Supererogation and Consequentialism

In Douglas W. Portmore (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Consequentialism. New York, USA: Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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The thought that acts of supererogation exist presents a challenge to all normative ethical theories. This chapter will provide an overview of the consequentialist responses to this challenge. I will begin by explaining the problem that supererogation presents for consequentialism. I will then explore consequentialist attempts to deny the existence of acts of supererogation. Next, I will examine a range of act consequentialist attempts to accommodate supererogation: including satisficing consequentialism, dual-ranking act consequentialism and an anti-rationalist form of consequentialism. Finally, I will explore how indirect consequentialists have responded to this problem. Throughout the chapter, I will argue that in responding to the challenge of supererogation, consequentialists must choose between a more theoretically satisfying version of consequentialism and a form of consequentialism that is better able to accommodate our everyday moral intuitions and concepts.
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