Nietzsche's Philosophy of Action

Blackwell Companion to Philosophy of Action, 2010

18 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2009 Last revised: 14 Aug 2009

Date Written: July 6, 2009


Nietzsche holds that people lack freedom of the will in any sense that would be sufficient for ascriptions of moral responsibility; that the conscious experience we have of willing is actually epiphenomenal with respect to the actions that follow that experience; and that our actions largely arise through non-conscious processes (psychological and physiological) of which we are only dimly aware, and over which we exercise little or no conscious control. At the same time, Nietzsche, always a master of rhetoric, engages in a “persuasive definition” (Stevenson 1938) of the language of “freedom” and “free will,” to associate the positive valence of these terms with a certain Nietzschean ideal of the person unrelated to traditional notions of free will.

Keywords: Nietzsche, free will, moral responsibility, freedom, philosophy of action, epiphenomenalism

Suggested Citation

Leiter, Brian, Nietzsche's Philosophy of Action (July 6, 2009). Blackwell Companion to Philosophy of Action, 2010, Available at SSRN:

Brian Leiter (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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