PUBLICATION

“Hegel and Externalism about Intentions,” The Owl of Minerva 41:1-2 (2009-10) 107-142.

WRITING SAMPLE

“Love as a Twofold Tendency of Will.”

WORKS IN PROGRESS

“Love and Union.”
“Augustine on Loving Equally.”
How to Love Your Neighbor

DISSERTATION: On Loving Some People More Than Others

Dissertation Abstract:

Most of us think we should love some people more than others. If we did not love our own children more than a new friend, something would be wrong. However, in De doctrina christiana Augustine makes the following argument, which I explain in Chapter One of my dissertation:

(1) The degree to which we love something should be proportional to the value it has.
(2) Every person has equal value.
(3) Therefore, we should love all people equally.

Obviously, Augustine’s conclusion conflicts with the intuition that unequal or preferential love is, in fact, appropriate. Thus, it seems there is something wrong with his argument. Premise (1) seems like the obvious point of attack. However, as I suggest in Chapter One, the problem with the first premise is not immediately obvious. Indeed, it seems there is some connection between appropriate love and value. Thus, even if premise (1) turns out to be false, it is worthwhile trying to say just what is wrong with it, since that effort promises to illuminate the connection between appropriate love and value. The first aim of my dissertation, then, is to point out the central problem with Augustine’s argument and thereby illuminate this connection. The second aim of my dissertation is to give a positive justification of preferential love…(continue reading)

Dissertation Contents:

Introduction

Chapter 1: “Augustine on Loving Equally”

Chapter 2: “Love as a Twofold Tendency of Will”

Chapter 3: “The Operative Grounds of Love”

Chapter 4: “The Proper Grounds of Love”

Chapter 5: “A Problem with Augustine’s Argument”

Chapter 6: “On Relationships and Their Value”

Chapter 7: “On Loving Some People More than Others”

Conclusion

RESEARCH STATEMENT

In future research I plan to address several philosophical issues that have arisen from my dissertation work. First, I hope to address the question of whether love admits of judgments of rationality. For example, if one apprehended sufficient “reasons” for loving someone, would one be irrational for failing to love him? In part this is a question about whether it makes sense to talk about “reasons” for love at all. On the one hand, it seems contrary to the nature of love to say that one should—on pain of irrationality—love someone as a friend or romantic partner. On the other hand, it can seem puzzling why this is the case. After all, attitudes like admiration or pity seem subject to norms of rationality: if one admires Janet for her resilience in the face of difficulty, it seems one should also admire Beth who exhibits the same quality. If one did not also admire Beth, it seems one would be irrational, or at least inconsistent. The question then becomes, why think love is different from admiration in this respect?… (continue reading)