Duties that become supererogatory or forbidden?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter first examines certain of Derek Parfit’s views in his On What Matters, volume iii on the relation between not harming, aiding, and making personal sacrifices to achieve each. It compares his views with those of the author on two different measures of the stringency of duties and the distinction between supererogation and obligation. The chapter goes on to consider implications of these views for cases in which an agent must choose whether to save many people by either (i) not saving or harming someone else or (ii) suffering some large personal loss himself. The chapter continues by arguing against one way in which Parfit thinks an agent-relative deontological conception of one’s duty incorrectly bars our having common aims by requiring each person to minimize the harm he does.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPrinciples and Persons
Subtitle of host publicationThe Legacy of Derek Parfit
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780192893994
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


  • Common aim
  • Deontology
  • Duty
  • Harming
  • Not aiding
  • Parfit
  • Personal loss
  • Stringency
  • Supererogation


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