Journal of Religious Ethics 34 (3):485 - 520 (2006)

James Wetzel
Villanova University
When "Finite and Infinite Goods" was published in 1999, it took its place as one of the few major statements of a broadly Augustinian ethical philosophy of the past century. By "broadly Augustinian" I refer to the disposition to combine a Platonic emphasis on a transcendent source of value with a traditionally theistic emphasis on the value-creating capacities of absolute will. In the form that this disposition takes with Robert Merrihew Adams, it is the resemblance between divine and a finite excellence that makes the finite excellence objectively of value, and it is the correspondence of an obligation to a divine command that makes the obligation objectively obligatory. I look closely at the complexity of this ethical division of labor--between the good and the right--mainly as it appears in the context of "Finite and Infinite Goods", but also with attention to the broader corpus of Adams's writings, particularly his work on Leibniz and the essays of his that have been gathered together in "The Virtue of Faith". I argue that there is a creative tension in his work between his desire to secure an objective basis for ethics and his affirmation of the value of grace, a love that is not proportioned to the excellence of its object. This tension, I further argue, ought to be resolved in the direction of grace
Keywords Adams  Platonism  divine command  transcendent value  grace  eros  moral obligation
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9795.2006.00279.x
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References found in this work BETA

After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory.Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1983 - University of Notre Dame Press.
The Sources of Normativity.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.
Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature.Alvin I. Goldman - 1979 - Philosophical Review 90 (3):424-429.
The Sovereignty of Good.Iris Murdoch - 1970 - New York: Schocken Books.

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