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Persons as Objects of Love

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image of Journal of Moral Philosophy

Recent attempts to view personal love as a response to value fail to capture the lover's distinctive compulsion to intimacy with the beloved. Their common mistake is to hold that the grounding value of love must be other than the beloved person herself. This view condemns theorists to describe an attachment comparatively impersonal and undiscerning. The present paper argues that the beloved person is the object of love, particularly when she is regarded in light of her virtues. Virtues are aspects of character that embody the unique value of the person they help constitute and cannot be valued appreciably apart from her. One person can love another for her virtues, indeed for the goodness that lies within them without loving her for something that someone else could instantiate.


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