1st Edition

The Transcendent Character of the Good Philosophical and Theological Perspectives

Edited By Petruschka Schaafsma Copyright 2023
    242 Pages
    by Routledge

    242 Pages
    by Routledge

    This volume addresses issues of moral pluralism and polarization by drawing attention to the transcendent character of the good. It probes the history of Christian theology and moral philosophy to investigate the value of this idea and then relates it to contemporary moral issues.

    The good is transcendent in that it goes beyond concrete goods, things, acts, or individual preferences. It functions as the pole of a compass that helps orient our moral life. This volume explores the critical tension between the transcendent good and its concrete embodiments in the world through concepts like conscience, natural and divine law, virtue, and grace. The chapters are divided into three parts. Part I discusses metaphysical issues like the realist nature and the unity of the good in relation to philosophical, naturalist, and theological approaches from Augustine to Iris Murdoch. The chapters in Part II explore issues about knowing the transcendent good and doing good, exemplified in the delicate balance between divine command and human virtuousness. Early Protestant theological views prove to be excellent interlocutors for this reflection. Finally, Part III focuses on how transcendence is at stake in two heavily debated moral issues of today: euthanasia and the family.

    The Transcendent Character of the Good will be of interest to scholars and advanced students working in theological ethics, moral philosophy, and the history of ethics.

    The Open Access version of this book, available at www.taylorfrancis.com, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

    Introduction. The Image of a Moral Compass: Drawing Attention to the Transcendent Character of the Good in Times of Pluralism and Polarization
    Petruschka Schaafsma

    Part I – Metaphysics: The Nature of Reality and the Good

    1. Liberal Naturalism and God
      Fiona Ellis
    2. Murdochian Moral Vision
      Rob Compaijen
    3. Goods, Rights, and Universality: A Christian View
      Nigel Biggar
    4. Christians and the Transcendence of the Good: A Response to Nigel Biggar
      Maarten Wisse
    5. Part II – Epistemology: On Knowing the Good and (not) Doing it

    6. Law, Virtue, and Protestant Ethics: Historical Bearings and Prospects for Rapprochement with Aristotelian Naturalism
      Jennifer A. Herdt
    7. Natural Goods and Divine Law: Protestant Theological Contributions to Neo-Aristotelian Naturalism
      Pieter Vos
    8. The Relationship of Virtue and Divine Law: Early Reformed Thought and Its Contemporary Appropriation
      David VanDrunen
    9. Law, Virtue, and Duty in Petrus van Mastricht’s Theoretico-Practica Theologia
      Dominique Klamer
    10. Part III – Topical Moral Issues: Transcendence of the Good in Euthanasia and the Family

    11. When Conscience Wavers: Some Reflections on the Normalization of Euthanasia in Belgium
      Willem Lemmens
    12. How Legal Euthanasia Continues to be Transgressive: Some Observations from the Netherlands
      A. Stef Groenewoud and Theo A. Boer
    13. Family/ies and Transcendence
      Cristina Traina
    14. The Family as Mystery: Why Taking into Account Transcendence is Needed in Current Family Debates
      Petruschka Schaafsma


    Petruschka Schaafsma is Professor of Theological Ethics at the Protestant Theological University in the Netherlands. She runs a research program in the field of ethics and theology on the meaning of family, with special attention for the aspects of givenness and dependence. On this topic, she has written a monograph Family and Christian Ethics, Cambridge University Press, 2023.