with Jason Kawall, that such promises cannot be kept. However, I disagree with Kawall’s diagnosis of the problem and provide an alternative account. In the first section, I examine the debate between Kawall and David Heyd, who rejects Kawall’s claim that promises to supererogate cannot be kept. I disagree with Heyd’s argument, as it fails to get to the heart of the problem Kawall articulates. Kawall’s argument however fails to make clear the problem with promising to supererogate because his discussion relies on the plausibility of the following claim: that supererogatory actions cannot also fulfil obligations. I argue that this view is mistaken because there are clear examples of supererogatory actions that also fulfil obligations. In the final section, I give my alternative account of the problem, identifying exactly what is wrong with fulfilling a duty, and thus keeping a promise, to supererogate. My diagnosis emphasises the importance of identifying non-supererogatory actions when it comes to understanding the way in which supererogatory actions go above and beyond the call of duty
Keywords Heyd, D.  Kawall, J.  Obligations  Oversubscription  Promises  Supererogation
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DOI 10.1007/s11406-013-9480-z
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References found in this work BETA

Supererogation: Its Status in Ethical Theory.David Heyd - 1982 - Cambridge University Press.
Supererogation and Rules.Joel Feinberg - 1960 - Ethics 71 (4):276-288.
Promising and Supererogation.Jason Kawall - 2005 - Philosophia 32 (1-4):389-398.
Supererogation and the Fulfillment of Duty.Gregory Mellema - 1991 - Journal of Value Inquiry 25 (2):167-175.

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Citations of this work BETA

Supererogation.Alfred Archer - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (3).
Can Virtue Ethics Account for Supererogation?David Heyd - 2015 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 77:25-47.
Divine Moral Goodness, Supererogation and The Euthyphro Dilemma.Alfred Archer - 2016 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 79 (2):147-160.

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