Making Room for Love in Kantian Ethics

In Simon Cushing (ed.), New Philosophical Essays on Love and Loving. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 25-37 (2021)
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What place, if any, does love have in Kantian ethics? This chapter is divided into three parts. First, I discuss Kant’s own account of moral versus non-moral love as found throughout his various writings and show how this closely parallels his account of moral versus non-moral friendship. Second, I discuss contemporary Kantian accounts of both friendship and love, highlighting how they go beyond, and in some ways seem to significantly improve upon, Kant’s own views via their appeal to Kant’s Formula of Humanity. Lastly, I discuss the overall merits of what I call ‘Kantian moral love’. I argue that while Kantian moral love might rightly identify, from the moral point of view, how we ought to act and think when loving other people, it fails to provide a complete account of love, crucially leaving out certain key elements from the wide range of loving relationships we find ourselves in, especially romantic love. That is, while Kantian moral love might successfully identify a morally ideal way to love other people, it falls short of capturing the full essence of love—mainly because love is not simply a moral affair but also a matter of the heart.



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Ernesto V. Garcia
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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