Against the two dominant strands in the secondary literature on Nietzsche's political philosophy - one attributing to Nietzsche a kind of flat-footed commitment to aristocratic forms of social ordering, the other denying that Nietzsche has any political philosophy at all-Tamsin Shaw stakes out a new and surprising position: namely, that Nietzsche was very much concerned with the familiar question of the moral or normative legitimacy of state power, but was skeptical that with the demise of religion, it would be possible (...) to achieve a practically effective normative consensus about such legitimacy that was untainted by the exercise of state power itself. Although, as I will argue, there are reasons to be quite skeptical that Nietzsche was interested in anything like these questions, Shaw has laid down a clear and invigorating challenge to existing scholarship on Nietzsche's politics, and it is one worth meeting. (shrink)
This essay offers a new interpretation of Nietzsche's argument for moral skepticism (i.e., the metaphysical thesis that there do not exist any objective moral properties or facts), an argument that should be of independent philosophical interest as well. On this account, Nietzsche offers a version of the argument from moral disagreement, but, unlike familiar varieties, it does not purport to exploit anthropological reports about the moral views of exotic cultures, or even garden-variety conflicting moral intuitions about concrete cases. Nietzsche, instead, (...) calls attention to the single most important and embarrassing fact about the history of moral theorizing by philosophers over two millennia: namely, that no rational consensus has been secured on any substantive, foundational proposition about morality. Persistent and apparently intractable disagreement on foundational questions, of course, distinguishes moral theory from inquiry in the sciences and mathematics (perhaps in kind, certainly in degree). According to Nietzsche, the best explanation for this disagreement is that, even though moral skepticism is true, philosophers can still construct valid dialectical justifications for moral propositions because the premises of different justifications will answer to the psychological needs of at least some philosophers and thus be deemed true by some of them. The essay concludes by considering various attempts to defuse this abductive argument for skepticism based on moral disagreement and by addressing the question whether the argument "proves too much," that is, whether it might entail an implausible skepticism about a wide range of topics about which there is philosophical disagreement. (shrink)
According to one recent scholar, "Most commentators on Nietzsche would agree that he is in a broad sense a naturalist in his mature philosophy" (Janaway 2007: 34). This may come as a surprise to those who think of Heidegger, Kaufmann, DeMan, Kofman, Deleuze, and Nehamas, among others, as "commentators" on Nietzsche. And yet there are, indeed, clear signs that in the last twenty years, as Nietzsche studies has become more philosophically sophisticated, the naturalist reading of Nietzsche has come to the (...) fore, certainly in Anglophone scholarship. In Nietzsche on Morality (2002), I set out a systematic reading of Nietzsche as a philosophical naturalist, one which has attracted considerable critical comment, including from some generally sympathetic to reading Nietzsche as a philosophical naturalist. In this paper, I revisit that reading and respond to various objections. Topics covered include the role of "speculation" in Nietzsche's naturalism; the difference between the Humean and Therapeutic Nietzsches; the role of culture in naturalistic explanations; the status of claims about causation in Nietzsche's naturalism; whether the apparent metaphysics of the will to power is compatible with naturalism; and how Nietzsche's speculative naturalism fares in light of subsequent work in empirical psychology. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
This is a new preface written for the Greek translation of my NIETZSCHE ON MORALITY (Routledge, 2002), which will be published by Okto Publishing (Athens) in 2009. The publisher asked that I discuss how I became interested in Nietzsche, how my views about him evolved, and also how I would respond to the still-common perception (esp. in Europe) of Nietzsche as a thinker of "the right.".
Any reader of Foucault's corpus recognizes fairly quickly that it is animated by an ethical impulse, namely, to liberate individuals from a kind of oppression from which they suffer. This oppression, however, does not involve the familiar tyranny of the Leviathan or the totalitarian state; it exploits instead values that the victim of oppression herself accepts, and which then leads the oppressed agent to be complicit in her subjugation. It also depends, crucially, on a skeptical thesis about the epistemology of (...) the social sciences. It is this conjunction of claims-that individuals oppress themselves in virtue of certain moral and epistemic norms they accept-that marks Foucault's uniquely disturbing contribution to the literature whose diagnostic aim is, with Max Weber, to understand the oppressive character of modernity, and whose moral aim is, with the Frankfurt School, human liberation and human flourishing. I offer here both a reconstruction of Foucault's project - focusing on the role that ethical and epistemic norms play in how agents subjugate themselves - and some modestly critical reflections on his project, especially the weaknesses in his critique of the epistemic standing of the human sciences. (shrink)
The topic this semester will be “methodology,” with special (but not exclusive) reference to the recent, voluminous literature on this topic in legal philosophy. There are two central questions: (1) Is there a distinctive method of philosophical inquiry? (2) What is the relationship between philosophical methods and the methods (and results) of the empirical sciences (broadly construed)?
