The Rationally Supererogatory

Mind: A Quarterly Journal of Philosophy

Author/s (editor/s):

Claire Benn, Adam Bales

Publication year:


Publication type:

Journal article

Find this publication at:
Oxford University Press

Claire Benn and Adam Bales, ‘The Rationally Supererogatory’, Mind: A Quarterly Journal of Philosophy, 3 October 2019, online: 1-22.

The notion of supererogation—going above and beyond the call of duty—is typically discussed in a moral context. However, in this article we argue for the existence of rationally supererogatory actions: that is, actions that go above and beyond the call of rational duty. In order to establish the existence of such actions, we first need to overcome the so-called paradox of supererogation: we need to provide some explanation for why, if some act is rationally optimal, it is not the case that we are rationally required to carry out that act. We argue that a response to this ‘paradox’ can be found by reflecting on normative conflicts: cases where what is best according to some normative domain is different from what is best according to some other normative domain.

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