Gabriel Bonnot de Mably takes up the republican commonplace that the desire for esteem is what could motivate the fulfilment of duties of civic virtue. This commonplace, however, has become problematic through the discussion of the problem of human corruption in philosophers such as Blaise Pascal and Nicolas Malebranche. In this article, I will show that Mably takes this problem seriously; however, his critique of Malebranche’s solution to this problem motivates his own republican defense of the moral value of the desire for esteem. What makes this defense plausible is his argument that distorted esteem derives from imagination that is distorted, not as a result of natural factors but rather as a result of misguided politics. If some cases of distorted esteem derive from misguided politics, Mably argues, then they can be modified by republican constitution building that modifies the imagination of citizens.