Nietzsche proclaims the second essay of the Genealogy of Morality (GM II) to be the “long history of the origins of responsibility,” but the immediate context in which this claim is made, coupled with GM II's broader aims and themes, makes interpreting this claim immensely difficult. Not only does Nietzsche endorse an ideal of responsibility in relation to the sovereign individual, while the rest of the essay is concerned with other topics, but also, and more problematically, this ideal appears to be inconsistent with his denial of free will and moral responsibility in other works. Here, I propose a Strawsonian reading of GM II, contending that GM II analyzes the idea of “responsibility” naturalistically in terms of the practice of holding oneself and others responsible, as constituted by what Nietzsche calls the “reactive affects,” namely guilt. A consequence of this interpretation is that libertarian free will is not a condition of responsible agency.

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