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This chapter concerns whether the best account of virtue will involve the idea that an agent can ‘go beyond’ duty in a morally praiseworthy way. The chapter begins by outlining Henry Sidgwick’s view that supererogation involves an immoral paradox, since it seems to allow a morally blameless agent to do less morally than she might. The conditions of supererogatory action are set out, and the origins of the idea in Christian doctrine are explained. An Aristotelian account of virtue, relating duty to ‘fittingness’, is set out, and claimed to be preferable to an account allowing for supererogation. The chapter closes with responses to Urmson’s arguments in favour of supererogation in his famous paper ‘Saints and Heroes’.


Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

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Book Chapter

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