Supererogation, Sacrifice, and the Limits of Duty

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14 Citations (Scopus)


It is often claimed that all acts of supererogation involve sacrifice. This claim is made because it is thought that it is the level of sacrifice involved that prevents these acts from being morally required. In this paper, I will argue against this claim. I will start by making a distinction between two ways of understanding the claim that all acts of supererogation involve sacrifice. I will then examine some purported counterexamples to the view that supererogation always involves sacrifice and examine their limitations. Next, I will examine how this view might be defended, building on comments by Dale Dorsey and Henry Sidgwick. I will then argue that the view and the argument in favor of it should be rejected. I will finish by showing how an alternative explanation for the limits of moral obligation avoids the problems facing The Sacrifice View.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-354
Number of pages21
JournalThe Southern Journal of Philosophy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2016


  • supererogation
  • duty
  • moral obligation
  • Sacrifice
  • Moral Philosophy


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