The Journal of Ethics

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 347–367 | Cite as

Love of Whole Persons

  • Ginger T. ClausenEmail author


According to quality theories of love, love is fitting by virtue of properties of the loved person. Despite their immediate plausibility, quality theories have met with many objections. Here I focus on two that strike at the heart of what makes the quality theory an appealing account of love, specifically, the theory’s ability to accommodate the fact that loving someone is a way of valuing them for who they are. The fungibility objection and the problem of love’s object maintain that if a person is loved on the basis of their qualities, they are not valued in the right kind of way. I propose a new kind of quality theory which both answers these objections and is independently well-motivated. Specifically, I argue that to love a person as a whole, one must value them as an organic unity.


Emotion Love Love’s object Value theory Organic unities Quality theory 



I thank Julia Annas, Connie Rosati, Mark Timmons, and anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.


  1. Abramson, Kate, and Adam Leite. 2011. Love as a Reactive Emotion. The Philosophical Quarterly 61(245): 673–699.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Badhwar, Neera Kapur. 1987. Friends as Ends in Themselves. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 48(1): 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barnes, Jonathan. 1982. The Presocratic Philosophers. Revised ed. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Cited in Graham, Daniel W., Heraclitus, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2015 Edition), ed. Edward N. Zalta.
  4. Delaney, Neil. 1996. Romantic Love and Loving Commitment: Articulating a Modern Ideal. American Philosophical Quarterly 33(4): 375–405.Google Scholar
  5. Guadagnino, Luca, James Ivory, Howard Rosenman, Rodrigo Teixeira, Marco Morabito, Peter Spears, Emilie Georges, et al. 2018. Call Me by Your Name. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (Firm). Google Scholar
  6. Hurka, Thomas. 1998. Two Kinds of Organic Unity. Journal of Ethics 2(4): 229–320.Google Scholar
  7. Hurka, Thomas. 2015. Moore’s Moral Philosophy. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2015 Edition), ed. Edward N. Zalta.
  8. Keller, Simon. 2000. How Do I love Thee? Let Me Count the Properties. American Philosophical Quarterly 37(2): 163–173.Google Scholar
  9. Naar, Hichem. 2017. Subject-Relative Reasons for Love. Ratio 30(2): 197–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Nussbaum, Martha. 2013. Love and Vision: Iris Murdoch on Eros and the Individual. In Iris Murdoch and the Search for Human Goodness, ed. Maria Antonaccio, and William Schweiker, 55–73. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  11. Protasi, Sara. 2016. Loving People for Who They Are (Even if They Don’t Love You Back). European Journal of Philosophy 24(1): 214–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Scheffler, Samuel. 2012. Valuing. In Reasons and Recognition: Essays on the Philosophy of T.M. Scanlon, by Wallace, R. Jay, Rahul Kumar, and Samuel Freeman, eds., edited by R. Jay Wallace, Rahul Kumar, and Samuel Freeman. Oxford University Press, 2011. Oxford Scholarship Online.
  13. Velleman, J. David. 1999. Love as a Moral Emotion. Ethics 109(2): 338–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Vlastos, Gregory. 1981. The Individual as An Object of Love in Plato. In Platonic Studies, 3–38. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations