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Related to voluntarism: voluntaryism


any theory predicated on the assumption that individual purposes, choice, decisions, etc. are a decisive element in social action. The polar opposite of voluntarism is DETERMINISM. However, often in sociology there is an acceptance that it is appropriate for theories to include both voluntaristic and deterministic elements, e.g. structural determinants which constrain but do not necessarily eliminate choice. Talcott PARSONS (1937), for example, refers to his theory of action as ‘voluntaristic’, in that it includes reference to 'subjective’ elements and individual ‘moral’ choice. But this does not preclude him from advancing accounts of universal FUNCTIONAL PREREQUISITES. See also ACTION THEORY, STRUCTURE AND AGENCY, METHODOLOGICAL INDIVIDUALISM, FREE WILL.



(a term introduced by F. Tonnies in 1883), an idealist movement in philosophy that believes will to be the highest principle of being. In giving will first place in spiritual being, voluntarism stands in opposition to intellectualism (or rationalism), that is, to idealist philosophical systems that consider intellect and reason to be the basis of that which exists.

Elements of voluntarism can be found as early as the philosophy of Augustine, who saw in will the basis of all other spiritual processes, and in the philosophy of Duns Scotus, with his emphasis on the primacy of will over intellect (voluntas est superior intellectu, “will is higher than thought”). A premise of the new voluntarism was I. Kant’s doctrine of the primacy of practical reason. According to Kant, although the existence of free will can be neither proved nor refuted theoretically, practical reason demands that we postulate freedom of will, for otherwise moral law would lose all meaning. Proceeding from this, J. G. Fichte saw in will the basis of personality and in the exercising of will by the ego the absolute creative principle of being, the source of the spiritual self-generation of the world. Moreover, in Fichte (as in Kant and the later exponents of German classical philosophy F. W. Schelling and G. Hegel) will is rational by its nature and the source of realization of the moral principle. In contrast A. Schopenhauer, in whose philosophy voluntarism first takes shape as an independent current, gives an irrationalist interpretation of will as the blind, nonrational, purposeless first principle of the world. Schopenhauer construes the Kantian thing-in-itself as will, appearing on various levels of objectification. Schopenhauer regarded consciousness and intellect as being one of the secondary manifestations of will. For Schopenhauer, as for E. Hartmann, voluntarism is closely connected with pessimism and the conception of the senselessness of the world process, whose source is unconscious and blind will. The voluntaristic ideas of Schopenhauer were one of the sources of the philosophy of F. Nietzsche.

The term “voluntarism” is also used to characterize social and political practices that do not take into consideration the objective laws of the historical process and are guided by the subjective desires and arbitrary decisions of those in control.


Engels, F.Anti-Dühing. Moscow, 1969. Pages 111-12.
Knauer, R. Der Voluntarismus. Berlin, 1907.
Marcus, J. Intellektualismus und Voluntarismus in der modernen Philosophic. Düsseldorf, 1918.
References in periodicals archive ?
Andre Carus argues for a third point of connection, via Carnap's voluntarism. Price notes two reasons for thinking that this connection is not as close as Carus contends.
In the process, voluntarism broke all records, riding on the easy-to-use donations portal linked to the CMDRF.
Seguerra said the meeting, which was attended by 37 Filipino participants, focused on competence and resilience of climate arrangement, entrepreneurship, employment, Asean awareness and education, nad youth voluntarism, among others.
Deep ecology's radical (3) normative project of promoting holism and concomitant ethic of moral voluntarism in the 1970s --'a philosophy of ecological harmony or equilibrium' (Naess, 1973: 100) supported by an 'ecological consciousness' (Devall and Sessions, 1985: 65) and based on 'idiosyncratic self-realisation' (Naess, 1993: 204) and 'non-conformity' (Leopold 1966[1949]: 187, see also Hay, 2002; Snyder, 1990)--has ironically, (4) in recent years been taken up by some very influential corporate and policy advocacy groups.
Create the right opportunities: Continuing education through voluntarism is an effective way to keep employees engaged and challenged.
In addition, it includes detailed critiques of natural law theory and theological voluntarism (e.g., divine command theory).
The program also aims to inculcate in the hearts and minds of young Filipinos the importance of solidarity in pursuing social reforms through voluntarism.
Kinda al-Shammat stressed the necessity of enhancing a culture of voluntarism in society and invigorating cultural, touristic and environmental associations for their important social role.
He also rejected accusations of arbitrariness, voluntarism, and populism.
I purposely focused on the issue of voluntarism. Specifically, I tried to show that certain papal encyclicals from Leo XIII through John Paul II supported, on grounds of freedom of association, the formation of trade unions among consenting adults in the absence of force and fraud.
Meeting with mostly representatives of foreign media outlets in ystanbul, YeE-il emphasized the principles of the Hizmet movement inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah GE-len, such as voluntarism, independence from the state and civility, while arguing that the AK Party has set aside concerns for further democratization.
In Chapter 2 this argument is explained as giving us two famous "horns": If God is the ground of moral obligation, then some form of theological voluntarism seems to be true.