Volume 12, Issue 1, January 2011
Love and Reasons
Thomas H. Smith
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.