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Finite and Infinite Goods

Robert Merrihew Adams

Published in print June 2002 | ISBN: 9780195153712
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199869381 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195153715.001.0001
Finite and Infinite Goods

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The book proposes a framework for ethics that is organized around a transcendent Good and its relation to the many finite goods of our experience. Two main themes are the central role of the Good in ethics and the transcendence of the infinite Good, which is identified with God. Part One (Chs. 1–4) is devoted to the nature of the Good, arguing that a theory that assigns to God a role as definitive archetype of Good, analogous to the role of the Form of the Good in Plato, is the most satisfactory metaphysics of morals and compatible with the most plausible semantics of morals. Among types of good, it assigns the primacy to intrinsic excellence, and argues that human well‐being and the value of persons as persons are best understood in terms of excellence. The conception of excellence advocated here is closely connected with the idea of love. Part Two (chapters 5–9) focuses on the question of how it is good to love the Good, addressing relationships between God's love and ours, and between love for the Good as such and love for particular goods. Part Three (chapters 10–14) takes up the place of obligation and the related concepts of right and wrong in an ethical framework in which the Good rather than the right is the primary ethical concept. It argues for a social conception of the nature of obligation in which morally valid requirements are authorized by divine commands. It also addresses questions about the political implications of an excellence‐centered framework for ethics. Part Four (chapters 15–16) proposes a doxastic practice epistemology for ethics, and deals with questions about the place of revelation and faith, in ethics.

Keywords: divine command; ethics; excellence; faith; love; morality; obligation; philosophy of religion; revelation; semantics; the Good; transcendence

Book.  424 pages. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Finite and Infinite Goods

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God as the Good in Finite and Infinite Goods

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The Transcendence of the Good in Finite and Infinite Goods

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Well‐Being and Excellence in Finite and Infinite Goods

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The Sacred and the Bad in Finite and Infinite Goods

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Eros in Finite and Infinite Goods

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Grace in Finite and Infinite Goods

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Devotion in Finite and Infinite Goods

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Idolatry in Finite and Infinite Goods

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Symbolic Value in Finite and Infinite Goods

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