Philosophy of Love (Spring 2013)

Philosophy of Love

FYS 100-18 (CRN#21821) | TR 2-3:50 PM | Horace Mann 189 | Spring 2013

Course Syllabus

Instructor: Dr. Aaron Smuts | | office hours: 219 Alger Hall, 12:30-1:30 TR


What is love? How are love of friends, children, and romantic partners similar or different? What about love for God? This course will critically examine such questions as: Can love be rationally justified? Is love a response to value recognized, or is it a projection of value onto the beloved? Is love ever morally required? Consider a parent's love or a spouse's love. Should we love our family more than strangers? What about members of our country or our race? Is love even under our control at all? Would love caused by a potion be deficient? We will explore theories of emotion, value, rationality, authenticity, and partiality.


There are seven required books for this course:

  1. Plato, Symposium, trans. Nehamas and Woodruff (Hackett, 1989). ISBN: 0872200760 [S] [buy]

  2. Frankfurt, Reasons of Love (Princeton UP, 2004). ISBN: 0691126240 [RL] [buy]

  3. Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream (Washington Square Press, 1993). ISBN: 0743482816 [MSND] [buy]

  4. Solomon and Higgens, eds., The Philosophy of Erotic Love (UP Kansas, 1991). ISBN: 0700604804 [PEL] [buy]

  5. Soble, ed., Eros, Agape, and Philia: Readings in the Philosophy of Love (Paragon House 1989) ISBN: 1557782784 [EAP] [buy]

  6. Badhwar, ed., Friendship: A Philosophical Reader (Cornell UP, 1993) ISBN: 0801490973 [FPR] [buy]

  7. Andrew Lawrence Roberts. The Thinking Student's Guide to College: 75 Tips for Getting a Better Education. University Of Chicago Press, 2010. ISBN-10: 0226721159. [buy]

I will post numerous additional readings on Blackboard. [BB]


There will be two different forms of coursework: (best 20 out of 26) daily quizzes and three take-home examinations. I will give a short quiz at the beginning of each class that will require one or two sentence answers. The quizzes are closed-book, but open-note. The bulk of your grade comes from the take-home exams. All assignments must be completed to pass the course.

Quizzes (10%) + warm up paper (5%) + first exam (25%) + late-term exam (30%) + final exam (30%).

I encourage students who are doing well to write a term paper in place of the final exam. If you chose this option, please let me know before Spring break. I'll help you refine your topic and develop an outline. You must give me an abstract and a rough outline one month before the final exam period. I will not accept a term paper otherwise.

Attendance Policy

Although I record every class meeting, attendance is required. If you miss 6 or more classes, you will receive a 0 for your quiz grade. If you miss 12 or more classes, you will receive an F for the course. (There are no excused or unexcused absences. But please talk to me if something major comes up that dramatically effect your attendance.)

Laptop Policy

Laptop use is prohibited. The same goes for tablet computers and smart phones. Consider this rehab for Facebook addiction. You should print the articles posted on Blackboard and bring them to class.

Academic Honesty

Plagiarism—claiming someone else’s ideas or written work as your own—will not be tolerated. The tests are not collaborative. All sources must be cited. Anyone caught cheating will be given a failing grade in the course. I am also required to report you to the Vice President of Academic Affairs. But I would report you even if it was optional. Plagiarism is a serious offense.

Class Schedule (tentative)

* The readings for each class are nested under the date. You should do the readings before class. There will be a quiz every class.

Topic I. Varieties of Love

  • Week 1

    • T: C1 (1/22): Introduction and Overview

      • Readings

        • Bennett Helm, "Love" (SEP)

      • Further Reading

    • R: C2 (1/24): Eros, Philia, Agape

  • Week 2

Topic II. The Nature of Romantic Love

  • Week 3.

    • T: C5 (2/5): Theories of Love

      • Readings

        • Plato, Symposium (read it all) [S]

    • R: C6 (2/7): Theories of Love

  • Week 4.

    • T: C7 (2/12): Union Theories

    • R: C8 (2/14): Concern Theories

      • Readings

        • Bennett Helm, “Love, Identification, and the Emotions” [BB]

  • Week 5.

    • T: C9 (2/19): Emotion Theories

      • Readings

      • Further Reading

        • D. W. Hamlyn, "The Phenomena of Love and Hate" [EAP]

        • Aaron Ben-Ze'ev, "Hating the One You Love" [BB]

        • Aaron Ben-Ze'ev, "Anger and Hate" [BB]

        • Annette Baier, "Unsafe Loves" [PEL]

        • O. H. Greene, "Is Love an Emotion?" [BB]

Topic III. Recognition or Bestowal

    • R: C10 (2/21): Appraisal or Bestowal

  • Week 7.

