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On What MattersVolume Two$
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Derek Parfit

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199572816

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199572816.001.0001

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(p.570) 35 Nietzsche
On What Matters

Samuel Scheffler

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the normative beliefs of Friedrich Nietzsche. Although we nearly all believe in the double badness of suffering, that does not answer the Argument from Disagreement, since there are other normative questions on which many people have conflicting beliefs. We can justifiably reject this argument if we can justifiably believe that, in ideal conditions, we would nearly all reach sufficient agreement. According to the Convergence Claim: If everyone knew all of the relevant non-normative facts, used the same normative concepts, understood and carefully reflected on the relevant arguments, and was not affected by any distorting influence, we would have similar normative beliefs. This chapter examines Nietzsche's thinking about good and evil and the meaning of life. More specifically, it argues that Nietzsche's main questions were not about what we ought to do, or what is good or bad, but about why humanity exists, and whether the answer can give meaning to our lives. Since Nietzsche's normative concepts were not reason-involving, but imperatival or command-implying, his attempt to avoid Nihilism failed.

Keywords:   normative beliefs, Friedrich Nietzsche, double badness of suffering, Argument from Disagreement, Convergence Claim, good and evil, meaning of life, humanity, Nihilism

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