Nietzsche and Kant on the Will: Two Models of Reflective Agency

Kant and Nietzsche are typically thought to have diametrically opposed accounts of willing: put simply, whereas Kant gives signal importance to reflective episodes of choice, Nietzsche seems to deny that reflective choices have any significant role in the etiology of human action. In this essay, I argue that the dispute between Kant and Nietzsche actually takes a far more interesting form. Nietzsche is not merely rejecting the Kantian picture of agency. Rather, Nietzsche is offering a subtle critique of the Kantian theory, denying certain aspects of it while preserving others. On a standard reading, the Kantian theory of willing is committed to three claims: (1) choice causes action, (2) motives do not determine choice, and (3) reflective deliberation suspends the effects of motives. I argue that Nietzsche accepts claims (1) and (2) while denying claim (3). I show that Nietzsche's denial of (3) is premised upon a sophisticated conception of motivation. I contend that Nietzsche's denial of (3) leads him to a new model of reflective agency. This model preserves certain Kantian insights about the nature of self-conscious agency, while embedding these insights in a more complex and arguably more plausible account of motivation. The resultant theory of agency is considerably more sophisticated than has yet been appreciated.
Keywords Nietzsche  Kant  will  agency  reflection  willing  motivation
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DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2012.00623.x
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References found in this work BETA
Immanuel Kant (2007). Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Late Modern Philosophy: Essential Readings with Commentary. Blackwell Pub. Ltd.

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