Accessibility navigation

Being and goodness

Oderberg, D. S. ORCID: (2014) Being and goodness. American Philosophical Quarterly, 51 (4). pp. 345-356. ISSN 2152-1123

Text - Accepted Version
· Please see our End User Agreement before downloading.


It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.

Official URL:


The old scholastic principle of the "convertibility" of being and goodness strikes nearly all moderns as either barely comprehensible or plain false. "Convertible" is a term of art meaning "interchangeable" in respect of predication, where the predicates can be exchanged salva veritate albeit not salva sensu: their referents are, as the maxim goes, really the same albeit conceptually different. The principle seems, at first blush, absurd. Did the scholastics literally mean that every being is good? Is that supposed to include a cancer, a malaria parasite, an earthquake that kills millions? If every being is good, then no being is bad—but how can that be? To the contemporary philosophical mind, such bafflement is understandable. It derives from the systematic dismantling of the great scholastic edifice that took place over half a millennium. With the loss of the basic concepts out of which that edifice was built, the space created by those concepts faded out of existence as well. The convertibility principle, like virtually all the other scholastic principles (not all, since some do survive and thrive in analytic philosophy), could not persist in a post-scholastic space wholly alien to it.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Philosophy
ID Code:39606
Publisher:University of Illinois Press


Downloads per month over past year

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation