Contemporary moral philosophy tends to treat saints as either maximally moral and thus exemplary only for those who share their ideals or as so morally excellent that they are inimitable and “Other.” Thus, the saint is practically useless as a model for plain persons. Moreover, in the case of Christian saints, modern moral theories tend not to account for their religious and theological dimensions. As a remedy, this dissertation argues for thinking about the exemplarity of saints in eudaimonist and theologically naturalist terms. Christian saints exemplify what Christians consider human flourishing, revising natural accounts of human flourishing but preserving the grammar of natural goodness. The lives of Christian saints are a normative source for Christian ethics that is intelligible to non-Christians because the grammar of natural goodness is preserved even as the account of natural goodness and human flourishing is radically revised.

Degree Date

Spring 5-13-2023

Document Type


Degree Name



Religious Studies


D. Stephen Long

Second Advisor

Bruce Marshall

Third Advisor

Rebekah Miles

Fourth Advisor

Edgardo Colón-Emeric

Subject Area

Philosophy, Theology/Religious Education, Religion


moral exemplarism, eudaimonism (eudaemonism), flourishing, Christian saints, communion of saints, moral sainthood, metaethics, theology, ethics, Christian ethics, ethical naturalism, theological naturalism, cumulative case argument, Saint of saints (sanctum sanctorum), Philippa Foot, J.O. Urmson, Susan Wolf, Basil Mitchell, Alasdair MacIntyre, Peter Brown, Peter Geach, St. Augustine

Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Available for download on Monday, May 04, 2026