Saints, Heroes and Moral Necessity

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Many people who perform paradigmatic examples of acts of supererogation claim that they could not have done otherwise. In this paper I will argue that these self-reports from moral exemplars present a challenge to the traditional view of supererogation as involving agential sacrifice. I will argue that the claims made by moral exemplars are plausibly understood as what Bernard Williams calls a ‘practical necessity’. I will then argue that this makes it implausible to view these acts as involving agential sacrifice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-124
Number of pages19
JournalRoyal Institute of Philosophy Supplementary Volume
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Supererogation
  • Sacrifice
  • Moral Saint
  • Moral hero
  • Moral Philosophy


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