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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-K110-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

Article Summary

Voluntarism is a theory of action. It traces our actions less to our intellects and natural inclinations than to simple will or free choice. Applied to thinking about God’s actions, voluntarism led late medieval philosophers to see the world’s causal and moral orders as finally rooted in God’s sheer free choice, and to take God’s commands as the source of moral obligation. Medieval voluntarism helped pave the way for empiricism, Cartesian doubt about the senses, legal positivism and Reformation theology.

Citing this article:
Leftow, Brian. Voluntarism, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-K110-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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