Commentaries on 'Supererogation for Utilitarianism'

Abstract

Utilitarianism seems to imply that there cannot be any supererogatory acts, since no act can be above or beyond the call of utilitarian moral duty. Many argue, however, that there can be, indeed are, supererogatory acts, and so utilitarianism is wrong if it really implies that there cannot be any such acts. Vessel aim to respond to this challenge in two ways. First, he argues that even classical hedonistic utilitarianism doesn’t imply the impossibility of supererogation. Second, he discusses and – perhaps – supports some amendments to classical utilitarianism that provides further room for supererogatory actions within a utilitarian frame work. I’ll comment on those two responses to the objection from supererogation, but first I’d like to make some remarks on the relation between supererogation and utilitarianism in general

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Jean-Paul Vessel
New Mexico State University

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