Shapiro (2007) has recently argued that Dworkin posed a new objection to legal positivism in Law's Empire, to which positivists, he says, have not adequately responded. Positivists, the objection goes, have no satisfactory account of what Dworkin calls “theoretical disagreement” about law, that is, disagreement about “the grounds of law” or what positivists would call the criteria of legal validity. I agree with Shapiro that the critique is new, and disagree that it has not been met. Positivism can not offer (...) an explanation that preserves the “face value” of theoretical disagreements, because the only intelligible dispute about the criteria of legal validity is an empirical or “head count” dispute, i.e., a dispute about what judges are doing, and how many of them are doing it (since it is the actual practice of officials and their attitudes towards that practice that fixes the criteria of legal validity according to the positivist). Positivism, however, has two other explanations for theoretical disagreement, which “explain away” rather than preserve the “face value” disagreement. According to positivists, either theoretical disagreements are disingenuous, in the sense that the parties, consciously or unconsciously, are really trying to change the law, that is, they are trying to say, as Dworkin puts it, “what it should be” not “what the law is”; or they are simply in error, that is, they honestly think there is a fact of the matter about what the grounds of law are, and thus what the law is, in the context of their disagreement, but they are mistaken, because, in truth, there is no fact of the matter about the grounds of law in this instance precisely because there is no convergent practice of behavior among officials constituting a Rule of Recognition on this point. The “Disingenuity” and “Error Theory” accounts of theoretical disagreement are explored, with attention to the theoretical desiderata (e.g., simplicity, consilience, methodological conservativism) at stake in choosing between competing explanatory theories. Particular attention is given to the best explanation for Riggs v. Palmer in light of the actual historical context of the decision and other opinions by the Riggs judges in contemporaneous cases. (shrink)
Ronald Dworkin describes an approach to how courts should decide cases that he associates with Judge Richard Posner as a Chicago School of anti-theoretical, no-nonsense jurisprudence. Since Professor Dworkin takes his own view of adjudication to be diametrically opposed to that of the Chicago School, it might seem fair, then, to describe Dworkin's own theory as an instance of pro-theoretical, nonsense jurisprudence. That characterization is not one, needless to say, that Professor Dworkin welcomes. Dworkin describes his preferred approach to jurisprudential (...) questions, to be sure, as theoretical, in opposition to what he calls the practical orientation of the Chicago School. But while there is a real dispute between Dworkin and Posner, it is not one illuminated by the contrast between theory and practice. It is, rather a dispute about the kind of theory that is relevant and illuminating when it comes to law and adjudication. And the fault line marked by this dispute is profound indeed, one that extends far beyond Dworkin and Posner and has a venerable and ancient history. I shall describe it, instead, as a dispute between Moralists and Realists, between those whose starting point is a theory of how things (morally) ought to be versus those who begin with a theory of how things really are. The Lecture endeavors to show that our contemporaries, Ronald Dworkin and Richard Posner, are reenacting a version of the dispute between the paradigmatic philosophical moralist Plato and the paradigmatic historical realist Thucydides. (shrink)
This is a review essay (forthcoming in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews) discussing Christopher Janaway's book "Beyond Seflessness: Reading Nietzsche's 'Genealogy' (OUP, 2007). Particular attention is given to the question of Nietzsche's style, and the relationship between his philosophical positions and his therapeutic objectives; to Janaway's critique of my account of Nietzsche's naturalism; and to Nietzsche's conception of agency and the meaning of the image (from GM II:2) of "the sovereign individual.".
The conference will examine important historical influences on Nietzsche, as well as Nietzsche's legacy to later philosophy. Invited papers will last approximately one hour, followed by a short comment, and then general discussion.
