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Ethics and Political Philosophy


Beginning from the premise that moral deliberation and action have their roots in the recognition of persons, this paper argues that love deserves to stand on equal footing with respect as a mode of moral recognition. I argue first that as attitudes, respect and love are modes of moral recognition responding to specific others. They thus have similar epistemologies, but are distinguished by their positions along a concrete-abstract axis. In particular, I claim, respect is an attitude that recognizes another as a person, whereas love is an attitude that recognizes another as the person they are. Both attitudes check the ego as they encounter a particular other. And both attitudes are moral in the sense that they require certain kinds of behavior toward the others whom we respect or love.

The problem with casting both love and respect as attitudes directed toward particular others in relatively intimate encounters is that they seem to lose some of their moral leverage, because we do not (and cannot) regularly have such encounters with most people we interact with. This motivates a second argument: that both respect and love have practical counterparts in the normative practices of justice and care, respectively.