Organon F

2021, Pages 1–19

ISSN 2585-7150 (online) ISSN 1335-0668 (print)

Research Article

Susan Wolf on Supererogation and the Dark Side of Morality 

Nora Grigore

DOI: to be assigned


Wolf proposes supererogation as a solution for curbing the exaggerated demands of morality. Adopting supererogation is supposed to prevent us from considering that all morally good deeds are obligatory. Supererogation, indeed, makes some morally good deeds merely optional, saving the agent from the requirement of behaving as much as possible like a Moral Saint. But I argue that Wolf cannot use supererogation in service of her overall project, for two reasons. First, because implied in the concept of supererogation is that going beyond duty adds to our humanity rather than detract from it (as Wolf argues). Secondly, after analyzing attempts to acclimatize supererogation in other theoretical frameworks, I conclude that supererogation can limit morality’s claims only if Wolf’s reasons of “individual perfection” can defeat moral reasons. I argue that a common scale of evaluation between moral and non-moral reasons is needed for their comparison, but Wolf explicitly rejects this way out.


Morality; moral saints; supererogation.

Author(s) and affiliation(s)


Nora Grigore


About this article


22 December 2020


30 March 2021


11 July 2021

Published online

7 December 2021


Institute of Philosophy of the Slovak Academy of Sciences

Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences

Cite as

Grigore, Nora. "Susan Wolf on Supererogation and the Dark Side of Morality" Organon F 2021, 1–19.

Copyright information

© Nora Grigore

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