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Nietzsche on free will, autonomy and the sovereign individual

Gemes, Ken (2006) Nietzsche on free will, autonomy and the sovereign individual Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume, 80, (1), pp. 321-338. (doi:10.1111/j.1467-8349.2006.00146.x).

Record type: Article


In some texts Nietzsche vehemently denies the possibility of free will; in others he seems to positively countenance its existence. This paper distinguishes two different notions of free will. Agency free will is intrinsically tied to the question of agency, what constitutes an action as opposed to a mere doing. Deserts free will is intrinsically tied to the question of desert, of who does and does not merit punishment and reward. It is shown that we can render Nietzsche's prima facie conflicting assertions regarding free will compatible by interpreting him as rejecting deserts free will while accepting the possibility of agency free will. It is argued that Nietzsche's advances an original form of compatibilism which takes agency free will to be a rare achievement rather than a natural endowment.

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Published date: June 2006


Local EPrints ID: 48428
ISSN: 1467-8349
PURE UUID: c23ced33-d7be-427b-9d44-527d30e8d53b

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Date deposited: 21 Sep 2007
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 14:59

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Author: Ken Gemes

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