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Voluntarism is a position in psychological and social theory that regards individual thought and will, as well as the possibilites for successful action in politics, culture, society, etc. as being relatively unconstrained by factors external to the individual or to the group engaging in action. Thus in relation to the free-will versus determinism debate in philosophy it affirms the existence of free will and denies strict determinism. It sees historical leaders as having had a wide range of choice and being relatively unconstrained by material factors such as the technological and economic characteristics of their countries.[1]

The term is also used in a different sense in philosophy to denote systems that assign a dominant epitemological role to the will, in particular asserting that a person's thoughts and ideas serve and are determined by her will.[2]


  1. Leopold Labedz, "Voluntarism", in The Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought (1977: 1983).
  2. Anthony Quinton, "Voluntarism", in The Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought (1977: 1983).