Philosophical Studies 165 (2):573-589 (2013)

Michael Ferry
Spring Hill College
It is widely accepted that morality does not demand that we do our very best, but our most significant moral traditions do not easily accommodate this intuition. I will argue that the underlying problem is not specific to any particular tradition. Rather, it will be difficult for any moral theory to account for binary moral concepts like permissible/impermissible while also accounting for scalar moral concepts like better/worse. If only the best is considered permissible, morality will seem either unreasonably demanding or implausibly minimal. But if we draw a line of duty below the optimal, then we must explain how the act that is worse is nonetheless permissible. Some have tried to explain this by appealing to non-moral considerations, and others have appealed to agent-relative moral considerations. I argue that no such approach will work. We should instead exploit the distinction between reasons for performing an act and reasons for holding someone accountable for an act’s performance. This approach will also help to clear up a confusion regarding the notion of a moral demand
Keywords Supererogation  Moral demands  Kant  Utilitarianism
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-012-9968-6
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References found in this work BETA

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
The Metaphysics of Morals.Immanuel Kant - 1797/1996 - Cambridge University Press.
Critique of Practical Reason.Immanuel Kant - 1788 - Hackett Publishing Company.

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Citations of this work BETA

Supererogation, Sacrifice, and the Limits of Duty.Alfred Archer - 2016 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 54 (3):333-354.
Aesthetic Supererogation.Alfred Archer & Lauren Ware - 2017 - Estetika 54 (1):102-116.
Supererogation.Alfred Archer - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (3).

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