What’s Bad about Friendship with Bad People?

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 51 (7):523-534 (2021)
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Abstract

Is there something bad about being friends with seriously bad people? Intuitively, it seems so, but it is hard to see why this should be. This is especially the case since some other kinds of loving relationship with bad people look morally acceptable or even good. In this paper, I argue that friendship inherently involves taking one’s friends seriously, which involves openness to their beliefs, concerns, and subjective interests. Deeply immoral views and attitudes ought not to be taken seriously or considered as options, and I argue that this explains why being friends with bad people is itself morally problematic. I go on to contrast this with Jessica Isserow’s explanation of what’s bad about friendship with bad people, and I suggest that my account is better placed to explain why friendships with bad people are morally problematic but some other loving relationships with bad people are not.

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Cathy Mason
Central European University

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References found in this work

Modern Moral Philosophy.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1958 - Philosophy 33 (124):1 - 19.
Friendship and Moral Danger.Dean Cocking & Jeanette Kennett - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (5):278.
Friendship.Laurence Thomas - 1987 - Synthese 72 (2):217 - 236.

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