AuthorClausen, Ginger Tate
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractLove is crucial to a good human life; it animates our most meaningful relationships, and it also reveals to us what we value and who we hope to become. My research focuses on the relationship between love and valuing, and defends a version of the quality theory of love. According to quality theories, love's fittingness is determined by properties of the beloved. Quality theories face many objections. In the first part of my dissertation, I argue that five prominent objections to quality theories miss the mark. In the second part, I argue that a less-appreciated objection to quality theories, the problem of love's object, has not yet received a satisfying response. In the third part, I present a new quality theory that both avoids the problem of love's object and is independently well-motivated. Brief summaries of these three parts follow. Quality theories, again, hold that love's fittingness is determined by properties of the beloved. These theories contrast with relationship theories, on which love's fittingness is determined by features of the (substantive, historical, ongoing) relationship between lover and beloved. I motivate quality theories by arguing that loving someone and valuing a relationship are distinct phenomena, subject to different norms. I then defend quality theories in general against several objections. The most important of these is the fungibility objection: if love is fitting because of qualities of the beloved, then the lover should gladly swap out a loved one for a qualitatively similar other. I argue that this objection rests on the moralistic fallacy, which involves treating norms extrinsic to an emotion-e.g. moral or prudential norms-as if they were intrinsic to it. I show how the quality theory can accommodate the importance of loyalty to relationships without requiring the impossible - that our loved ones be the most fitting of all possible candidates. Next, I turn to an objection that is harder to answer than most quality theorists allow, the problem of love's object. Briefly, if we love people on the basis of certain of their properties, then our love must be for these properties, not for the person who has them. Some (Delaney, Keller) respond to this problem by distinguishing the ground from the object of love: even if some of the beloved's properties ground love-i.e. make it fitting-the beloved as a whole is nevertheless the object of love. I argue that the ground/object distinction is no more than a narrow, technical fix. To address the problem meaningfully, the quality theorist must explain why the object of love is also valued by love. Kolodny attempts such an explanation, but implausibly maintains that the beloved is valued only extrinsically. Others (Velleman, Badhwar) respond to the fungibility objection and the problem of love's object together, by making the beloved's "true self" both the object and the ground of love. This is more promising, but neither account works; in answering the fungibility objection, each winds up still vulnerable to the problem of love's object. Finally, I propose a new quality theory that answers the problem of love's object and is independently well-motivated. I argue that in loving someone, we value them for qualities attributable to them as an organic unity, not for qualities that constitute merely a part of them. That is, love does not value some aspect of a person, like her wit or good looks; rather, love is a way of seeing the whole person as possessing some valuable property, such as beauty or goodness, that is attributable to organic unities. This general approach has many advantages. It allows the quality theorist to say that love intrinsically values the whole person, because the valuable property is attributable only to the beloved as a whole, not merely to some of her parts. It also explains why love is fitting, because the properties in question really are worthy of a positive emotional response. Finally, because the valuable property needn't depend on common base properties, the organic unity view offers an expansive account of what we might fittingly love.
Degree ProgramGraduate College