Niko Kolodny, Papers
25, Love as Valuing a Relationship In the article, Love as Valuing a In the first section called “Love and Reasons for It”, Kolodny describes the theory that love is an effect to cause. The example he provides is that most emotions have reasons and since . 4 pages Culture Essay HCOMdocx. Niko Kolodny. At first glance theory," for example, reasons for love are the beloved's personal attributes KOLODNY person is one's relationship to her: the ongoing history that one shares .. abstract and, second, affectless. If we added. “LSE Lectures on Reasons and Rationality” (updated 1/29/11) ABSTRACT .. “ Love as Valuing a Relationship,” Philosophical Review (): –
It is commonplace that a particular reactive attitude is an appropriate response only to certain morally significant features. Anger, for instance, is typically thought to be an appropriate response to certain kinds of wrongdoing, wrongdoings which have specifically to do with what persons can reasonably demand of one another.
Gratitude is canonically taken to be an appropriate response only to those acts which exceed the actor's obligations to the beneficiary. People do, of course, say this sort of thing in jest, but that is precisely the point: Even if e is made intelligible, it seems, like c and dproperly the subject of criticism as a basis for love: Loving someone for their shiny hair and flawless complexion is both a recognizable form of immaturity and shallow.
Actually loving someone for size 10 feet is perverse, in the colloquial if not the Augustinian sense. Why should criticism of love take these forms? The most straightforward answer is that there is a variety of love that is itself a moralized response, and if people present themselves as having this attitude but as responding to something other than another's good character, their attitude seems shallow, superficial, etc.
This is confirmed not only by the fact that a above seems entirely appropriate, but also by the ways in which degenerate cases like c — e commonly pay homage to cases such as a. So, for instance, there is a well known diamond company which pitches its goods on something like the basis of c.
The second declaration b is not obviously too shallow or superficial a basis for reactive love. But suppose the acts mentioned are out of character. The more such acts look out of character, the more they seem insufficient, or the wrong sort of basis. Here, however, it is important to look at the disposition in its relational context. The ability to get on the same wavelength as others can be used for good, or as a tool for manipulation.
When regularly used in the latter way, it is neither laudable nor an appropriate ground for love on the part of those so affected. When it is used in ways that help to facilitate healthy aspects of the relationship, in contrast, it is both laudable and an appropriate ground for love cf.
The fine moral texture of the deployment of the trait in relation to the lover is thus of central importance. It might be objected all the same that character traits are not at the right depth to be appropriate grounds for love: Matters only get worse if adults start to detail the personal qualities for which we are loved, since these qualities But the girl who sensibly enough does not want to be loved for her yellow hair might well again sensibly enough wish to be loved by her friends for her loyalty and kindness.
This gives a familiar sense in which the girl who is loved for her character is loved for herself alone. Indeed, the proper grounds of reactive love are a subset of praiseworthy traits — those laudable traits that are especially salient in the context of fairly intimate relationships. For instance, in Sense and Sensibility, Colonel Brandon's good character is shown in part through his attentiveness to both Marianne and her sister Elinor while Marianne suffers through a long and potentially deadly illness.
This is precisely the sort of character trait that would be relevant to anyone in an intimate familial, friendly, marital relationship with the Colonel. Austen does not, in contrast, describe the Colonel in ways that illustrate, say, a passion for social justice, and one would not be so drawn into thinking that Marianne ought to give up Willoughby and focus on Brandon if Austen had done this.
Instead of a chapter devoted to the Colonel's care and thoughtfulness during Marianne's illness, suppose Austen had offered his raising great funds in public benefits to serve the poor. Noble indeed, but not the sort of thing to suggest that Marianne's loving regard ought to shift towards him rather than Willoughby. This feature of love is illustrated by degenerate cases as well, precisely in so far as they are recognized as degenerate cases.