“The Routledge [series] is designed to introduce students to classic works of philosophy. Brian Leiter’s Nietzsche on Morality does that, and much more. The book offers a complete commentary of On the Genealogy of Morality, but it also articulates a comprehensive and original interpretation of Nietzsche’s critique of morality. The product is an exceptionally clear and cohesive account of philosophical views known neither for their clarity nor their cohesiveness…. “The distinction, and the chief merit, of Leiter’s account is its emphasis (...) on the naturalism of Nietzsche’s approach to morality. Leiter may not quite be the first to portray Nietzsche as a naturalist, but his characterization of Nietzschean naturalism in connection with morality is the most systematic and compelling to date…. “In general, the book offers one of the most comprehensive and compelling interpretations of Nietzsche’s critique of morality…. With its distinctive emphasis on naturalistic themes, it forms a very significant contribution to the study of Nietzsche and is poised to become a work of reference in the field. Indeed, even the criticisms I have raised about this interpretation owe much to the exceptional clarity and cogency with which it is articulated.” --Bernard Reginster (Brown University), writing in Notre Dame Philosophical Review, January 2, 2003 (http://ndpr.icaap.org/content/archives/2003/1/reginster-leiter.html). (shrink)
This is an invited commentary on Richard Rorty's Dewey Lecture, given last year at the University of Chicago Law School. “Pragmatism,” says Rorty, “puts natural science on all fours with politics and art. It is one more source of suggestions about what to do with our lives.” I argue that the truth in pragmatism - that the epistemic norms that help us cope are the ones on which we rely - is obscured by Rorty's promiscuous version of the doctrine, which (...) confuses the criteria for relying on particular epistemic norms (namely, that they work for human purposes) with the content of the norms themselves (most of which make no reference to human purposes, but rather criteria like causal or explanatory power). We need presuppose no Archmiedean standpoint to conclude, as Richard Posner does, that moral inquiry is feeble in a way physics is not; we need only take seriously our best current understanding of the world, how it works, and the epistemic norms that have proven most effective in making sense of it. (shrink)
I confess to uncertainty about whether Professor Hoekema's reply http://ndpr.icaap.org/content/archives/2002/10/hoekema=leiter.html) to my comments on his review of Wilshire http://ndpr.icaap.org/content/archives/2002/10/leiter=hoekema.html) is just careless or intentionally dishonest. It is plainly quite misleading.
Religious toleration has long been the paradigm of the liberal ideal of toleration of group differences, as reflected in both the constitutions of the major Western democracies and in the theoretical literature explaining and justifying these practices. While the historical reasons for the special pride of place accorded religious toleration are familiar, what is surprising is that no one has been able to articulate a credible principled argument for tolerating religion qua religion: that is, an argument that would explain why, (...) as a matter of moral or other principle, we ought to accord special legal and moral treatment to religious practices. There are, to be sure, principled arguments for why the state ought to tolerate a plethora of private choices, commitments, and practices of its citizenry, but none of these single out religion for anything like the special treatment it is accorded in, for example, American and Canadian constitutional law. So why tolerate religion? Not because of anything that has to do with it being religion as such - or so this paper argues. (shrink)
The essay offers a philosophical reconstruction of Nietzsche's theory of the will, focusing on (1) Nietzsche's account of the phenomenology of "willing " an action, the experience we have which leads us (causally) to conceive of ourselves as exercising our will; (2) Nietzsche's arguments that the experiences picked out by the phenomenology are not causally connected to the resulting action (at least not in a way sufficient to underwrite ascriptions of moral responsibility); and (3) Nietzsche's account of the actual causal (...) genesis of action. Particular attention is given to passages from Daybreak, Beyond Good and Evil and Twilight of the Idols and a revised version of my earlier account of Nietzsche's epiphenomenalism is defended. Finally, recent work in empirical psychology (Libet, Wegner) is shown to support Nietzsche's skepticism that our "feeling " of will is a reliable guide to the causation of action. (shrink)
The “naturalistic turn” that has swept so many areas of philosophy over the past three decades has also had an impact in the last decade in legal philosophy. Methodological naturalists (M-naturalists) view philosophy as continuous with empirical inquiry in the sciences. Some M-naturalists want to replace conceptual and justificatory theories with empirical and descriptive theories; they take their inspiration from more-or-less Quinean arguments against conceptual analysis and foundationalist programs. Other M-naturalists retain the normative and regulative ambitions of traditional philosophy, but (...) emphasize that it is an empirical question what normative advice is actually useable and effective for creatures like us. Some M-naturalists are also.. (shrink)
Contemporary moral psychology has been dominated by two broad traditions, one usually associated with Aristotle, the other with Kant. The broadly Aristotelian approach emphasizes the role of childhood upbringing in the development of good moral character, and the role of such character in ethical behavior. The broadly Kantian approach emphasizes the role of freely chosen conscious moral principles in ethical behavior. We review a growing body of experimental evidence that suggests that both of these approaches are predicated on an implausible (...) view of human psychology. This evidence suggests that both childhood upbringing and conscious moral principles have extraordinarily little impact on people's moral behavior. This paper argues that moral psychology needs to take seriously a third approach, derived from Nietzsche. This approach emphasizes the role of heritable psychological and physiological traits in explaining behavior. In particular, it claims that differences in the degree to which different individuals behave morally can often be traced back to heritable differences between those individuals. We show that this third approach enjoys considerable empirical support - indeed that it is far better supported by the empirical data than are either the Aristotelian or Kantian traditions in moral psychology. (shrink)
