ABSTRACT

As we saw in the previous chapter, viewing love as the union of two individuals raises serious problems, partly because this view seems to erase the distinctions between individuals. When we talk about loving someone, we often mean something about how we relate to them – and to relate to someone, you have to see them as separate and distinct from yourself. In contrast, the concern theory of love leaves intact the lovers’ individuality and focuses instead on the specific caring attitudes and actions thought to characterize love. In concern theories, to love someone is to have a particular attitude toward them: wanting what is good for them, caring for them for their own sake. On this view, love affects a person’s reasons and motivations in a deep way, so that when they act for the other person, they are acting for their own reasons. This means that even though love compels a person to perform caring actions, those actions are free, autonomous, and rational: in these actions, the person who loves expresses who they are in the deepest sense, and does what they have most reason to do from their own point of view.