Why proximity matters for the concept of supererogation
The concept of supererogation is strictly correlated with duty, since its peculiar value is defined by acts that go beyond our regular obligations. This paper highlights the importance of ‘proximity’ (relational closeness) in allowing the proper theoretical space to supererogation. As a matter of fact if we broaden our sense of duty, the possibility to perform supererogatory acts correspondingly decreases. ‘Special obligations’ emphasize how difficult acts of supererogation are to perform if we stand in some morally-relevant special position with the recipient of our acts. Thus, we can conclude that the relationship between the agent and the recipient of the act (‘proximity’) plays an important role both for our sense of duty (generating ‘special obligations’) and for the possibility of performing supererogatory acts. Furthermore, this analysis brings attention to the fact that whenever an act is ‘supererogatory’, it cannot, at the same time, be a ‘special obligation’ (and vice versa). As a consequence, if ‘proximity’ plays such a role, an objection to the possibility of self-regarding supererogation can be made.
Etica & Politica / Ethics and Politics
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Simone Grigoletto “Why proximity matters for the concept of supererogation” in "Etica & Politica / Ethics and Politics, (2017) XIX/1", Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2017, pp. 291-307