Is William of Ockham’s Ethics Voluntaristic?
Keywords:Ockham, Moral voluntarism, Natural reason, Natural law
This paper holds that Ockham’s theological and philosophical conceptualism leads to moral voluntarism. To this end, the paper examines the meaning of following “the dictates of right reason” in the context of Ockhamist thought. This task requires investigating: (a) the meaning of the Ockhamist notion of the “good”; (b) the relationships between divine law and natural reason, on the one hand, and between divine Will and divine Wisdom, on the other; (c) the object of moral knowledge; and (d) the contingency both of concrete moral norms and of the most basic principles of morality. The thesis is dialectically held, in discussion with some of the main English speaking interpreters of Ockham who, from the perspective of the history of Law, Ethics and Theology have held that Ockham’s conceptualism does not lead to moral voluntarism.