The possibility of fitting love: irreplaceability and selectivity
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The question whether there are reasons for loving particular individuals (and not others), and what such reasons might be, has been subject to scrutiny in recent years. On one view, reasons for loving particular individuals (or, alternatively, what makes loving them fitting) are some of their qualities. A problem with crude versions of this view, however, is that they both construe individuals as replaceable in a problematic way and fail to do justice to the selectivity of love. On another view, by contrast, reasons for loving particular individuals have to do with our relationship with them. Even if it might accommodate the selectivity of love, the view—like crude quality views—ultimately faces worries stemming from replaceability. I argue for a view which combines the two views in a way that accommodates both the irreplaceable aspect under which individuals are loved and the fact that love is a selective response to them. On my view, reasons for loving particular individuals are some of their qualities as manifested in the context of a relationship with one. After spelling out the view, I discuss an important challenge facing it: what’s so special about actually being in touch—via a relationship—with certain qualities of an individual that would explain why we have special reasons to love them in particular? I consider inadequate answers to this question before putting forward my own.
KeywordsLove Reasons Appropriateness Fittingness Value Emotions
I am grateful to Jerry Cederblom, Florian Cova, Julien Deonna, Rodrigo Diaz, Fritz-Anton Fritzson, David Furrer, Laura Grams, Lara Jost, William Melanson, Andrew Newman, Fabrice Teroni, Jona Vance, and audiences at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the THUMOS research group in Geneva for discussion, and to Antoine Taillard for a commentary, on a previous draft of this paper. Special thanks go to Chris Grau, Michele Palmira, and three anonymous reviewers for detailed and extremely helpful written comments.
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