In some texts Nietzsche vehemently denies the possibility of free will; in others he seems to positively countenance its existence. This paper distinguishes two different notions of free will. Agency free will is intrinsically tied to the question of agency, what constitutes an action as opposed to a mere doing. Deserts free will is intrinsically tied to the question of desert, of who does and does not merit punishment and reward. It is shown that we can render Nietzsche's prima facie conflicting assertions regarding free will compatible by interpreting him as rejecting deserts free will while accepting the possibility of agency free will. It is argued that Nietzsche's advances an original form of compatibilism which takes agency free will to be a rare achievement rather than a natural endowment.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Birkbeck College, London
Publication date: 2006-06-01