Honors Program

Honors in Philosophy

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Allen Coates

Thesis Professor Department

Philosophy and Humanities

Thesis Reader(s)

Leslie MacAvoy William Douglas Burgess Jr.


This work examines how values seem to be contingent on various factors which affect their growth and development. This study is based around the ethical writings of Friedrich Nietzsche. Specifically, On the Genealogy of Morals serves as the foundation for my thesis. This book contains three essays which purport to show how moral values originated as a result of certain human phenomena rather than, as many people take for granted, from moral “truths.” This contribution to ethics is important because it leaves many questions regarding the value of morality untouched. In the Genealogy, there are numerous themes of Nietzsche’s philosophy which are important to note such as anti-realism and naturalism. However, one of the difficulties of reading Nietzsche is that his writing has been misinterpreted, and it can be difficult to reach a consensus on how to properly understand his meanings. In the paper, I argue that to properly interpret Nietzsche one must recognize that his Genealogy serves two purposes: 1) to shake our faith in morality as “given” or “factual;” and 2) to provide us reasons that moral values might have detrimental effects on human flourishing. To fully appreciate these aspects of the Genealogy, I argue that the historical form of the text is a crucial component which cannot be ignored. Ultimately, if Nietzsche is successful in demonstrating these factors, then it will be shown that morality is contingent upon a plethora of historical factors.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Copyright by the authors.