Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search



From Late Latin superērogātiō (payment in addition), from superērogāre (to pay in addition), from super (in addition to) + ērogāre (I pay, pay out, expend, disburse), equivalent to supererogate +‎ -ion.



supererogation (countable and uncountable, plural supererogations)

  1. An act of doing more than is required.
    • 1593, Gabriel Harvey, “To right worshipfull his especiall dear friend, M. Gabriell Harvey, Doctour of Law”, in Pierces Supererogation: Or A New Prayse of the Old Asse, London: Imprinted by Iohn Wolfe, OCLC 165778203; reprinted as John Payne Collier, editor, Pierces Supererogation: Or A New Prayse of the Old Asse. A Preparative to Certaine Larger Discourses, Intituled Nashes S. Fame (Miscellaneous Tracts. Temp. Eliz. & Jac. I; no. 8), [London: [s.n.], 1870], OCLC 23963073, page 13:
      And ſithence the very thunder-lightning of your admirable eloquence is ſufficiently available to ſtrike them with a lame palſie of tongue (if they be not already ſmitten with a ſenceleſſe apoplexy in head, which may eaſely enſue ſuch contagious catharres and reumes, as I am privy ſome of them have been grievouſly diſſeaſed withall), miſſe not, but hitt them ſuerly home, as they deſerve with Supererogation.
    • 1841 April, Edgar Allan Poe, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, in Graham's Magazine:
      And, therefore, it was thought a matter of supererogation to withdraw the nails and open the windows.
  2. (philosophy) An action that is neither morally forbidden nor required, but has moral value.
    • 1982, John P. Reeder, Jr., “Beneficence, Supererogation, and Role Duty”, in Earl E. Shelp, editor, Beneficence and Health Care (Philosophy and Medicine; 11), Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Company, DOI:10.1007/978-94-009-7769-3, →ISBN, page 93:
      For now let us look at the supererogation which would be contrasted with mutual aid. [] [T]here would be two fundamental types of supererogation. Supererogation 1 focuses on the same sorts of situations and the same sorts of aid covered by mutual aid, but removes the limit on the cost to the giver: [] Supererogation number 2 focuses not on situations where basic needs are threatened, but on well-being, []
    • 1992, Phillip Montague, “Beneficence and Supererogation”, in In the Interests of Others: An Essay in Moral Philosophy (Philosophical Studies; 55), Dordrecht: Springer Science+Business Media, DOI:10.1007/978-94-011-2777-6, →ISBN:
      According to standard definitions of supererogation, acts are supererogatory if and only if they are neither morally obligatory nor morally prohibited, but nevertheless have moral value (are morally good, etc.).
    • 2001, Robert M. Timko, Clinical Ethics: Due Care and the Principle of Nonmaleficence, Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, →ISBN, pages 120–121:
      Exposing one's self to a severely communicable disease in order to alleviate that individual's suffering, e.g., working in a tubercular ward in the early part of this century, or working in an AIDS hospice today, could be seen as supererogations of type one. Providing cosmetic surgery, not as the repair of a disfigurement caused by accident or injury, but simply to enhance one's features, or providing Human Growth Hormone so one may not be considered short, would be examples of supererogations of type two.
    • 2016 spring, David Heyd, “Supererogation”, in Edward N. Zalta, editor, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy[1]:
      Supererogation is the technical term for the class of actions that go “beyond the call of duty.” Roughly speaking, supererogatory acts are morally good although not (strictly) required. [] Surprisingly, the history of supererogation in non-religious ethical theory is fairly recent, starting only in 1958 with J. O. Urmson's seminal article, “Saints and Heroes.”

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]