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Finite and Infinite Goods: A Framework for Ethics Paperback – May 9, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

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"Finite and Infinite Goods is a work that every Christian philosopher and theologian concerned with ethics simply must read. It has been a long time since I have read a book with such a bold and original vision, coupled with careful argument and insightful reflection on particular problems and issues."--Books & Culture


"...one of the two most important books in moral philosophy of the last quarter century, the other being After Virtue."--Theology Today


About the Author

Robert Merrihew Adams is at Yale University.
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Product Details

  • Series: Framework for Ethics
  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (May 9, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195153715
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195153712
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #971,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Metaphysician and moral philosopher, Robert Merrihew Adams, offers an elaborate framework for ethics based upon divine love as the ultimate good. Adams understands God as the Good itself, which means that the Good is a concrete personal individual. In Adams' metaphysics, God plays the part of the form of the beautiful in Plato's thought. God as the supreme Good transcends all other goods.

Adams believes that God's existence is metaphysically necessary, and those properties that fit God follow necessarily from the divine nature. The supreme Good is one aspect of the divine nature. This means that the only limits upon God are those that follow from God's own nature. Love is a necessary aspect of the divine nature, but God's preferences and actions as expressions of love are contingent. "The freedom ascribed to God does not include, as ours does, a possibility of desiring or choosing those ends that are rightly counted as bad" (48). This means that the standard of goodness is defined by the divine nature and thus is good for all possible worlds.

According to Adams' theory, what counts as good is not reducible to any human view about what the good is. The good is not fully accountable by any empirical test. Rather, the realm of value is organized around a transcendent good that is God. This means that the nature of value cannot be confined to the horizon of the physical or human world.

Adams makes a distinction between well-being and excellence. He notes that most contemporary thought focuses mainly upon well-being, or what is good for a person. Adams' own theory places primary importance upon excellence. Excellence implies a goodness in itself rather than goodness for another. Interest in well-being is secondary to the greater interest in excellence.
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