Against unconditional love

D. Edyvane

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While unconditional love is frequently regarded as the best kind of romantic commitment, our commitments in general are not thought to be unconditional. In other contexts, we think conditional commitment (commitment which can in some sense be rendered intelligible by appeal to reasons) to be superior. This paper examines the peculiar status of unconditional love in the romantic context and argues that it is unwarranted; the best kind of romantic commitment should be viewed as conditional. The first part of the paper examines and criticises those arguments which attempt to defend conditional love by appeal to the idea that love is based upon the properties of the beloved. The second part of the paper examines Harry Frankfurt's narrowly subjective conception of unconditional love and highlights certain counterintuitive consequences of it. The final section of the paper argues that the best kind of love will prompt us to adopt two perspectives with regard to the beloved. While loving does involve the narrowly subjective perspective defended by Frankfurt, it also demands that we strive for a more objective perspective, which takes into consideration the reasons we might be able to offer to render our commitment intelligible to others.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-75
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Applied Philosophy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2003

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