Murdochian Presentationalism, Autonomy, and the Ideal Lovers' Pledge

In T. Raja Rosenhagen, Rachel Fedock & Michael Kühler (eds.), Love, Justice, and Autonomy. Philosophical Perspectives. New York, NY, USA: Routledge. pp. 102-130 (2021)
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Abstract

How to conceptualize loving relationships so as to accommodate that just love is geared toward preserving and fostering individual autonomy? To develop an answer, this paper draws on the recent debate on the rational role of experience to motivate a view dubbed Murdochian presentationalism. Murdochian presentationalism takes seriously two presentationalist ideas: 1) individuals harboring different world views who respond to identical situations differently can be equally rational; 2) our views and concepts develop under the constant pressure of experience. It combines these ideas with Murdoch’s tenet that coming to know others (and thus being able to do well by them) requires unselfish love, construed as just attention that involves a continuous refinement of our evaluative concepts and makes us better attuned to what is real. Complemented with a broadly Kantian notion of autonomy, the resulting view fits the bill. The paper ends on a sketch of what is dubbed the ideal lovers’ pledge and a comment on what metaphor the view arrived at suggests for thinking about loving relationships.

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T. Raja Rosenhagen
Ashoka University (Sonipat, India)

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