Senior Literature Review Fall 2018

Bay’s Second Presentation


Bay’s second presentation was on an article about forgiveness and supererogation by Alfred Archer (2017).

Archer’s article is complicated. It begins with the views of one philosopher, Gamlund, who believes there can be a duty to forgive. In the course of explaining why forgiveness can be mandatory, Gamlund offers some remarks aimed at distinguishing mandatory cases of forgiveness from those that are optional or supererogatory. Archer takes aim at these. He does not think that Gamlund’s way of distinguishing between cases where forgiveness is required and cases where it is optional works. Nor does he think that two other views of supererogation can accommodate Gamlund’s insights. Fortunately, Archer’s own favored view of supererogation is compatible with the insightful parts of Gamlund’s thinking about forgiveness.

One difficult Bay faced with this is that the author isn’t really interested in forgiveness. He’s interested in supererogation.

Our Discussion

Oscar articulated the Good-Ought Tie-Up pretty nicely. As he put it, the idea is that if something is the best thing you could do, then it’s what you should do.

We talked about how the Favored Reasons view tries to answer that. But I’m afraid we were confused by the argument on p. 230. Coleman thought that Anderson dismissed the Favored Reasons view too quickly.

James pointed out that the Freedom view needs to distinguish between cases in which it is sensible to let people have more freedom and ones in which it is less sensible. No one in their right minds thinks that murderers need the freedom to carry out their craft, after all.


Archer, Alfred. 2017. “Forgiveness and the Limits of Duty.” Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics 19: 225–44.