Vuko Andrić: The Paradox of Supererogation Cannot Be Resolved

The aim of the lecture is to show that the paradox of supererogation cannot be resolved. Supererogatory acts go beyond the call of duty in that they are better than mere fulfilments of moral duties. The paradox of supererogation is based on the idea that it cannot be permissible to perform an act that is inferior to an alternative option: how can mere duty fulfilments be right, given that it would be better to perform a supererogatory act? After providing a deeper explanation of the paradoxical nature of supererogation, I distinguish between two general accounts of supererogation: according to the Competitive Account, something prevents reasons that favour supererogatory acts over mere duty fulfilments from providing obligations; according to the Non-Competitive Account, in contrast, the reasons that favour supererogatory acts over mere duty fulfilments are such that they cannot turn into obligations in the first place. Given some plausible normative and metaethical assumptions, neither account can resolve the paradox of supererogation. Since there is no plausible theory of supererogation that is not a species of either the Competitive or the Non-Competitive Account, I submit, the paradox cannot be resolved.

​Vuko Andrić is currently working as a Research Associate at Mannheim University on the challenges future generations pose to democratic theory. He completed his doctoral degree with a dissertation on act-consequentialism at Saarland University and previously studied at the Universities of Göttingen, Bielefeld, Berlin (Free University), and Oxford. His publications include “Objective Consequentialism and the Licensing Dilemma” (Philosophical Studies), “The Case of the Miners” (Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy), “Can Groups be Autonomous Rational Agents? A Challenge to the List-Pettit Theory”, in: A. Konzelmann-Ziv & H. B. Schmid (eds.), Institutions, Emotions, and Group Agents – Contributions to Social Ontology, Springer 2014), and “Norbert Hoersters Theorie der Normenvertretung” (Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung).