Date of Award

8-13-2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Eric Wilson

Second Advisor

Timothy O'Keefe

Abstract

Scholars have compared Joseph Butler and Immanuel Kant’s moral theories, claiming that they both center on the concept of autonomy. In this thesis, I argue that, despite this superficial similarity, they disagree about the core commitments of their conceptions of autonomy. Butlerian autonomy relies on inferring from the normative authority of conscience to the descriptive that human nature is adapted to virtue, and from this descriptive claim about human nature to moral obligation. Kant rejects these inferences, and therefore rejects the key components of Butlerian autonomy. Moreover, I argue that Kant’s rejection of Butler’s conception of human nature renders Butler’s stoic conception of virtue unavailable to Kant.

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