Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Eric Wilson

Second Advisor

Timothy O'Keefe


Joseph Butler characterizes his account of virtue as fulfilling the “true meaning” of the ancient precept that one ought to revere one’s self. The idea that self-reverence is important to moral conduct opposes a common view that moral conduct involves solely other-regarding attitudes and actions, and it also seems problematic for Butler’s theological commitments as an Anglican Bishop. In this thesis, I provide an interpretation of Butler’s sermons that makes sense of the role self-reverence plays in his moral thought. I argue 1) that self-reverence motivates obedience to conscience, which for Butler, secures virtue, and 2) that for Butler, self-reverence is a genuine obligation that we have. I close by considering reasons why Butler was not more explicit about the importance of self-reverence to virtue.

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