Concerning Self-Love: Analytic Problems in Frankfurt's Account of Love
Essays in Philosophy 12:1 (January 2011), pp. 55-67
13 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2013
Date Written: March 1, 2010
In The Reasons of Love, Harry Frankfurt proposes a philosophical account of love according to which there are four necessary conditions for the occurrence of love. We may ask reasonable questions about these four conditions: (1) Is each condition adequately analytically defined? (2) Is each condition plausibly a necessary condition for love, and has Frankfurt defended their necessity with good arguments? (3) Are all four conditions consistent with each other? And (4) if the four conditions are only necessary, and hence tell us only when love is absent, what must be added to Frankfurt’s account which would tell us, just as importantly, when love is present? In this essay I address these questions, although some more than others, especially in trying to understand Frankfurt’s claims about “self-love.” It emerges from this investigation that Frankfurt’s central metaethical thesis, which he has been advancing for three decades — that caring about or loving something logically precedes valuing it, and hence that we cannot have value-mentioning reasons for loving something or someone — starts to fall apart.
Keywords: Love, Self-Love, Frankfurt, Reasons and Love
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