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The Nature and Normativity of Love and Friendship


This dissertation provides answers to various philosophical questions about the nature and normativity of love and friendship. Chapter 1 introduces these questions and my answers to them, while chapters 2 through 5 elaborate on these answers. Chapter 2 addresses the questions about the nature of love and friendship and argues that they’re best understood as syndromes, or as non-accidental condition-clusters that are accompanied by some set of symptoms indicating their presence. It also defends the thesis that love and friendship are psychologically grounded in reasons as well as several theses about the relations these phenomena have to their objects’ non-instrumental value. Chapters 3 through 5 address the questions about the normativity of love and friendship. Chapter 3 focuses on justification. It defends the rationalist position that love and friendship can be rationally assessed as justified or unjustified, and further argues that there are three types of reasons—value-based, quality-based, and history-based reasons—that can justify love and friendship. This chapter also argues that these phenomena are justified overall just in case the balance of reasons renders them rationally appropriate and defends the thesis that love and friendship can be completely rational. Chapters 4 and 5 address questions about the normative significance of love and friendship. Chapter 4 focuses on reasons. It argues that love and friendship generate person-based and relationship-based reasons, that these reasons are a mix of moral and non-moral ones, and that these reasons can be special in two different ways. It also defends multiple theses pertaining to how the reasons of love and friendship stack up against others that we may have. Chapter 5 focuses on duties. It argues that love and friendship generate irreducible, sui generis, special moral duties that (1) are directly grounded in the augmented moral statuses that our beloveds and friends have for us in virtue of our special relationships with them and (2) outweigh competing duties unless the contents of the latter duties are more significant than those of the former duties and the difference in significance here has reached a certain threshold.

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