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1. in psychology, the view that human behaviors are, at least in part, the result of the exercise of volition. See also free will.

2. the general position that will and choice are important factors in all human activities. For example, in ethics, voluntarism emphasizes that commitment to any moral principle is, in large part, a “will to believe,” over which the person has some control. In epistemology, the same is held to be true of knowledge. In the field of historical studies, voluntarism holds that the exercise of will has been a major factor in the course of human events. It is therefore opposed to such approaches as Marxism, which emphasizes the role of impersonal economic forces.

3. in metaphysics, the position that will, rather than mind, spirit, or some other substance, is the basis of reality. The best known philosophy of this kind is that of Arthur Schopenhauer.

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Psychology term of the day

June 19th 2024



n. in infants, lack of psychomotor response or failure to gain weight or produce purposeful behavior, often thought to be a response to separation from mothers and subsequent institutionalization. See also reactive attachment disorder.