Abstract

Abstract:

In this article, I examine Nietzsche’s famous claim that moralities are a “sign-language” or “symptomatology” of the affective states of moral agents. I sketch out the sentimentalist interpretation of this claim, which has become prevalent in the scholarly literature, and argue that it cannot be correct. The relation it posits between values and the affects that explain them displays certain distinctive characteristics—noncontingency, expressive transparency, and specificity—which the relation between affects and values Nietzsche envisages in the examples that illustrate his claim ostensibly lacks. I argue that the relation between affects and values is better understood as functional, rather than expressive: he explains moral judgments by showing how they serve certain emotional needs of the agent. Thus, Nietzsche’s claim is better understood as articulating a kind of sentimental pragmatism. I conclude with some brief thoughts on the relation between this pragmatism and sentimentalism.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4594
Print ISSN
0968-8005
Pages
pp. 185-208
Launched on MUSE
2021-11-23
Open Access
No
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