<ethics> literally, "above the call of duty." A supererogatory act is one that is morally good and that goes beyond what is required by duty. Some ethical theories, such as certain versions of utilitarianism, that demand that we always do the act that yields the most good have no room for supererogatory acts. It is sometimes used negatively, to object that an ethical prescription is too demanding.
<philosophical terminology> above and beyond the call of duty. Although agents are not obliged by the dictates of ordinary morality to perform supererogatory acts - extraordinary feats of heroism or extreme deeds of self-sacrifice, for example - they may be commended for doing so. Normative theories that demand the performance of the best possible action in every circumstance render supererogation impossible by identifying the permissible with the obligatory. Recommended Reading: Gregory Mellema, Beyond the Call of Duty: Supererogation, Obligation, and Offence (SUNY, 1991).
[A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names]
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