The Journal of Value Inquiry

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 107–123 | Cite as

Intentions, Motives and Supererogation

  • Claire BennEmail author


Supererogatory actions go beyond the call of duty. They are actions that, while being morally good,1 are neither morally required nor morally forbidden. On these two features—goodness and optionality—all accounts of supererogation agree. I focus in this paper on two further features proposed by some accounts of supererogation: praiseworthiness and intentionality.

With respect to supererogation and praiseworthiness—and the motivation of the agent more generally—two camps have emerged. According to one, the praiseworthiness of the agent is a necessary condition for an action to be supererogatory, while the other rejects that necessity. However, I challenge the idea that the latter camp can sufficiently distinguish themselves from the former without giving a radically permissive account of the supererogatory, given that both camps acknowledge the importance of the intentions of the agent.

In §2, I outline the two different positions on motivations taken by accounts of...



My thanks to David Heyd, Georgie Statham, Silvia Jonas, Olla Solomyak, Leora Dahan Katz, Sharon Berry, Elvira Di Bona, Moyra Tourlamain, and Lucy Campbell. I am also grateful to the participants at the Israeli Philosophical Association as well as the anonymous reviewers for this journal for their helpful feedback.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Polonsky Academy for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social SciencesVan Leer Jerusalem InstituteJerusalemIsrael

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