In his classical article, ‘Saints and Heroes’, James Urmson single-handedly revived the idea of supererogation from it astonishingly long post-Reformation slumber. During the first two decades after its publication, Urmson's challenge was taken up almost exclusively by either utilitarians or deontologists of some sort. On the face of it, neither classical utilitarianism nor Kant's categorical imperative makes room for action which is better than the maximizing requirement, on the one hand, or beyond the requirement of duty, on the other. Nevertheless, both utilitarians and Kantians, as well as deontic logicians, offered more flexible and sophisticated versions of their respective theories which could accommodate supererogatory action. In my 1982 book on supererogation I tried to address the question whether virtue ethics could capture that new category of actions which are praiseworthy though not strictly required. But the focus of my discussion was mostly Aristotle and accordingly more interpretive in nature. However, that was just before the tremendous surge of interest in virtue ethics and the vast literature debating the merits of agent-based vs. action-based approaches in moral theory. It turned out that fitting supererogation into virtue-based moral theory proved to be a more difficult task than doing so in consequentialist and deontological theories. Some argued that supererogation could nevertheless be accounted for in aretaic terms; others held that it could not and that this fact attested to either a theoretical weakness – even if not a refutation – of virtue-based ethics, or to the incoherence of the concept of supererogation.
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DOI 10.1017/S1358246115000193
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References found in this work BETA

Virtue and Right.Robert N. Johnson - 2003 - Ethics 113 (4):810-834.
The Ethics of Requirement.Roderick M. Chisholm - 1964 - American Philosophical Quarterly 1 (2):147 - 153.
Virtue Theory, Ideal Observers, and the Supererogatory.Jason Kawall - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 146 (2):179-96.
Virtue Ethics and Right Action.R. Das - 2003 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (3):324 – 339.

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Citations of this work BETA

On Why There is a Problem of Supererogation.Nora Grigore - 2019 - Philosophia 47 (4):1141-1163.
Following the Wrong Example: The Exclusiveness of Heroism and Sanctity.Simone Grigoletto - 2018 - Etica and Politica / Ethics and Politics 10 (2):89-104.
Must We Be Perfect?: A Case Against Supererogation.Megan Fritts & Calum Miller - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 63.

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