  • Week 7.

    • T: C13 (3/5): Bestowal

    • R: C14 (3/7): Bestowal

      • Readings

        • Harry Frankfurt, Reasons of Love, ch. 3 (pp.69-100) [RL]

        • Niko Kolodny, "Love as a Valuing Relationship" (pp.142-6) [BB]

  • Week 8 ***SPRING BREAK 3/11-1/15***

  • Week 9.

    • T: C15 (3/19): Bestowal

      • Readings

        • Harry Frankfurt, "On Caring" [BB]

    • R: C16 (3/21): The Value of the Beloved

Topic IV. Rational Justification of Love

  • Week 9.

    • T: C17: (3/26): Justifying Love

      • Readings

        • Sappho, "Hymn to Aphrodite" [EAP]

        • Laurence Thomas, "Reasons for Loving" [PEL]

      • Further Reading

        • Gabriele Taylor, "Love" [BB]

        • Gabriele Taylor, "Justifying Emotions" [BB]

        • George Pitcher, "Emotion" [BB]

        • Neil Delaney, "Romantic Love and Loving Commitment" [BB]

    • R: C18: (3/28): The Object of Love

      • Readings

      • Further Readings

        • Amelie Rorty, "The Historicity of Psychological Attitudes" [FPR]

        • Aaron Smuts, "In Defense of the No-Reasons View" [BB]

        • Michelle Montague, "Against Propositionalism" [BB]

  • Week 10.

    • T: C19 (4/2): Irreplaceability

      • Readings

        • Chris Grau, “Irreplaceability and Unique Value” [BB]

      • Further Reading

        • Niko Kolodny, "Love as a Valuing Relationship" (pp.135-142) [BB]

        • Joseph Raz, "Attachment and Uniqueness" [BB]

    • R: C20 (4/4): Ethology

      • Readings

        • Konrad Lorenz, "The Perennial Retainers," Ch.11 of King Solomon's Ring [BB]

      • Further Reading

  • Week 11.

    • T: C21 (4/9): A Fairy Interlude

      • Readings

        • Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream (Acts 1-3)

    • R: C22 (4/11): A Fairy Interlude

      • Readings

        • Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream (Acts 4-5)

      • Further Reading

        • Schopenhauer, (selections) [PEL]

        • Irvine, “The Ebb and Flow of Desire” [BB]

        • Aaron Smuts, "Love and Free Will" [BB]

  • Week 12.

    • T: C23 (4/16): Falling in Love

      • Reading

        • Robert Solomon, “Falling in Love,” About Love (pp. 129-194) [BB]

      • Further Reading

        • Geoffrey Gorer, "On Falling in Love" [EAP]

    • R: C24 (4/18): Falling in Love

      • Reading

        • Edward Sankowski, "Love and Moral Obligation" [BB]

      • Further Reading

        • Edward Sankowski, "Responsibility of Persons for Their Emotions" [BB]

Topic V. Partiality

  • Week 14.

    • T: C25 (4/23): Partiality and Welfare

      • Readings

        • John Cottingham, "Partiality, Favoritism, and Morality" [BB]

      • Further Reading

        • John Cottingham, "Ethics and Impartiality" [BB]

        • Andrew Oldenquist, "Loyalties" [BB]

    • R: C26 (4/25): Morality and Friendship

      • Readings

        • Dean Cocking and Jeanette Kennett, "Friendship and Moral Danger" [BB]

      • Further Reading

        • Susan Wolf, "Morality and Partiality" [BB]

        • Bernard Williams, "Persons, Character and Morality" [BB]

  • Week 15.

    • T: C27 (4/30): Shared History and Partiality

      • Readings

        • Tom Hurka, "The Justification of National Partiality" [BB]

      • Further Reading

        • C. D. Broad, "The Self and Others" [BB]

        • Niko Kolodny, "Which Relationships Justify Partiality?" [BB]

        • Samuel Scheffler, "Morality and Reasonable Partiality" [BB]

      • Music

    • R: C28 (5/2): Relationships and Partiality

      • Readings

        • Diane Jeske, "Friendship, Virtue, and Impartiality" [BB]

      • Further Reading

        • Troy Jollimore, "Friendships Without Partiality?" [BB]