Introduction: From legal realism to naturalized jurisprudence -- A note on legal indeterminacy -- Part I. American legal realism and its critics -- Rethinking legal realism: toward a naturalized jurisprudence (1997) -- Legal realism and legal positivism reconsidered (2001) -- Is there an "American" jurisprudence? (1997) -- Postscript to Part I: Interpreting legal realism -- Part II. Ways of naturalizing jurisprudence -- Legal realism, hard positivism, and the limits of conceptual analysis (1998, 2001) -- Why Quine is not a postmodernist (...) (1997) -- Beyond the Hart/Dworkin debate: the methodology problem in jurisprudence (2003) -- Part III. Naturalism, morality, and objectivity -- Moral facts and best explanations (2001) -- Objectivity, morality, and adjudication (2001) -- Law and objectivity (2002). (shrink)
The essay offers a philosophical reconstruction of Nietzsche’s theory of the will, focusing on (1) Nietzsche’s account of the phenomenology of “willing” an action, the experience we have which leads us (causally) to conceive of ourselves as exercising our will; (2) Nietzsche’s arguments that the experiences picked out by the phenomenology are not causally connected to the resulting action (at least not in a way sufficient to underwrite ascriptions of moral responsibility); and (3) Nietzsche’s account of the actual causal genesis (...) of action. Particular attention is given to passages from Daybreak, Beyond Good and Evil and Twilight of the Idols and a revised version of my earlier account of Nietzsche’s epiphenomenalism is defended. Finally, recent work in empirical psychology (Libet, Wegner) is shown to support Nietzsche’s skepticism that our “feeling” of will is a reliable guide to the causation of action. (shrink)
Where does philosophy, the oldest academic subject, stand at the beginning of the new millennium? This remarkable volume brings together leading figures from most major branches of the discipline to offer answers. What remains of the "linguistic turn" in twentieth-century philosophy? How should moral philosophy respond to and incorporate developments in empirical psychology? Where might Continental and Anglophone feminist theory profitably interact? How has our understanding of ancient philosophy been affected by the emergence of analytic philosophy? Where does the mind-body (...) problem stand today? What role must value judgments play in science? Do Marx, Nietzsche, or Freud matter in the 21st century? These and many other questions at the cutting edge of the discipline are addressed by distinguished philosophers from Australia, Britain, Canada, and the United States. They aim not only to stimulate philosophical debate, but to introduce those in cognate disciplines--biology, classics, economics, history, law, linguistics, literary studies, mathematics, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology, among others--to what is happening in contemporary philosophy. In a substantial introduction, the editor gives an overview of the state of philosophy today and helps orient non-philosophers. List of Contributors Julia Annas: Ancient Philosophy for the Twenty-First Century Don Garrett: Philosophy and History in the History of Modern Philosophy Brian Leiter: The Hermeneutics of Suspicion: Recovering Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud Timothy Williamson: Past the Linguistic Turn? Jaegwon Kim: The Mind-Body Problem at Century's Turn David J. Chalmers: The Representational Character of Experience Alvin I. Goldman: The Need for Social Epistemology Philip Kitcher: The Ends of the Sciences Nancy Cartwright: From Causation to Explanation and Back Thomas Hurka: Normative Ethics: Back to the Future Peter Railton: Toward an Ethics that Inhabits the World Rae Langton: Projection and Objectification Philip Pettit: Existentialism, Quietism, and the Role of Philosophy. (shrink)
Nietzsche is one of the most important and controversial thinkers in the history of philosophy. His writings on moral philosophy are among the most widely read works in philosophy- many of his ideas are both startling and disturbing.
The seven original essays included in this volume, written by some of the world's most distinguished moral and legal philosophers, offer a sophisticated perspective on issues about the objectivity of legal interpretation and judicial decision-making. They examine objectivity from both metaphysical and epistemological perspectives and develop a variety of approaches, constructive and critical, to the fundamental problems of objectivity in morality. One of the key issues explored is that of the alleged 'domain-specificity' of conceptions of objectivity, i.e. whether there is (...) a conception of objectivity appropriate for ethics that is different in kind from the conception of objectivity appropriate for other areas of study. This is the first volume to consider the intersection between objectivity in ethics and objectivity in law. It presents a state-of-the-art survey of live issues in metaethics, and examines their relevance to theorizing about law and adjudication. (shrink)
The latest volume in the Oxford Readings in Philosophy series, this work brings together some of the best and most influential recent philosophical scholarship on Nietzsche. Opening with a substantial introduction by John Richardson, it covers: Nietzsche's views on truth and knowledge, his 'doctrines' of the eternal recurrence and will to power, his distinction between Apollinian and Dionysian art, his critique of morality, his conceptions of agency and self-creation, and his genealogical method. For each of these issues, the papers show (...) Nietzsche's continuing philosophical importance. Giving a clear and accessible overview, while retaining an analytical philosophical approach throughout, this volume is essential reading for all students of Nietzsche. (shrink)