Perfection, near-perfection, maximality, and Anselmian Theism

  • Graham Oppy


Anselmian theists claim (a) that there is a being than which none greater can be conceived; and (b) that it is knowable on purely—solely, entirely—a priori grounds that there is a being than which none greater can be conceived. In this paper, I argue that Anselmian Theism gains traction by conflating different interpretations of the key description ‘being than which no greater can be conceived’. In particular, I insist that it is very important to distinguish between ideal excellence and maximal possible excellence. At the end of my paper, I illustrate the importance of this distinction by applying my discussion to the recent defence of Anselmian Theism in Nagasawa (Philos Q 58:577–591, 2008).


Anselmian Theism God Nagasawa Ontological argument Perfection 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Philosophy and BioethicsMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia

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