Aristotle on Voluntary Action Term Paper

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voluntary action-ARISTOTLE

The action made by an individual has some definite impact on the society, the generated impact can be observed instantly, or it may become evident with the passage of time. Before getting into the understanding of what impact can an action generate on the society, the question persists what causes an individual to commit that action. Looking into our society, can we our justify for the ongoing scientific evolution taking place, is it our requirement, or is it a kind of service being offered by selected group of people. Sometimes actions are made without any intentions or plans, in these cases the consequences are unexpected. However the planned actions definitely have some motives and the consequences can be productive, non-productive and destructive depending upon the circumstances.

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For centuries, philosophers and scientists have been contributing towards offering physical and mental benefits to the society, though in some cases the return was expected, however most of those actions were on voluntarily grounds that can be termed as revolutionary. Such actions are mainly targeted, and are sequential. It was the invention of earlier communication devices that led to the advent of Internet, similarly it was the presence of economic activities that evolved new economic laws and policies, and it was the social disorder ness and social non-homogeneity which brought up philosophers for revolutionary thoughts. The philosophers have then been signifying the importance of social and moral responsibilities for the social welfare, the society gets adapted to such responsibilities with reluctance but it's the impact then observed which turn the society committed towards those values in haste.

Term Paper on Aristotle on Voluntary Action Assignment

For every action there has to be some purpose, whether it's individual or social welfare. But however there are some cases when actions are purposeless, these actions are mainly committed unintentionally and are situation dependent. These actions are hardly appreciated because the general observation suggests that these actions are subjected to high criticism and high level of scrutiny. Because the actions are made without any clear motives, therefore the consequences aren't productive, forever exceptions are always there.

Every activity has an objective associated with itself, in case of committing yourself for any action, the objective has to be decided, and such an objective should withstand the moral responsibility and should comply by the social ethics. Moral responsibility is the broad term that incorporates the element of happiness, care, concern and perseverance of emotional feelings. The important of all is providing sense of happiness, and in race of achieving and providing it, sense of responsibility has to be shielded by moral values.


Aristotle emphasizes over the importance of ethical behavior, which is viewed as fundamental towards the social progress of the society, he also discusses the ability of an individual to recognize the possible and most appropriate course of action towards the enhancement of society, keeping in mind the adherence to moral responsibility. Aristotle claims that every independent action must to be a source of happiness for society, rather than for self. Committing action for the sake of self-happiness reflects the introvert characteristic of an individual, and Aristotle highlights the need for compromising over the self for achieving happiness for others. Aristotle's ethics is often called 'teleological or goal-directed'(Wikipedia). The goal of the Ethics is to determine how best to achieve happiness, and the conduct itself the major criterion towards achieving it.

Sense of happiness is itself variable, it depends much on the living in accordance with proper virtues, and it is these virtues which shape the actions of an individual. Virtue itself isn't an action, and it encourages an individual to behave in the right ways and for right reasons, and feel pleasure in doing so. The actions therefore committed are predominantly the function of virtuous characteristic of an individual. The classified actions; i.e. voluntary actions and involuntary actions are expected outcome of virtuous behavior, another category of actions i.e. Non-voluntary is independent of virtues.

Virtuous character is although self-motivated, but society also influences its grooming affluently. Virtuous character is partially self-motivated, and involves attributes of honesty, sincerity, commitment, and devotion.


Actions that are self originated, and are not influenced by any external factor. Voluntary action is evaluated the basis of the parameter of happiness. However there are cases when an individual behaves in dishonorable manner. Voluntary action is characterized by the options and rational deliberation, where the individual decides the optimized nature of an action for achieving desired results. Voluntary actions are the dependent function of moral virtues, according to Aristotle, 'moral virtues dispose us to behave in the correct manner', the moral virtues also nourish the intellectual values which further helps in adoption of proper course of action.

Aristotle believe that, "Virtue however is concerned with emotions and actions, and it is only voluntary feelings and actions for which praise and blame are given; those that are involuntary are condoned, and sometimes even pitied." (Nicomachean Ethics).

The need for differentiating between both the course of action is evident, voluntary actions are praised and blamed, depending upon the consequences. However the involuntary actions irrespective of the consequences are never appreciated, and are always criticized.

Aristotle further defines involuntary action as, 'A man who has acted through ignorance, then, if he is sorry afterwards, is held to have done the deed involuntarily or unwillingly' (Nicomachean Ethics).

Both voluntary and involuntary actions are treated similarly if the consequences of both such actions are destructive, however if the former is constructive the action is then lauded, however the latter hardly gets appreciated for its good results.

Both the voluntary and involuntary actions are differentiated on the grounds of ignorance, it's the ignorance for which the individual committing an constructive involuntary action gets no response, the reason because his/her action is considered as an occurrence by chance.

It is the human nature to condemn more enthusiastically and appreciating, it is a common observation to get easily praised or appreciated. A constructive involuntary action in no ways appreciable response, however if the consequences of the involuntary moves are destructive, the doer gets bitterly criticized, not much because of his flaw of ignorance, but it is human psychology to condemn sharply.


After the incident of 11th Sept i.e. Terrorist attack on World Trade Center, the American people volunteered and donated all their livings and utilities for the victims and wounded. Such an act was purely voluntary, the government did not formally request the aid, and Americans themselves took the bold initiative and volunteered. The people aided and supported, and worked together for the removal of debris, care of patients, gathering information about dislocated individuals. The services of Americans was itself an obligation, what they did was their social responsibility, and it was the virtuous character that made them realize their moral responsibility and these volunteer acted swiftly to fulfill responsibility and achieve national harmony.

Another example of such voluntary action is the approach with which the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) works, they work voluntary without any greed, and such organizations realize their moral responsibility towards the society and public. Such NGOs are supported by innumerable donors throughout the world, and it's the realization of the mental and social responsibilities on their part which brings immense monetary funds to the NGOs, that are later imparted among the needy.

There have been instances where individual volunteered, but it was lack of complete information that made their voluntary move subjected to strong criticism and scrutiny. It was reported in the newspaper (Ohio News), that an individual in State of Ohio was an individual was reported to have provided accommodation to one of the suspected terrorist, the individual insisted that he provided accommodation to that suspect on the grounds that he required space for living, the individual admitted that he was partly unfamiliar with the suspect, and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Aristotle on Voluntary Action" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Aristotle on Voluntary Action.  (2006, November 9).  Retrieved March 4, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Aristotle on Voluntary Action."  9 November 2006.  Web.  4 March 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Aristotle on Voluntary Action."  November 9, 2006.  Accessed March 4, 2021.