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Profile: Paul Katsafanas (Boston University)
  1. Constitutivism About Practical Reasons.Paul Katsafanas - forthcoming - In Daniel Star (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity. Oxford University Press.
    This paper introduces constitutivism about practical reason, which is the view that we can justify certain normative claims by showing that agents become committed to these claims simply in virtue of acting. According to this view, action has a certain structural feature – a constitutive aim, principle, or standard – that both constitutes events as actions and generates a standard of assessment for action. We can use this standard of assessment to derive normative claims. In short, the authority of certain (...)
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  2. Nietzsche's Account of Self-Conscious Agency.Paul Katsafanas - forthcoming - In Constantine Sandis (ed.), Philosophy of Action from 1500 to the Present Day. Oxford University Press.
    An overview of Nietzsche's philosophy of action.
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  3. Nietzsche's Philosophical Psychology.Paul Katsafanas - 2013 - In John Richardson & Ken Gemes (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Nietzsche. Oxford University Press. pp. 727-755.
    Freud claimed that the concept of drive is "at once the most important and the most obscure element of psychological research." It is hard to think of a better proof of Freud's claim than the work of Nietzsche, which provides ample support for the idea that the drive concept is both tremendously important and terribly obscure. Although Nietzsche's accounts of agency and value everywhere appeal to drives, the concept has not been adequately explicated. I remedy this situation by providing an (...)
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  4. Deriving Ethics From Action: A Nietzschean Version of Constitutivism.Paul Katsafanas - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 83 (3):620-660.
    This paper has two goals. First, I offer an interpretation of Nietzsche’s puzzling claims about will to power. I argue that the will to power thesis is a version of constitutivism. Constitutivism is the view that we can derive substantive normative conclusions from an account of the nature of agency; in particular, constitutivism rests on the idea that all actions are motivated by a common, higher-order aim, whose presence generates a standard of assessment for actions. Nietzsche’s version of constitutivism is (...)
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  5. Nietzsche and Kant on the Will: Two Models of Reflective Agency.Paul Katsafanas - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 (1):185-216.
    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 (...)
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  6. Nietzsche's Theory of Mind: Consciousness and Conceptualization.Paul Katsafanas - 2005 - European Journal of Philosophy 13 (1):1–31.
    I show that Nietzsche's puzzling and seemingly inconsistent claims about consciousness constitute a coherent and philosophically fruitful theory. Drawing on some ideas from Schopenhauer and F.A. Lange, Nietzsche argues that conscious mental states are mental states with conceptually articulated content, whereas unconscious mental states are mental states with non-conceptually articulated content. Nietzsche's views on concepts imply that conceptually articulated mental states will be superficial and in some cases distorting analogues of non-conceptually articulated mental states. Thus, the claim that conscious states (...)
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  7.  60
    Nietzsche on the Nature of the Unconscious.Paul Katsafanas - 2015 - Inquiry 58 (3):327-352.
    This paper argues that Nietzsche develops a novel and compelling account of the distinction between conscious and unconscious mental states: he argues that conscious mental states are those with conceptual content, whereas unconscious mental states are those with nonconceptual content. I show that Nietzsche’s puzzling claim that consciousness is ‘superficial’ and ‘falsifying’ can be given a straightforward explanation if we accept this understanding of the conscious/unconscious distinction. I originally defended this view in my ‘Nietzsche’s Theory of Mind: Consciousness and Conceptualization’ (...)
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  8. The Concept of Unified Agency in Nietzsche, Plato, and Schiller.Paul Katsafanas - 2011 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 49 (1):87-113.
    This paper examines Nietzsche’s concept of unified agency. A widespread consensus has emerged in the secondary literature on three points: (1) Nietzsche’s notion of unity is meant to be an analysis of freedom; (2) unity refers to a relation between the agent’s drives or motivational states; and (3) unity obtains when one drive predominates and imposes order on the other drives. I argue that these claims are philosophically and textually indefensible. In contrast, I argue that (1′) Nietzschean unity is an (...)
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  9.  61
    The Emergence of the Drive Concept and the Collapse of the Animal/Human Divide.Paul Katsafanas - forthcoming - In Peter Adamson & G. Fay Edwards (eds.), Oxford Philosophical Concepts: Animals.