In the musical Hair, for instance, a woman falls in love and has a child with a peace activist. The fellow entirely neglects them both, leaving them desperate for housing and food. How about a needing friend? Here is someone who has made the mistake of founding her love on a laudable aspect of character that as a matter of fact has no connection with good conduct as partner or father. Her lament pays tribute to the misdirected nature of her love, for the heartbroken complaint only makes sense if she thinks her beloved's passion for social justice should yield good conduct as lover and parent.
While certain features of character are thus the paradigm grounds for reactive love, it is the persons themselves who are objects of the attitude. Reactive attitudes vary enormously on this score.
One can be contemptuous, for instance, of some aspect of people's characters — say, their ill treatment of students, or their philandering ways — while at the same time appreciating other aspects of their characters.
Just as reactive attitudes vary in their objects, so too they vary in whether their appropriate objects are the same as their grounds. The fact that on our account these two come apart in the case of love does not make love unique. The same is true, for instance, of anger and gratitude.
You may be angry about something a person has done; the action is the ground for anger. But you are angry at the person; the person is the object of the attitude.
As with many other reactive attitudes, reactive love also requires the right relational context. It is crucial to the plot of Sense and Sensibility, for instance, that during her illness Colonel Brandon cares for Marianne herself and Marianne's loved ones most notably Elinor. Brandon might have been shown to have the same set of intimate virtues through interactions with characters not intimately connected with Marianne, but were Marianne then apprised of his good conduct by a third party and were there no other appropriate relational contextyou would expect her to respond with admiration, not love.
That Brandon's laudable qualities are exhibited in ways directed towards Marianne and those she loves is key to making sense of her growing love for him. In Strawson's terms, then, love is in the first instance a participant attitude. The relationship here is neither the ground nor the object of reactive love. Rather, it establishes the context within which the beloved's laudable character can become an appropriate ground for love. First, just as it would be inappropriate for a complete stranger, not in appropriate interaction with or appropriately related to any of the parties, to feel gratified by someone's success, so too it would be inappropriate for a complete stranger to love rather than merely admire Edward for his goodness.
There must be an appropriate relational context in order for love to be an appropriate response at all. Secondly, in the central case it is the fact that the beloved's laudable qualities of character are displayed in ways directed towards the lover that makes those qualities the proper grounds for the lover's response. This is not to say that the appropriate ground for love is the relational fact that the beloved's virtuous traits have been expressed in a way directed towards the lover.
What matters here are character traits, not discrete acts. It is these features of love that lie behind Elinor's invocation of her relationship with Edward in the context of her description of his good traits.
Her relationship to and interactions with him make love an appropriate response to the goodness he has displayed, where otherwise only admiration, not love, would fully make sense. This structure is shared by other attitudes which take dispositions or traits as their grounds. Suppose I am gratified by Amy's willingness to laugh uninhibitedly at my jokes.
Without an appropriate relational context, this reaction would be thoroughly inappropriate; it would be bizarre for a total stranger to feel gratified on this account, since not just anyone is appropriately placed to feel gratified by Amy's willingness to laugh at my jokes. Moreover, being gratified would be inappropriate unless this willingness were somehow expressed or manifested in an appropriate relational context. Suppose I tell some jokes. Amy does not laugh.
She's completely willing to laugh with delight at your jokes, I have no doubt about that. She likes you and thinks you're funny! She just didn't hear you — the bar is too noisy. Certainly not, even if I am now fully convinced that she would be willing to laugh with delight at my jokes if she heard them. But if she does laugh, in contrast, then I am gratified by her willingness to laugh at my jokes; the willingness is the reason for my feeling gratified, but it is so only given that it is relationally expressed.
I may also be gratified by her laughing, but that is a separate matter. This example, like reactive love, is a member of a broader family of cases. Suppose you know Avery is a sexist pig. Then Avery begins acting in sexist ways towards you. Now you are appropriately outraged by Avery's sexism — not just Avery's acts — in an entirely different way.
