A Defense of Strong Voluntarism

American Philosophical Quarterly 35 (3):251-265 (1998)
Critics of liberalism in the past two decades have argued that the fact that we are necessarily "situated" or "embedded" means that we can not always choose our own ends (for example, our conceptions of the good or our loyalties to others). Some suggest that we simply discover ourselves with these "connections." If correct, this would argue against (Rawlsian) hypothetical contract models and liberalism more broadly, make true impartiality impossible, and give support to traditionalist views like those of Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, and Michael Sandel. These same critics argue that liberalism's rejection or neglect of this supposed fact of our moral life has pernicious anti-social affects. I argue that the critics are wrong in both cases, defending what I call "strong voluntarism." In contrast both to recent critics of liberalism and the dominant trend in recent liberal thought, my defense of strong voluntarism allows that we can always choose to accept or reject any end we happen to have but that this does not lead to any pernicious anti-social effects.
Keywords voluntarism  autonomy  liberalism  communitarianism
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 25,651
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Liberalism, Communitarianism, and Asocialism.Andrew J. Cohen - 2000 - Journal of Value Inquiry 34 (2/3):249-261.
Deciding to Believe Again.Keith Frankish - 2007 - Mind 116 (463):523 - 547.
Doxastic Voluntarism: A Sceptical Defence.Danny Frederick - 2013 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 3 (1):24-44.
Communitarianism 'Social Constitution,' and Autonomy.Andrew Jason Cohen - 1999 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 80 (2):121–135.
Defending Liberalism Against the Anomie Challenge.Andrew J. Cohen - 2004 - Social Theory and Practice 30 (3):391-427.
Descartes and the Question of Direct Doxastic Voluntarism.Rico Vitz - 2010 - Journal of Philosophical Research 35:107-21.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

33 ( #149,071 of 2,143,563 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #386,855 of 2,143,563 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums