Junior Visiting Fellow
(October 2010 – March 2011)
Autonomy, Conscience, and Self-Deception
Since the Enlightenment we have put increasing emphasis on autonomy, in both our political and ethical thought. Self-deception presents an immediate difficulty for such a program: we tend to deceive ourselves, especially when it matters, and more and more internalized conceptions of ethics give us less and less ability to check self-deception. My project will look at the ethics of autonomy and the moral problem of self-deception through the work of the 18th Century philosopher and clergyman Joseph Butler. Butler‘s views on the primacy of conscience and the ubiquity of self-deception will serve as both an inspiration for and a foil to my own.