The relationally directed expression of the disposition makes different attitudes towards Avery appropriate on account of the disposition. In the structure of its grounds, then, reactive love displays a pattern that shows up elsewhere as well. The disposition is a good reason for the attitude only in so far as it has been relationally expressed to the relevant person.
Another familiar structural pattern appears in reactive love's affective and motivational upshots. No particular reactive attitude can be understood in isolation from its links to characteristic desires, aims, motivations and affective responses. This is shown, for instance, in the ways in which people are criticized when they claim to love but appear unwilling to sacrifice anything for their loved ones: Suppose George says that he loves his wife but feels no desire whatsoever to help her when she is in need.
This is not intelligible as an instance of love: To render the case intelligible, an explanation is needed of why, despite George's love, he feels no such motivations — an explanation pitched in terms of the details of the relationship, its history, the wife's recent behaviour and the like.
This is not to say that any of the particular individual motivations in question are necessary conditions of reactive love; what love requires varies enormously from case to case, and the requirements themselves are defeasible in ways varying with the details of the case.
What comes into view here is a complex constellation of 1 conduct in which the person who loves has prima facie reason to engage, 2 motives, desires and the like, expressive of love, 3 motivations, desires and affective responses the absence of which constitutes prima facie grounds for criticism, and 4 ceteris paribus, defeasible necessary conditions of love.
For mature adults, this constellation can be made sense of in terms of the human constitution and the fact that love gives people reasons. There is an utterly familiar sense, for instance, in which loving people gives me reason to weep when they die: Given how people are constituted and the fact that my love gives me reason to feel sorrow at the loss, those tears are a perfectly appropriate expression of my love. If someone does not cry at the loss of a loved one, you wonder why not, and if there really does not seem to be anything that would account for the absence of tears, you become dubious and critical of the claim to have loved.
It is consequently unsurprising that in such circumstances, weeping is a defeasible requirement of love. The shift here from normative expectations and standards for criticism to conditions for possession of the attitude is familiar. If a kind is demarcated by standards of evaluation, something can be of that kind while failing to meet the standards, but if it is too far off then it is no longer counted as an instance of the kind at all.
Similar points apply to the desire to be with the beloved. In any given case the appropriate shape of this desire varies along multiple dimensions. Most obviously, it varies with the relationship at issue: But the inflection of this desire can also appropriately vary without variation in role or relationship type: A desire to be with someone may appropriately fade into the background at some points, or may be overridden by conflict, distraction, or concerns originating elsewhere in one's life.
For all this variation, however, there are key markers of the relevant kind of desire: Here too there is a constellation of reasons, characteristic forms of expression, defeasible necessary conditions, and grounds for criticism. If you were told that Jane loves her aunt but takes no joy in her company, is not happy to see her, has no intention now or in the future of visiting her, etc. In the absence of some such explanation and without some other compensating indicationsyou would appropriately doubt the correctness or depth of her avowal of love.
One expects people who avow love to wish loved ones well for their own sake, not for the sake of the benefits that will or might accrue. Moreover, one expects the lover to desire to be with the loved one in a fashion not reducible to the expectation of any benefits to be gained thereby.
The dividing line between a love which is disinterested in this respect and one which is not depends upon differences in the ways in which avowed lovers treat the significance of the fact that they are the beneficiaries of the beloveds' good traits.
Is she fine, so well bred The perfect girl, a social deb? And is she the sort, you've always thought, Could make you what you're not? The character criticized here values his beloved on account of what she can do for him — indeed, on what she can make him. An obvious contrast here is Elinor's expression of love for Edward, quoted above.
Elinor values Edward's good qualities as expressed in interaction with her and her family, but her affection is not a form of excited anticipation of benefitting by being with him. Of course, it is none the less a pleasure and a joy.
This combination may give rise to several important objections. It creates the reasons by which his acts of loving concern and devotion are inspired. His view might lead one to wonder how a view like ours could possibly be right. How could love be an independent source of reasons — a source of reasons you would not have but for the fact that you love — if we are right that love is also grounded in reasons: A parallel situation is one in which some form of blame is warranted, though no particular form is required.
