2009 Student Research Conference:
22nd Annual Student Research Conference

Fulfillment of Duty and Perspectival Supererogation
Christopher G. Dove
Dr. Matthew Pianalto, Faculty Mentor

J.O. Urmson defined a separate category of actions that are not dutifully required, but nevertheless go above and beyond the call of duty. These actions, later described as supererogatory, might range from simple courtesies like helping a stranger to feats necessitating major commitment and sacrifice. Although conclusions have varied widely, many thinkers have struggled to reconcile supererogation with Kantian ethics. In this paper, I revise two fundamental concepts in deontological ethics to give an accurate accord of supererogation. First, I amend the meaning of duty fulfillment to incorporate a more realistic model whereby individuals, while recognizing a set of shared duties, subjectively prioritize and fulfill those duties to varying degrees of satisfaction. Second, I argue that a supererogatory action can be best defined perspectivally by individuals personally disinterested in the specific actor, but with a keen understanding of conventional duties and the circumstances that the action was performed in.

Keywords: duty, supererogatory, ethics, Kant, deontology

Topic(s):Philosophy & Religion

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 60-2
Location: OP 2121
Time: 2:45

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