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
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