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Armen Teterin
Armen Teterin

Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change ...

How strong and how reliable is the belief that beloveds are irreplaceable?Pretheoretical judgments do not always converge in this regard, so there is plentyof room for disagreement. But at least it can be taken for granted thatreplaceability does not hold in general; that is, it is not in general true that ifone is justified in loving a person with certain properties, then one isthereby justified in loving another person with thoseproperties. This assumption -which we will call the irreplaceabilityintuition- seems to state a relatively uncontentious fact on whichphilosophers and non-philosophers tend to agree.

Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change ...


The fact that nothing stronger than the irreplaceability intuition can be assumed asuncontentious emerges clearly when one thinks about imaginary cases in whichbeloveds are replaced by duplicates that are indistinguishable from them. Imagine areplica of Juliet, call her Juliet*, a person that Romeo is unable to distinguishfrom Juliet. Romeo would certainly love Juliet* if he were unaware that she is areplica -say, if the Capulets secretly switched Juliet with her during the night-and it is equally plausible that his attitude could easily change once he realizedthat she is a replica. But does Romeo have reasons to love Juliet*? As far as we cansee, there is no clear intuitive answer to this question. Until the question itselfis made more precise, different answers seem equally plausible.6

We will make no attempt to argue against this view, which questions from the verystart the idea that love is subject to normative considerations. If one thinks thatlove is entirely irrational or a-rational, one will hardly be moved byconsiderations about the initial plausibility of this idea. Conversely, in order forour discussion of the irreplaceability intuition to be minimally interesting, it hasto be granted at least as a working hypothesis that there are reasons for love. Whatwe will say here about the property view may be regarded as conditional on thathypothesis.

We doubt that this view can provide a satisfactory account of reasons for love. Asexplained in section 1, the justification of love must not be confused with thejustification of the loving relationship that can obtain between the lover and thebeloved. On the face of it, is not even necessary to be involved in a lovingrelationship in order to have reasons for love. As Protasi has argued, unrequitedlove can be justified. One can have reasons to love a certain person even when thereis no way of getting involved in a loving relationship with that person.9

This account is plausible to some extent. The fact that Betty* has no historicalconnection with Alf may be taken to explain why Alf does not regard Betty and Betty*as interchangeable. However, the appeal to historical properties has its ownproblems. On the one hand, it would make little sense to assume thatall the historical properties of Betty matter to Alf, becausesome historical properties of Betty are clearly irrelevant, and also becausetrivially no other person can have exactly the same historical properties as Betty,unless some form of haecceitism is assumed. On the other hand, if one takes anyrestricted subset of historical properties of Betty, one runs into exactly the samekind of worry that can be raised in connection with ordinary properties. Just as itis not obvious that Alf would love any other woman who is as elegant as Betty, it isnot obvious that he would love any other woman who painted a house with him.11

This view, however, does not seem to provide a viable alternative to the propertyview. One way to interpret the claim that love is de re is to saythat the properties of the beloved do not matter. But this seems wrong. Suppose thatAlf and Betty fall in love with each other, decide to live together, and after ayear Alf starts spending every night at home playing videogames with his friends. IfBetty loved Alf qua individual, that is, independently of hisproperties, she would have no reason to change her attitude towards Alf: Alf isstill Alf, the same person she fell in love with. But many people would agree thatif Betty stops loving Alf, she does it for a reason.13

As these examples show, the internal justification of an action or emotion requiresthat the subject has justified beliefs about some external conditions that arerelevant for the action or emotion, or at least has evidence for such beliefs. Onthe other hand, the external justification of an action or emotion purely concernsexternal conditions that are relevant for the action or emotion, independently ofwhat the subject is justified in believing. As we will suggest, the same distinctioncan be drawn in the case of love, although so far the debate on reasons for love hasmainly focused on internal justification.

A second distinction that must be drawn concerns the claim that the beloved isirreplaceable. Suppose that Romeo is justified in loving Juliet, and that theCapulets secretly switch Juliet with Juliet* during the night. In section 2 weobserved that, even though Romeo might love Juliet* as long as he is unaware of theswitch, his attitude could easily change once he realizes that she is not Juliet.This observation may be understood in at least two ways. One is to take it as astatement about what Romeo is likely to believe about his reasons to love or not tolove Juliet*, the other is to take it as evidence about those very reasons,independently of what Romeo has in mind.

