Defining Voluntarism

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In the reading of The Sources of Normativity, Christine Korsgaard discusses four basic theories for the justification of morality: Voluntarism, Realism, Reflective Endorsement, and the Appeal to Autonomy. For the purpose of this essay, I will be defining Voluntarism, outlining the argument that Korsgaard presents for Voluntarism, and explain her criticism for why it fails. First of all, let me start off by defining the meaning of Voluntarism. Voluntarism is the theory that God or the ultimate nature of reality is to be conceived as some form of will (or conation). This theory is contrasted to intellectualism, which gives primacy to God’s reason. (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy) The will, as referred to in the previous context can be defined as the authority or higher power that creates a purpose or intention and makes decisions and choices.

Voluntarism according to Christine Korsgaard is the theory that “moral obligation derives from the command of someone who has legitimate authority over the moral agent and so can make laws for her” (24). The moral agent can be described as someone or something that is capable of right or wrong actions. So in regards to the quote above, when it comes to morality, will precede one’s own intellect. This account of the source of normativity explains that there can be reasons for the law but it is the fact that there is a law that creates the obligation. Voluntarism explains normativity in a way that since we, as moral beings, are subdued to laws including of which are moral in nature, so we are, therefore, subject to the makers of the law.

Korsgaard argues that the will to want to obey the law is dependent upon the reasons that cause us to obey laws in the first place...

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...ty. Ignoring this obligation can be bad to a business no matter how you look at it. The business becomes valuable when it can uphold social responsibilities while at the same time maximizing profits. Man made the business, business did not make the man, therefore we must rule and reign over it responsibly.

Works Cited

Ciulla, Joanne B., Clancy W. Martin, and Robert C. Solomon. Honest Work: a Business Ethics Reader. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2011. Print.

Korsgaard, Christine M. The Sources of Normativity. Clare Hall, Cambridge University: The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, 16-17 Nov. 1992. PDF.

O'Neill, Onora. A Simplified Account of Kant's Ethics. McGraw-Hill Publishing, 1986. PDF.

"Voluntarism [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 28 Aug. 2004. Web. 22 Oct. 2011. .
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