Love, Friendship, and Utility: On Practical Reason and Reductionism

  • Bruce Russell
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 50)


Love and friendship relations are complex and play a multitude of roles in our lives. If the poets are to be believed (and here I think they are), love and friendship bring heavy burdens, even reducing us to unreason or to unprincipled behavior. But even if there is a sense in which “love knows no reasons,” it plays an important role in providing us with reasons, and it is crucial in determining for us much of the behavior we owe to others, and the ways in which we can wrong them. Similarly, the details of the life of “the good person” are as much to be determined in real life by the requirements of friendship as by the promises we make. A moral theory that can explain how we are obligated by promises, but cannot explain the moral relations engendered in love and friendship is deficient in a fundamental way. And an account of human motivation and reason that ignores or distorts the roles of love and friendship in behavior cannot be wholly correct.


Good Consequence Moral Theory Moral Relation Love Relationship Friendship Relation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce Russell
    • 1
  1. 1.Wayne State UniversityDetroitUSA

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