Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Jessica N. Berry

Second Advisor

Andrew J. Cohen

Third Advisor

Eddy Nahmias


There is an apparent disagreement between recent commentators who find in Nietzsche both a constructive philosophy and a compatibilist account of freedom, and Brian Leiter’s reading that rejects both. The reason for this disagreement, I argue, is that Leiter’s “illiberal” view is limited in scope to Nietzsche’s critical philosophy, while Nietzsche also has a constructive philosophy aimed at select readers. I read Nietzsche’s critical philosophy as targeting the metaphysical entities that underpin asceticism and herd values, not the mental states and processes with which these entities are associated. The “no such entity” reading preserves the resources needed to read Nietzsche as offering a replacement for the ascetic ideal—and an alternative source for life’s meaning. Although few of his readers will have been born with the drives needed to throw off herd values and enjoy compatibilist freedom, these readers are the intended audience for Nietzsche’s constructive philosophy.