The words "extralegal," or "extrajudicial" mean outside the law in a negative way-illegal actions not sanctioned by law. But what is a word for a practice not mandated by law, but praiseworthy nonetheless. In Judaic Law, for instance, there is an entire tract dedicated to enumerating practices that are not required, but are adhered to by the pious.

  • If you do something not mandated by law, but praiseworthy nonetheless, you might say you're adopting/following best practice (or recommended practice). Jun 3, 2016 at 18:42

3 Answers 3


Ethical is the first word that comes to mind--a quick thesaurus check using it gave a great list of other words that fit the profile.


  • Nah, ethics are specifically concerned with what is good and necessary for all of us to adhere to in order to maintain a society whose social ethos justifies the constraints of the expectations of the people – e.g., generally treating people equally, abhorring abuse/murder/etc, and so on. ("Normative ethics" is the branch that most people think of re: evaluating "what's right" to do in a challenging situation.) Note also that morals are separate and orthogonal to ethics. In short, ethics is more about the things you gotta do, morals are about what you think you should be. Jun 6, 2016 at 16:31
  • .. and @R.Block was specifically asking about praiseworthy deeds beyond those strictly required, so ethical considerations are actually lie on the other side of that divide. Cheers Jun 6, 2016 at 16:35
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    As I understand the question, R. block was asking for what isn't required by law, "But what is a word for a practice not mandated by law, but praiseworthy nonetheless." I would argue ethical behavior is praiseworthy--though I'm sure some may disagree. Still the link for synonyms for "ethical" has more options for those who don't think ethical behavior is praiseworthy.
    – Genxthis
    Jun 6, 2016 at 17:14
  • – But the absence of ethical behavior is a marked shortcoming, a fundamental insufficiency in the agent; the question is about stuff going beyond the law – as in, the law needs to be sufficiently fulfilled before you even get in the door. While it may be possible to be so ethically pure that one can act well beyond expectation, but that's just a set-intersection with the set of all acts beyond expectation; so while being ethical may be necessary to fulfill the requirements of good conduct, it is not in itself necessarily always sufficient. I like this question! Cheers Jun 6, 2016 at 18:28
  • Art imitating life: is it unethical to downvote an answer when you post a competing answer? Is that a shortcoming? Is not using those tactics praiseworthy by those aware of their use? Personally, I'd praise someone if they didn't do those sorts of things--even though they are not prohibited by the rules and I would say that is ethical behavior.
    – Genxthis
    Jun 6, 2016 at 18:42

enumerating practices that are not required, but are adhered to by the pious

You could say that the pious are following the spirit or intent of the law rather than just the literal interpretation.

a practice not mandated by law, but praiseworthy nonetheless

Doing something not mandated but praiseworthy could be going above and beyond your duty. Though it might be hard to apply to most people without confusing the reader whether the actions are outside the law or their normal duties, unless they are part of the legal system (judges, police etc.)


"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.

—sourced from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/supererogation, a fascinating entry on distinctions between values and duties, for example; cheers.

  • Also, "supererogatory" sounds dirty, so now I will definitely make a point of trying to use it. Jun 4, 2016 at 22:25

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