Case 1. Suppose that z is not a perfect replica ofy and that x is internally justified in lovingy. Then, (I3) is definitely true. Either xdoes not know that z is a replica, in which case xis internally justified, but not thereby justified, in lovingz, or x is aware that z lackssome relevant properties, in which case x is not internallyjustified in loving z.

Case 2. Suppose that z is not a perfect replica ofy and that x is externally justified in lovingy. Then, (I3) is definitely true. In this casex is not thereby externally justified in lovingz, given that z is not a perfect replica ofy.

Case 3. Suppose that z is a perfect replica ofy and that x is internally justified in lovingy. Then, (I3) is definitely true. In this case it may happenthat x is unaware that z is a replica, as in case1, and so that x is internally justified, but notthereby justified, in loving z.

Of course, this analysis might be questioned. One might insist that what makes loveunique is that it essentially involves irreplaceability, so it is simply wrong tothink that y and z can be equally valuable forx. We do not have an argument against such an objection. Asobserved in section 2, pretheoretical judgments about irreplaceability do not alwaysconverge, and we have tried to explain this lack of convergence by laying outdifferent readings of (I3). But if you see irreplaceability as unrenounceable, andyou think that reasons for love must be understood accordingly, then you have noneed of any such explanation. We simply disagree on the explanandum.

According to Protasi, we love a person not only in virtue of properties shaped andexperienced in a loving relationship, but also in virtue of perspectival propertieswhose value can be properly assessed outside such a relationship. Beauty is aparadigmatic example of perspectival property: when I say I love a person in virtueof her beauty, I am saying that I love her in virtue of the fact that she looksbeautiful to me.22

Then what does provide the whole story? Perhaps there is no such thing as the wholestory. We have no theory to offer about the properties that constitute reasons forlove, and we doubt that such a theory can be found. The fact is that differentlovers value different properties, and this variation is largely independent of thestandards of beauty or morality that hold in their social environment. Even thoughthere may be actual convergence among lovers on some generally appreciated qualities-as noted in section 1- there is no principled way to characterize a definite kindof property as the kind that matters to the justification to love.

In more general terms, it may be the case that x lovesy, and there is a class of persons such that, for any memberz of that class, it is appropriate for x tolove z. Since this class is comparatively small, many people aroundx do not belong to it. So x is not justifiedin loving any of them. The disanalogy between love and fear observed in section 2can be explained along these lines. If you are swimming in the ocean and see ashark, there is a very large class of sharks such that, for any member of thatclass, it is appropriate for you to fear that shark. This is to say that the truththat grounds your justification to fear the shark in front of you has a much higherdegree of generality.

6The science-fictional example discussed in Milligan 2013 provides a vivid illustration of this ambivalence.Milligan also draws attention to the difference between having some reasons forloving the replica, and having the same reasons for loving the replica. We agreewith him that what matters is the latter.

Freire advocated not mere reform, which would leave the underlying political structures intact, but radical, revolutionary change. He was a radical in the sense that he wanted to go to roots of the problems he observed and experienced. He was not naïve about the obstacles that stood in the way of this kind of change. In rural communities, landowners would fight to maintain their control over peasant workers. In urban environments an emerging class of corporate elites would push aggressively to keep wages low. The conservative wing of the Catholic Church would also seek to preserve the status quo. Political change would, he realized, involve a long-term, multifaceted process of struggle.

Freire did not intend these different modes of consciousness to be seen as fixed, sequential steps or stages in a linear process of individual change (Roberts, 1996a). Nor did he want conscientization to be regarded as a kind of educational silver bullet that could somehow solve all social problems. Frustrated by what he regarded as frequent examples of misunderstanding, Freire stopped using the term conscientização for some years, but retained the ideas of cultivating an informed conscience (Liu, 2014) and developing a critical orientation toward the world as fundamental aims of education. 041b061a72


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