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Promises to perform supererogatory actions present an interesting puzzle. On the one hand, this seems like a promise that one should be able to keep simply by performing some good deed or other. On the other hand, the only way to keep it is to do something that exceeds one’s duties. But any good deed that one performs, which might otherwise have been supererogatory, will not go above and beyond what one is morally required to do in such a case because one has an obligation that one does not normally have—namely, an obligation to do something supererogatory. Thus, some scholars have argued that promises of this sort cannot possibly be kept and so are wrong to make. I show that, far from being impossible, keeping promises to supererogate is easy, and so there is nothing wrong with making promises of this sort.


This article was originally published in Philosophia in 2023.

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