•  497
    Supererogatory Spandrels
    Etica and Politica / Ethics and Politics 19 (1): 269-290. 2017.
    Standing in San Marco Cathedral in Venice, you immediately notice the exquisitely decorated spandrels: the triangular spaces bounded on either side by adjoining arches and by the dome above. You would be forgiven for seeing them as the starting point from which to understand the surrounding architecture. To do so would, however, be a mistake. It is a similar mistaken inference that evolutionary biologists have been accused of making in assuming a special adaptive purpose for such biological feat…Read more
  •  176
    Supererogation, optionality and cost
    Philosophical Studies 175 (10): 2399-2417. 2018.
    A familiar part of debates about supererogatory actions concerns the role that cost should play. Two camps have emerged: one claiming that extreme cost is a necessary condition for when an action is supererogatory, while the other denies that it should be part of our definition of supererogation. In this paper, I propose an alternative position. I argue that it is comparative cost that is central to the supererogatory and that it is needed to explain a feature that all accounts agree is central …Read more
  •  130
    Intentions, Motives and Supererogation
    Journal of Value Inquiry 53 (1): 107-123. 2019.
    Amy saves a man from drowning despite the risk to herself, because she is moved by his plight. This is a quintessentially supererogatory act: an act that goes above and beyond the call of duty. Beth, on the other hand, saves a man from drowning because she wants to get her name in the paper. On this second example, opinions differ. One view of supererogation holds that, despite being optional and good, Beth’s act is not supererogatory because she is not praiseworthy; the other agrees that Beth i…Read more
  •  105
    Moral theories that demand that we do what is morally best leave no room for the supererogatory. One argument against such theories is that they fail to realize the value of autonomy: supererogatory acts allow for the exercise of autonomy because their omissions are not accompanied by any threats of sanctions, unlike obligatory ones. While this argument fails, I use the distinction it draws – between omissions of obligatory and supererogatory acts in terms of appropriate sanctions – to draw a pa…Read more
  •  91
    What is Wrong with Promising to Supererogate
    Philosophia 42 (1): 55-61. 2014.
    There has been some debate as to whether or not it is possible to keep a promise, and thus fulfil a duty, to supererogate. In this paper, I argue, in agreement with Jason Kawall, that such promises cannot be kept. However, I disagree with Kawall’s diagnosis of the problem and provide an alternative account. In the first section, I examine the debate between Kawall and David Heyd, who rejects Kawall’s claim that promises to supererogate cannot be kept. I disagree with Heyd’s argument, as it fails…Read more
  •  50
    The Rationally Supererogatory
    with Adam Bales
    Mind 129 (515): 917-938. 2020.
    The notion of supererogation—going above and beyond the call of duty—is typically discussed in a moral context. However, in this paper 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 …Read more
  •  19
    Supererogation and sequence
    with Adam Bales
    Synthese 1-18. forthcoming.
    Morally supererogatory acts are those that go above and beyond the call of duty. More specifically: they are acts that, on any individual occasion, are good to do and also both permissible to do and permissible to refrain from doing. We challenge the way in which discussions of supererogation typically consider our choices and actions in isolation. Instead we consider sequences of supererogatory acts and omissions and show that some such sequences are themselves problematic. This gives rise to t…Read more