The moral philosophy of Bishop Butler
Shenk, Jacob Paul
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The purpose of this study is to provide a critical interpretation of Bishop Butler's moral philosophy. The objective is two-fold, including both exposition and evaluation. The concept of morality has sometimes been reduced to that of an external demand laid upon the individual, either by God, or by society, or by a sovereign ruler. Of fundamental value in Butler's moral philosophy is the insight that morality rises from the demand of one's own nature. The summons of conscience is a summons to be oneself in the deepest sense, and thus to realize one's true destiny as a human being. Morality thus finds its basis in nature rather than in convention. In this respect Butler sides with Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and the English rationalists against Hobbes, Mandeville, and Locke. Butler further agrees with the classical Greek and with the rationalist tradition in regarding reality as an ordered whole, with which the structure of man's individual nature is continuous. It is this ontological ground which gives to moral judgment its full cognitive and normative significance [TRUNCATED].
Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University.