Why it is wrong to be always guided by the best: Consequentialism and friendship

Ethics 101 (3):483-504 (1991)
I take friendship to be a practical and emotional relationship marked by mutual and (more-or-less) equal goodwill, liking, and pleasure. Friendship can exist between siblings, lovers, parent and adult child, as well as between otherwise unrelated people. Some friendships are valued chiefly for their usefulness. Such friendships are instrumental or means friendships. Other friendships are valued chiefly for their own sakes. Such friendships are noninstrumental or end friendships. In this paper I am concerned only with end friendships, and the challenge they pose to consequentialism. In an end friendship, one loves the friend as an essential part of one's system of ends, and not solely, or even primarily, as a means to an independent end - career advancement, amusement, philosophical illumination, or greater happiness in the universe. In such love, one loves the friend for the person she is, i.e., for her essential rather than incidental features. These include both her character traits - the fundamental intellectual, psychological, moral, and aesthetic qualities that constitute an individual's personality - and her unique perspective on herself and others: her view of the important and unimportant, her interest in herself and others. Thus in end friendship the friend cannot be replaced by another, for no other can have her essential features. Nor can she be replaced by a more efficient means to one's ends, or abandoned on their achievement, for it is not as a means that one 2 loves her. It is this necessary irreplaceability that most obviously marks off end friendship from means or instrumental friendship, in which the friend is replaceable.i Hence to love a friend as an end is to place a special value on her - to believe that her value is not outweighed, say, simply by the greater needs of others - or the needs of a greater number of others ("Sorry dear, there are more drowning on this end").ii End friendship (hereafter simply "friendship") is a cardinal human value..
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DOI 10.1086/293313
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