Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Michael Pritchard

Second Advisor

Dr. Paul Maier

Third Advisor

Dr. Dale Pattison

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Dale Porter

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only


This thesis analyzes the moral-philosophical and ethical development of four generations of the James Stephen family. The four individuals were James Stephen (1758 -1832), Sir James Stephen (1789 - 1859), Sir Leslie Stephen (1832 - 1904), and Virginia Stephen Woolf (1882 - 1941).

The moral philosophy and ethical development of each of these individuals was analyzed through the application of Alasdair Maclntyre's work in After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory (Notre Dame, 1984).

The conclusions of the thesis were threefold. First, there was a dramatic shift in both the moral foundations and particular ethics between the first and fourth generations. Secondly, the moral development of the four generations matches closely with that which MacIntyre says has taken place in the West, indicating the perspicuity of Maclntyre's analysis of Western moral thought. Finally, the study has shown that there can be a successful and mutually beneficial integration of the disciplines of History and Philosophy. Using Maclntyre's philosophical analysis of moral thought unearthed the moral thought of the Stephen family to a depth which would have been difficult using only standard historical analysis.

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