Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Humanities, PhD

Committee Chair

Gibson, John

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Hall, Ann

Committee Member

Hall, Ann

Committee Member

Angermann, Asaf

Committee Member

Adams, Vincent Joshua

Author's Keywords

Nietzsche; virtue ethics; blade runner; ex machina; existentialism; transhumanism


In this dissertation, I will argue that there is a specific model of morality which can account for the intuition about moral features that we take to be intrinsic to the human type. This model of morality is that of Virtue Ethics, but not a conventional kind of Virtue Ethics. Instead, I will argue that the moral philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche presents a model of cultivating narrative types that we take to be grounded in the kinds of beings we are, without resorting to any problematic metaphysical systems. This will require that I defend a novel interpretation of Nietzsche’s ethics – a debate which is ongoing. In the first chapter of the dissertation, I will argue that Nietzsche’s valuations can be reconciled with his attacks on conventional ethical systems, and that his value claims can best be understood with reference to his aesthetic views. In the second chapter, I will explore the specific details of Nietzsche’s broad attacks on ethical systems, and then defend his subsequent value claims as analogous to a unique kind of virtue theory. In articulating how this kind of virtue theory functions, I will also propose that this is how we arrive at our moral conception of the human narrative. In the final chapter of this dissertation, I will draw from specific examples of science fiction narratives to elaborate two specific views of the genre-specific trope of the “artificial human being.” In exploration of this trope, I find that our intuitions of the moral human are affirmed in our narrative fascination with ontological types, and also that there are under-explored implications of how these narratives are developed.