    In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, philosophers including Kant and Hegel draw a sharp distinction between the human and the animal. The human is self-conscious, the animal is not; the human has moral worth, the animal does not. By the mid to late nineteenth century, these claims are widely rejected. As scientific and philosophical work on the cognitive and motivational capacities of animals increases in sophistication, many philosophers become suspicious of the idea that there is any divide between (...)
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  10.  51
    Nietzsche and Murdoch on the Moral Significance of Perceptual Experience.Paul Katsafanas - forthcoming - European Journal of Philosophy.
    This paper examines a claim defended by an unlikely pair: Friedrich Nietzsche and Iris Murdoch. The claim is that perceptual experience itself—as distinct from perceptually based judgments and beliefs—can be morally significant. In particular, Nietzsche and Murdoch hold that two agents in the same circumstances attending to the same objects can have experiences with different contents, depending on the concepts that they possess and employ. Moreover, they maintain that this renders perception an object of moral concern. This paper explicates these (...)
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  11.  47
    Autonomy, Character, and Self-Understanding.Paul Katsafanas - 2016 - In Iskra Fileva (ed.), Questions of Character. Oxford University Press.
    Autonomy, traditionally conceived, is the capacity to direct one’s actions in light of self-given principles or values. Character, traditionally conceived, is the set of unchosen, relatively rigid traits and proclivities that influence, constrain, or determine one’s actions. It’s natural to think that autonomy and character will be in tension with one another. In this paper, I argue that this is a mistake: while character influences and constrains choice, this poses no problem for autonomy. However, in particular cases character can affect (...)
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  12.  42
    Naturalism, Minimalism, and the Scope of Nietzsche's Philosophical Psychology.Paul Katsafanas - 2016 - In Kristin Gjesdal (ed.), Debates in Nineteenth-Century European Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 326-338.
    Bernard Williams’ “Nietzsche’s Minimalist Moral Psychology”, replete with provocative and insightful claims, has been extremely influential in Nietzsche scholarship. In the two decades since its publication, much of the most interesting and philosophically sophisticated work on Nietzsche has focused on exactly the topics that Williams addresses: Nietzsche’s moral psychology, his account of action, his naturalistic commitments, and the way in which these topics interact with his critique of traditional morality. While Williams’ pronouncements on these topics are brief and at times (...)
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  13. The Relevance of History for Moral Philosophy: A Study of Nietzsche's Genealogy.Paul Katsafanas - 2011 - In Simon May (ed.), Nietzsche's 'On the Genealogy of Morality': A Critical Guide. Cambridge University Press.
    The Genealogy takes a historical form. But does the history play an essential role in Nietzsche's critique of modern morality? In this essay, I argue that the answer is yes. The Genealogy employs history in order to show that acceptance of modern morality was causally responsible for producing a dramatic change in our affects, drives, and perceptions. This change led agents to perceive actual increases in power as reductions in power, and actual decreases in power as increases in power. Moreover, (...)
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  14.  78
    Fugitive Pleasure and the Meaningful Life: Nietzsche on Nihilism and Higher Values.Paul Katsafanas - 2015 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1 (3):396--416.
    Nietzsche’s discussions of nihilism are meant to bring into view an intriguing pathology of modern culture: that it is unable to sustain "higher values". This paper attempts to make sense of the nature and import of higher values. Higher values are a subset of final values. They are distinguished by their demandingness, susceptibility toward creating tragic conflicts, recruitment of a characteristic set of powerful emotions, perceived import, exclusionary nature, and their tendency to instantiate a community. The paper considers Nietzsche’s arguments (...)
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  15. Nietzsche on Agency and Self-Ignorance.Paul Katsafanas - 2012 - Journal of Nietzsche Studies 43 (1):5-17.
    Nietzsche frequently claims that agents are in some sense ignorant of their own actions. In this conference paper, I ask two questions: what exactly does Nietzsche mean by this claim, and how would the truth of this claim affect philosophical models of agency? I argue that Nietzsche's claim about self-ignorance is intended to draw attention to the fact that there are influences upon reflective episodes of choice that have three features. First, these influences are pervasive, occurring in every episode of (...)
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  16. Activity and Passivity in Reflective Agency.Paul Katsafanas - 2011 - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics Volume 6. Oxford University Press. pp. 219.
