Two Kinds of Supererogation
Nick Küspert

part of: 26th Annual Oxford Graduate Philosophy Conference
November 12, 2022, 3:45pm - 4:45pm
Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford

Lecture Room
Faculty of Philosophy
Oxford OX2 6GG
United Kingdom

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities

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  • Aristotelian Society
  • Royal Institute of Philosophy
  • Analysis Trust
  • Faculty of Philosophy


Oxford University
Oxford University
University of Oxford
Oxford University

Topic areas



Supererogatory acts are commonly understood as acts that are morally good but not morally required. This understanding of supererogation classifies acts that seem very different—heroic acts on the one end and polite acts on the other—in the same category of moral evaluation. The common explanation for this phenomenon is that such acts differ only in degree, both with respect to their moral value as well as to the non moral value lost. I argue that this explanation is mistaken. Heroic acts and polite acts are not just different in degree, but in kind. The former are properly understood as supererogatory acts beyond duty while the latter are supererogatory acts outwith duty. Supererogation simpliciter is a myth we should do away with.

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