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Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association


published on April 25, 2017

J. L. A. Garcia
DOI: 10.5840/acpaproc201742463

From Neighbor-Love to Utilitarianism, and Back
Uncovering Some Structures and Dynamics for Ethical Theory

Contrasting loving our neighbors with utilitarians’ demand to maximize good reveals important metatheoretic structures and dynamics that I call virtues- basing, input drive, role centering, and patient focus. First, love (good will) is a virtue; such virtues are foundational to both moral obligations and the impersonally valuable. Second, part of loving is acting lovingly. Whether and how I act lovingly, and how loving it is, is a matter of motivation; this input-driven account contrasts with highlighting actions’ outcome. Third, in regarding someone as our neighbor we view her in relation to ourselves; a role-centered perspective shows that a wide range of person-to-person role-relationships constitute moral life. Fourth, if our moral task is loving each person, the moral question is how we respond to each person’s relevant welfare and needs, focusing on those toward someone acts (moral patients), not on maximizing good across persons or producing an optimal world.