    Lately, a number of philosophers have argued that agents can be more and less active in the production of their own actions. Some actions—principally reflective, deliberative ones—are said to involve agential activity; other actions—principally unreflective, non-deliberative ones—are said to be brought about in a more passive fashion. In this essay, I critique these claims. I show that philosophers employing the notion of agential activity have relied on one or more of the following claims, which have not been clearly distinguished in (...)
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  17.  12
    Nietzsche on Ethics and Politics.Paul Katsafanas - 2016 - Philosophical Review 125 (4):592-597.
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  18. 4. Kant and Nietzsche on Self-Knowledge.Paul Katsafanas - 2015 - In Bartholomew Ryan, Maria Joao Mayer Branco & João Constancio (eds.), Nietzsche and the Problem of Subjectivity. De Gruyter. pp. 110-130.
    Kant recognizes two distinct forms of self-knowledge: introspection, which gives us knowledge of our sensations, and apperception, which is knowledge of our own activities. Both modes of self-knowledge can go astray, and are particularly prone to being distorted be selfish motives; thus, neither is guaranteed to provide us with comprehensive self-knowledge. Nietzsche departs from Kant in arguing that these two modes of self-knowledge (1) are not distinct and (2) are far more limited than Kant acknowledges. In addition, Nietzsche departs from (...)
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  19.  2
    Constitutivism.Paul Katsafanas - forthcoming - In Iain Thomson & Kelly Becker (eds.), he Cambridge History of Philosophy, 1945-2015. Cambridge University Press.
    A brief explanation and overview of constitutivism.
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  20.  2
    "The Antichrist" as a Guide to Nietzsche's Mature Ethical Theory.Paul Katsafanas - forthcoming - In Routledge Philosophical Minds: The Nietzschean Mind. Routledge.
    I argue that the rarely discussed Antichrist can serve as perhaps the best guide to Nietzsche’s mature ethical theory. Commentators often argue or assume that while Nietzsche makes many critical points about traditional morality, he cannot be offering a positive ethical theory of his own. This, I argue, is a mistake. The Antichrist offers a substantive ethical theory. It explicitly articulates Nietzsche’s positive ethical principles, shows why these principles are justified, and uses them to condemn traditional Christian morality. The chapter (...)
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  21.  80
    Review of Maudemarie Clark and David Dudrick, The Soul of Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil. [REVIEW]Paul Katsafanas - 2014 - Journal of Nietzsche Studies 45:1-11.
    This is a contribution to a symposium on Clark and Dudrick’s The Soul of Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. I focus on three aspects of their book. First, I critique Clark and Dudrick’s claim that Nietzsche recognizes a discrete “will to value.” Second, I argue that Clark and Dudrick’s reading of Nietzschean drives (Triebe) as homunculi is indefensible. Third, I raise questions about their claim that Nietzsche understands the self as a “normative ordering” of drives, which they distinguish from a (...)
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  22. The Problem of Normative Authority in Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche.Paul Katsafanas - 2017 - In Tom Bailey & João Constâncio (eds.), Nietzsche’s Engagements with Kant, Volume I: Ethics. Bloomsbury.
    Kant and Hegel share a common foundational idea: they believe that the authority of normative claims can be justified only by showing that these norms are self-imposed or autonomous. Yet they develop this idea in strikingly different ways: Kant argues that we can derive specific normative claims from the formal idea of autonomy, whereas Hegel contends that we use the idea of freedom not to derive, but to assess, the specific normative claims ensconced in our social institutions and practices. Exploring (...)
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  23.  64
    Beyond Selflessness: Reading Nietzsche's 'Genealogy', by Christopher Janaway. [REVIEW]Paul Katsafanas - 2013 - Mind 122 (486):fzt069.
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  24.  72
    Philosophical Psychology as a Basis for Ethics.Paul Katsafanas - 2013 - Journal of Nietzsche Studies 44 (2):297-314.
    Near the beginning of Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche writes that “psychology is once again the path to the fundamental problems” (BGE 23). This raises a number of questions. What are these “fundamental problems” that psychology helps us to answer? How exactly does psychology bear on philosophy? In this conference paper, I provide a partial answer to these questions by focusing upon the way in which psychology informs Nietzsche’s account of value. I argue that Nietzsche’s ethical theory is based upon (...)
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  25.  70
    Value, Affect, and Drive.Paul Katsafanas - 2016 - In Peter Kail & Manuel Dries (eds.), Nietzsche on Mind and Nature. Oxford University Press.
