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 my Experience-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.

Presented at Chapel Hill Normativity Workshop 2018. Paper available on request.

Epistemic Perspectivism and What One Ought To Know

On Epistemic Perspectivism, what you ought to do is a function of the information you possess. If this is the case, then it seems possible that we can control what we ought to do by controlling what information we possess. I consider two cases of this kind of control: moral rationalization and loving commitment. Intuitively, we are permitted to focus on the qualities of our beloved rather than others. However, it seems impermissible for us to deliberately ignore facts that would lead us to possess moral reasons. In order to distinguish these cases, we need to ask the following question: what one ought to know? Though I'm pessimistic that any answer to the question can distinguish these two cases, I'm also optimistic for Epistemic Perspectivism. This is because if what we ought to know is a function of the information we possess, then we can influence the reasons others possess by affecting what they know.

To be presented at St. Louis Annual Conference on Reasons and Rationality 2019 and Humboldt-Southampton Normativity Conference 2019. Paper available on request.