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date: 19 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Is there a principled framework for understanding the distinction between mere caring and love? This chapter critically assesses extant accounts, showing that the distinctive requirements for love that they propose are either insufficient or unnecessary. After identifying and exploring views that describe types of intimacy that suffice, but are too demanding to deem necessary, for love, this chapter develops a more ecumenical proposal for love’s distinctive character that unifies a central insight in the preceding views. On this proposal, the feature that is necessary and sufficient to distinguish love from mere caring is conceived in terms of love’s intimacy as reflected in a specific form of vulnerability. The lover, but not the mere carer, is subject to damage in her sense of herself as an agent leading a meaningful life directly in virtue of being permanently separated from the relevant object or in virtue of that object faring poorly.

Keywords: love, caring, intimacy, vulnerability, need, identity, emotion, valuing, agency, meaningful life

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