Someone who reacts with anger thereby has reason to do things which someone who reacts with contempt does not have. Similarly, there can be conditions that warrant love without requiring it in the usual case, even exceptionally kind behaviour does not require love in particular as a responseand if one does love in those circumstances, one's love gives one reasons that go beyond the reasons provided by the conditions that warranted the love.
The fact that Mike consistently treats me kindly may give me some reason to take a measure of regard for his welfare. But this reason does not support anything remotely as deep and abiding as the commitment to another's welfare which is given to me by love. More vividly still, Mike's kindness does not by itself give me much of a reason to want to be with him, save that it would benefit me to do so.
But if I come to love him, it is part and parcel of my love that barring some defeating reason I want to be with him quite aside from any benefit I might thereby gain. My dear ones' relationally expressed good character warrants my love for them, but their good character does not by itself give me any disinterested reason to be with them or care for their welfare —that reason is given by the fact that I love them.
So to this extent we agree with Frankfurt: But this does not mean that love cannot be grounded in reasons. As love is gradually born, lovers generally respond not just to relationally expressed good character, but also to features that do not appear to be morally significant: These features help to render the loving response intelligible.
First, in some of these cases the relevant traits do constitute laudable moral qualities in situ. In the context of a developing intimate relationship, this trait can constitute a virtue. If the sensitivity is consistently deployed in objectionable ways, moreover, it is not a virtue and ceases to be recognizable as an appropriate ground for love.
A more striking case is sexual attractiveness. An alluring walk or flirtatious speech can be a manifestation of good character when appropriately deployed in the context of a developing romantic relationship, where of course an appropriate expression of love is sexual activity.
It can be tempting to think that morally neutral traits can likewise provide good reasons for love. But what is being gestured at here? Suppose two session musicians play together on strictly professional terms day in and day out for many years. They may take pleasure in the music they have made together.
But love may be a thoroughly inappropriate response in the context of their relationship. In calling attention to such features, the friend is calling attention to the fine texture of their interactions and to the dispositions that give those interactions their special satisfaction. On the ordinary, broad conception of the moral with which we are working here, those are morally significant traits.
It is, for instance, a familiar form of confused immaturity to take as a reason for love a physical allure that is independent of the person's values and laudable ways of interacting with others. Suppose some relationships are constituted by love. Then by definition, if there is no love, then there is no relationship.
So, if there is a relationship constituted for love, then only when there is love is there a relationship, and there is love only when the relationship is valued in the right way. Assuming a relationship cannot be valued until it exists, then a love-constituted relationship cannot be valued until it exists. The relationship can never arise to be valued though, for the relationship is constituted by love, which consists in valuing the relationship.
There is reason to think we cannot value a relationship until it exists, for whether what we are valuing before the relationship exists is the relationship or some imagined relationship is unclear. Further, supposing the relationship does not exist, if we valued the relationship, then we either value some non-existent thing, which seems absurd, or we do value some existing thing, which contradicts our supposition.
So there is at least prima facia reason to think we cannot value a relationship until it exists. Reflecting on the nature of certain relationships seems to provide some motivation for thinking love constitutes some relationships.
Niko Kolodny, Love as valuing a relationship - PhilPapers
For we might wonder why a relation between two people is a romantic relationship if there is no love between the two people, as seen in the Billy and Sue case. Further, a supposedly romantic relationship seems to change depending on whether love is reciprocal or not. If Billy loves Sue, but Sue does not love Billy, the relationship between the two seems more of a crush than that of a romantic relationship.
Further, someone who thought some relationships are constituted by love might additionally hold that, in some circumstances, you are emotionally vulnerable because you are in love. For if relationships are reasons for love, rather than love consisting in valuing relationships, nothing seems to prevent reasonless love from arising. Such love might then establish a relationship constituted by love, which then could serve as a reason for the love. Kolodny need not deny the existence of relationships constituted by love then.