"Keeping the heart": Natural affection in Joseph Butler's approach to virtue

Journal of Religious Ethics 37 (4):613-629 (2009)
This essay considers eighteenth-century Anglican thinker Joseph Butler's view of the role of natural emotions in moral reasoning and action. Emotions such as compassion and resentment are shown to play a positive role in the moral life by motivating action and by directing agents toward certain good objects—for example, relief of misery and justice. For Butler, moral virtue is present when these natural affections are kept in proper proportion by the "superior" principles of the moral life—conscience, self-love, and benevolence—which involve the capacity for reasonable reflection. For contemporary thinkers, Butler's approach suggests that natural emotion should not be viewed as the enemy of moral reasoning; in fact, it challenges ethicists to pay attention to and account for the significant role of the emotions in the moral life
Keywords virtue  conscience  emotion  Joseph Butler  reason  self‐love  benevolence
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 27,157
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory.Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 2007 - University of Notre Dame Press.

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

24 ( #209,427 of 2,163,662 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #348,043 of 2,163,662 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums