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Essays in Philosophy

Volume 12, Issue 1, January 2011
Love and Reasons

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editor’s introduction
1. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Constantine Sandis Issue Introduction
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essays
2. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
John Shand Love As If
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The primary focus here is romantic love, but it may be applied to other cases of love such as those within a family. The first issue is whether love is a non-rational occurrence leading to a state of affairs to which the normative constrains of reason do not apply. If one assumes that reasons are relevant to determining love, then the second issue is the manner in which love is and should be reasonable and governed by the indications of reason. It is contended that our conception of love is inherently contradictory. Depending on circumstances, we want love to be both a non-rational occurrence beyond reason and something normative such that the indications of reasons are relevant to determining and assessing it. We alternate between the two treatments of love and in so doing love can function in our lives. The incoherence is accommodated by each treatment or view of love being one of as if. This allows us to live with love in a manner whereby we do not have to definitively commit to either alternative, so we have a dipolar as if concept of love. Sometimes we view love as if reasons were beside the point and at others we view love as if it were rightly subject to the indications of reason.
3. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Eric J. Silverman Robert Solomon’s Rejection of Aristotelian Virtue: Is the Passion of Erotic Love a Virtue that is Independent of Rationality?
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A recurring theme within Robert Solomon’s writings concerns the central importance of the passions. His high regard for the passions even motivates him to challenge the traditional understanding of virtue. Solomon rejects the Aristotelian view that virtues are dispositions of character developed according to rational principles rather than passions. He offers the counter-example of erotic love as a passion that is not based upon rationality, which he argues ought to be viewed as a virtue. This paper argues that while Solomon’s account of love can accommodate the traditional Aristotelian motivations for rejecting passions as virtues, there are compelling reasons for preferring the Aristotelian account of virtue. Ultimately, Solomon’s argument relies upon an implausible view of the passions and offers inferior resources for examining love in terms of virtue.
4. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Jussi Suikkanen The Possibility of Love Independent Reasons
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In his recent work, Harry Frankfurt has defended a theory according to which an agent’s practical reasons are determined by what she happens to love. In the first section of this article, I will describe some of the awkward consequences of this view. For instance, it would turn out that not all rapists would have reasons not to rape their victims. The second section of the article explains in detail Frankfurt’s argument for his theory of reasons. The crux of this argument is that, because reasons have to be attached to significant life-changes, any attempt to show that there were love independent reasons would need to be based on a prior evaluation of significance. However, such evaluations can only be based on what we already love, or so Frankfurt argues. From this threat of circularity, Frankfurt concludes that there cannot be reasons outside the realm of the objects of our loves. The rest of the article is a critical examination of Frankfurt’s argument. It first constructs an analogical argument for reasons for beliefs. In that case, both the unacceptable consequences of the argument and its basic flaws are more transparent. It is clear that our prior beliefs are not the only epistemic standard by which the justificatory role of new experiences is to be evaluated. In the end of the article, I argue that, likewise, our prior loving attitudes cannot be the only relevant standard for assessing the significance of life-changes. This is why our reasons are not constrained by what we love.
5. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Alan Soble Concerning Self-Love: Analytic Problems in Frankfurt’s Account of Love
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In The Reasons of Love, Harry Frankfurt proposes a philosophical account of love according to which there are four necessary conditions for the occurrence of love. We may ask reasonable questions about these four conditions: (1) Is each condition adequately analytically defined? (2) Is each condition plausibly a necessary condition for love, and has Frankfurt defended their necessity with good arguments? (3) Are all four conditions consistent with each other? And (4) if the four conditions are only necessary, and hence tell us only when love is absent, what must be added to Frankfurt’s account which would tell us, just as importantly, when love is present? In this essay I address these questions, although some more than others, especially in trying to understand Frankfurt’s claims about “self-love.” It emerges from this investigation that Frankfurt’s central metaethical thesis, which he has been advancing for three decades—that caring about or loving something logically precedes valuing it, and hence that we cannot have value-mentioning reasons for loving something or someone—starts to fall apart.
6. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Thomas H. Smith Romantic Love
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Nozick provides us with a compelling characterization of romantic love, but, as I argue, he underdescribes the phenomenon, for he fails to distinguish it from attitudes that those who are not romantically involved may bear to each other. Frankfurt also offers a compelling characterization of love, but he is sceptical about its application to the case of romantic love. I argue that each account has the resources with which to complete the other. I consider a preliminary synthesis of the two accounts, which I find wanting. The synthesis I then favour relies upon two thoughts: (i) each romantic partner has loving concern for a plural object viz. the two of them, and (ii) romantic partners are, in addition, beloved of a plural subject, viz. the two of them. A corollary is that Frankfurt is wrong to think that, whilst self-love is a pure form of love, romantic love is an impure form of love, for romantic love just is a form of (plural) self-love. In an appendix, I defend the coherence of the thought that love can have plural relata.
7. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Paul Voice The Authority of Love as Sentimental Contract
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This paper argues that the categorical authority of love’s imperatives is derived from a sentimental contract. The problem is defined and the paper argues against two recent attempts to explain the authority of love’s demands by Velleman and Frankfurt. An argument is then set out in which it is shown that a constructivist approach to the problem explains the sources of love’s justifications. The paper distinguishes between the moral and the romantic case but argues that the sources of authority are paralleled in each. The paper ends by asking what we are to say when the demands of morality and the demands of love conflict.
8. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Roger Fjellström Love and Equal Value
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This essay offers a way to avoid a clash between reasons of love and reasons of ethics that stems from a difference in the conception of the moral value of people. In moralities of lovers, the loved ones are due to be accorded a value superior to that of other people, whereas in ethics there is an inescapable presumption that people have a value that is equal among them. The usual way to avoid this clash has been either to make room in the ethical arsenal for reasons relating to particular agents, agent-relative reasons, or to acknowledge that love-grounded reasons legitimately compete with ethical reasons and that we need a method of negotiating them. Both escapes have serious problems. The essay proposes a third way. The first step is to reshape the notion of ’love,’ in a direction where important characteristics of our common understanding are kept, notably the loved ones’ uniqueness and incomparability, while the characteristic that is problematic in the present context would be eliminated, namely the you-and-me character of love that gives rise to reasons that are wholly personal and partial. The second step is to show how such a reformed notion of love coheres with the assumption of equal value. And the third step is, through this connection, to change our understanding of love as reason-giving, from generating reason directly to generating reason indirectly. This involves a shift of focus from reason to meta-reason, viz. that which makes our system of, or competence for, normative reasons reasonable. The advantage of the proposed solution would not only be that clash between reasons of love and reasons of ethics is avoided, but also that ethical reasons are seen as underpinned by love, which moreover offers the best ultimate explanation of them.
9. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Kyle Hubbard The Unity of Eros and Agape: On Jean-Luc Marion’s Erotic Phenomenon
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This essay evaluates Jean-Luc Marion’s claim in The Erotic Phenomenon that eros and agape are “two names selected among an infinity of others in order to think and to say the one love” (221). I will defend his attempt to unite agape and eros against Jacques Derrida’s claim that we must love without any desire for reciprocity. Additionally, I will indicate what implications Marion’s account of love has for a discussion of love and its reasons. Marion correctly identifies the paradox at the heart of love: that in order to truly love, I must give up my demand for assurance, although I may still maintain the hope that another will love me. While Marion offers an important corrective to Derrida’s account of pure agape, I will argue that his account of love that includes both eros and agape ultimately resembles Derrida’s pure agape too closely because Marion does not sufficiently acknowledge the role of reciprocity in love.
book reviews
10. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Joseph Betz Review of Killing in War, by Jeff McMahon
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11. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Eric M. Rovie Review of Ethics and Humanity: Themes From the Philosophy of Jonathan Glover, ed. N. Ann Davis, Richard Keshen, and Jeff McMahan
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12. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Roger Chao Review of Contemporary Debates in Political Philosophy, ed. John Christiano and John Christman
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13. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Roger Chao Review of Animalkind: What We Owe to Animals, by Jean Kazez
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14. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Maximiliano E. Korstanje Review of Une Histoire Du Diable, by Robert Muchembled
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15. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Maximiliano E. Korstanje Review of Narrating Evil: a post-metaphysical theory of reflexive judgment, by Pia-Lara María
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