Love and Rationality: The Experience-Commitment Account

On the quality view, the loveable qualities of our beloveds are weighty reasons to love them. A theory of rational love seems to tell us that our love is irrational if we possess more reason to love someone else. Yet, we know many people with better qualities than our beloveds. Is romantic love simply irrational in most cases? Frankfurt (2004) and others claim that love is non-rational. Kolodny (2003) and others claim that we have non-quality-based reasons that provide us with most reason to love our beloveds. Setiya (2014) and others have argued that though love is rational, love’s reasons cannot be weighed. All of these accounts require treating loving attitudes as in some way an exception to other general theories of rational attitudes or leads to counter-intuitive results. In this paper, I defend the quality view by defending a new account of love’s reasons and rationality that does not require such exceptionalism. It also does justice to important ways in which we form, maintain and evaluate loving relationships. On the Possession-Commitment Account of love’s reasons and rationality, most lovers do possess most reason to love their beloveds. I argue that (a) experiencing a beloved’s qualities is often a necessary condition for possessing them as reasons for love and (b) love involves a commitment to manage the reasons we possess such that we tend to have more reason to love our beloveds than to love others.

This paper is forthcomng in Ergo, an Open Access of Journal of Philosophy (October 2021)

Ongoing projects

I currently have working papers and drafts in normative ethics, metaethics, and aesthetics. Here is a brief summary of these papers. They are available on request through e-mail:

  • A paper on whether the connection between what we ought to do and what we have most reason to do is sustainable.

  • A paper on what justifies the present use of our normative concepts as opposed to the use of other normative concepts. 

  • A paper on whether a version of expressivism inspired by Brandom's inferentialism can respond to realist criticisms.

  • A paper on what makes art lowbrow, middlebrow, and highbrow.