Date of Award

Fall 12-14-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Jessica Berry

Second Advisor

Dr. Eddy Nahmias

Third Advisor

Dr. Andrew Altman


Brian Leiter is one of the few Nietzsche interpreters who argue that Nietzsche rejects all forms of free will. Leiter argues that Nietzsche is an incompatibilist and rejects libertarian free will. He further argues that since Nietzsche is an epiphenomenalist about conscious willing, his philosophy of action cannot support any conception of free will. Leiter also offers deflationary readings of those passages where Nietzsche seemingly ascribes free will to historical figures or types. In this paper I argue against all of these conclusions. In the first section I show that, on the most charitable interpretation, Nietzsche is not an epiphenomenalist. In the second section I trace Nietzsche’s alleged incompatibilism through three of his works and offer reasons to be skeptical of the claim that Nietzsche was a committed incompatibilist. Finally, I argue that Nietzsche is not being sarcastic or unacceptably revisionary when he makes positive ascriptions of free will.

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Philosophy Commons