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Pettit on Love and Its Value: A Critical Assessment

Sven Nyholm

Abstract

Philip Pettit has identified some interesting apparent commonalities among core human values like love, friendship, virtue, and respect. These are all, Pettit argues, ‘robustly demanding’: they require us to provide certain benefits across ranges of alternative scenarios. Pettit also suggests a general ‘rationale’ for valuing such goods, which draws on his work on freedom. In this paper, I zoom in on love in particular. I critically assess whether Pettit’s schematic account of love’s value adequately captures what we typically value in valuing love. And I scrutinize the analogy Pettit suggests between the rationale for valuing freedom and his rationale for valuing love. My conclusion is that whereas Pettit’s account of love and its value does not strictly speaking contain false propositions, it ends up being a somewhat skewed account of love’s value. Finally, I bring up some widely discussed aspects of love’s value not captured by Pettit’s account.

Acknowledgements

I thank the journal’s anonymous reviewers and the guest editors for their helpful feedback on this paper.

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Published Online: 2018-6-14
Published in Print: 2018-6-26

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