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A Virtue Ethical Account of Supererogation

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Contemporary virtue ethicists have attempted to offer a virtue-based account of moral obligation. However, such an account is faced by a daunting challenge, the ‘supererogation problem’ as I call it. Since what a virtuous person would characteristically do is often beyond the scope of moral duty, virtue ethics seems to have difficulty in accommodating the distinction between obligation and supererogation. This paper aims to show that virtue ethics can meet this challenge. I propose two virtue ethical accounts of supererogation: an exemplar version and an advisor version. I argue that the second, more advanced account can help solve the supererogation problem.