    Nietzsche associates values with affects and drives: he not only claims that values are explained by drives and affects, but sometimes appears to identify values with drives and affects. This is decidedly odd: the agent's reflectively endorsed ends, principles, commitments--what we would think of as the agent's values--seem not only distinct from, but often in conflict with, the agent's drives. Consequently, it is unclear how we should understand Nietzsche's concept of value. This essay attempts to dispel these puzzles by reconstructing (...)
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  26.  39
    Ethical Thought in the Nineteenth Century.Paul Katsafanas - 2015 - In Michael Forster & Kristin Gjesdal (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Nineteenth-Century German Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
    At the close of the eighteenth century, Kant attempts to anchor morality in freedom. A series of nineteenth-century thinkers, though impressed with the claim that there is an essential connection between morality and freedom, argue that Kant has misunderstood the nature of the self, agency, freedom, the individual, the social, the natural sciences, and philosophical psychology. I trace the way in which a series of central figures rethink the connection between morality and freedom by complicating the analyses of the aforementioned (...)
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  27.  43
    Review: Brian Leiter and Neil Sinhababu: Nietzsche and Morality. [REVIEW]Paul Katsafanas - 2009 - Mind 118 (469):191-194.
  28.  19
    On Homuncular Drives and the Structure of the Nietzschean Self.Paul Katsafanas - 2014 - Journal of Nietzsche Studies 45 (1):1-11.
    If Clark and Dudrick have their way, gone will be the days of breezy writings on Nietzsche that recruit a phrase from here, a paragraph from there, and construct an interpretation from the resultant mélange. Clark and Dudrick advocate a meticulous, line-by-line study of Nietzsche’s text, with painstaking attention not only to the broader context of his claims, but even to the precise intent of the images and metaphors that he employs. Here, we find a level of textual scrutiny and (...)
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  29.  11
    Review of Craig Dove, Nietzsche's Ethical Theory: Mind, Self and Responsibility[REVIEW]Paul Katsafanas - 2009 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (5).
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  30.  5
    Nietzsche, Naturalism, and Normativity, Edited by ChristopherJanaway and SimonRobertson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, Ix + 262 Pp. ISBN 978-0-19-958367-6 Hb $75.00. [REVIEW]Paul Katsafanas - 2013 - European Journal of Philosophy 21:e9-e14.
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  31.  87
    Agency and the Foundations of Ethics: Nietzschean Constitutivism.Paul Katsafanas - 2013 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Paul Katsafanas explores how we can justify normative claims such as 'murder is wrong'. He defends an original account of constitutivism--the view that we do so by showing that agents become committed to them in virtue of acting--and resolves philosophical puzzles about the metaphysics, epistemology, and practical grip of normative claims.
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  32. Nietzschean Approaches to Hermeneutics.Paul Katsafanas - forthcoming - In Michael Förster & Kristin Gjesdal (eds.), Cambridge Companion to Hermeneutics. Cambridge University Press.
    This essay charts several key points of contact between Nietzsche and the hermeneutical tradition. It begins by arguing that the familiar claim that Nietzsche offers a hermeneutics of suspicion is potentially misleading. Seeking a more accurate representation of Nietzsche’s views, the essay argues that Nietzsche’s interpretive stance has several key features: he rejects immediate givens, endorses holism and perspectivism, and sees conscious experience as structured by concepts and language. Methodologically, Nietzsche inaugurates a genealogical approach to studying objects of philosophical concern, (...)
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  33. Routledge Philosophical Minds: The Nietzschean Mind.Paul Katsafanas (ed.) - forthcoming - Routledge.
    28 essays on all aspects of Nietzsche's thought. The attached file contains the introduction and table of contents.
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  34. The Nietzschean Self: Moral Psychology, Agency, and the Unconscious.Paul Katsafanas - 2016 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Paul Katsafanas presents a clear, systematic study of Nietzsche's moral psychology. He analyzes Nietzsche's distinction between conscious and unconscious mental events, explains the nature of a type of motivational state that Nietzsche calls the 'drive', and examines the connection between drives, desires, affects, and values. He explores Nietzsche's account of willing unity of the self, freedom, and the relation of the self to its social and historical context. And he argues that Nietzsche's account enjoys a number of advantages over the (...)
     
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