Agency and the Foundations of Ethics: Nietzschean Constitutivism
Oxford University Press, 2013. (Paperback edition 2015)
Oxford University Press Amazon
Constitutivism is the view that we can derive substantive normative conclusions from an account of the nature of action. Agency and the Foundations of Ethics explains the constitutivist strategy and argues that the attractions of this view are considerable: constitutivism promises to resolve longstanding philosophical puzzles about the metaphysics, epistemology, and practical grip of normative claims. Yet constitutivism faces a challenge: it must employ a conception of action that is minimal enough to be independently plausible, but substantial enough to yield robust normative results. The current versions of constitutivism fall short on this score. However, we can generate a successful version by employing a more nuanced theory of action. Drawing on recent empirical work on human motivation as well as a model of agency indebted to the work of Nietzsche, the book argues that every episode of action aims jointly at agential activity and power. An agent manifests agential activity if she approves of her action, and further knowledge of the motives figuring in the etiology of her action would not undermine this approval. An agent aims at power if she aims at encountering and overcoming obstacles or resistances in the course of pursuing other, more determinate ends. These structural features of agency both constitute events as actions and generate standards of assessment for action. Using these results, the book shows that we can extract substantive normative claims from facts about the nature of agency.
The Nietzschean Self: Moral Psychology, Agency, and the Unconscious
Oxford University Press, 2016
(Paperback edition 2019)
Oxford University Press Amazon
Nietzsche's works are replete with discussions of moral psychology, but to date there has been no systematic analysis of his account. How does Nietzsche understand human motivation, deliberation, agency, and selfhood? How does his account of the unconscious inform these topics? What is Nietzsche's conception of freedom, and how do we become free? Should freedom be a goal for all of us? How does--and how should--the individual relate to his social context? The Nietzschean Self offers a clear, comprehensive analysis of these central topics in Nietzsche's moral psychology. It analyzes his 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. It explores Nietzsche's account of willing unity of the self, freedom, and the relation of the self to its social and historical context. The Nietzschean Self argues that Nietzsche's account enjoys a number of advantages over the currently dominant models of moral psychology--especially those indebted to the work of Aristotle, Hume, and Kant--and considers the ways in which Nietzsche's arguments can reconfigure and improve upon debates in the contemporary literature on moral psychology and philosophy of action.
The Nietzschean Mind
edited by Paul Katsafanas
Table of Contents
Routledge Press Amazon
This edited volume contains 28 original essays on the following topics: Nietzsche's major works; philosophical psychology and agency; the self; value; culture, society, and politics; metaphysics and epistemology; and the affirmation of life.