Balancing Special Obligations with the Ideal of Agape

Journal of Religious Ethics 26 (1):17 - 46 (1998)
Abstract
Utilizing Meilaender's typology of ways of relating universal impartial love to the preferential love of particular special relations, the author agrees with Outka in rejecting the first strategy of "building down" from agape by construing special relations as an application of agape. Considering Gewirth as a representative of the "build around" strategy of using universal regard as the limiting principle that constrains the preferential treatment of special relations, she tracks the internal inconsistencies that haunt this approach. The "build up" strategy of moving from particular to universal love is criticized in the form in which it appears in Plato's "Symposium" but commended in a more phenomenological version, which suggests a model of balance that is supported by the work of Gilligan and Benhabib.
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