Title

Conscience and command: ethical voluntarism in John Duns Scotus, William of Ockham, and Karl Barth

Document Type

Presentation

Publication Date

12-1-2016

Abstract

"Voluntarism" has become a dirty word in theological circles, with some arguing that it is responsible for everything that is wrong in modernity—from the consumerist excesses of the shopping mall to the political ambitions of Donald Trump. Yet voluntarism is multivalent, and its conflation into an expression of theological opprobrium precludes the possibilities that it offers for moral theology today. By comparing and contrasting three examples of ethical voluntarism—two from the late medieval period and one from the late modern—this presentation enables us to listen to such possibilities once again. Focusing on what these three theologians have to say about the faculty of conscience, we ask (and consider answers to) the question: To whom does the conscience belong? Or, put another way: Whose voice is it?

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