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Forced Supererogation



There is a disturbing kind of situation that presents agents with only two possibilities of moral action—one especially praiseworthy, the other condemnable. I describe such scenarios and argue that moral action in them exhibits a unique set of parameters: performing the commendable action is especially praiseworthy; not performing is not blameworthy; not performing is wrong. This set of parameters is distinct from those which characterize either moral obligation or supererogation. It is accordingly claimed that it defines a distinct, yet unrecognized, deontic category, to which the name ‘Forced Supererogation’ is appropriate. The moral parameters of Forced Supererogation and the relations between them are discussed, especially the divergence of wrongness and blame. I argue that this new category allows a more accurate classification of moral actions than that imposed by the strained dichotomy of obligation versus supererogation.