Lost without you: the Value of Falling out of Love

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (3-4):1-15 (2020)
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In this paper we develop a view about the disorientation attached to the process of falling out of love and explain its prudential and moral value. We start with a brief background on theories of love and situate our argument within the views concerned with the lovers’ identities. Namely, love changes who we are. In the context of our paper, we explain this common tenet in the philosophy of love as a change in the lovers’ self-concepts through a process of mutual shaping. This, however, is potentially dangerous for people involved in what we call ‘subsuming relationships’, who give up too much autonomy in the process of mutual shaping. We then move on to show how, through the relation between love and the self-concept, we can explain why the process of falling out of love with someone is so disorientating: when one is falling out of love, one loses an important point of reference for self-understanding. While this disorientating process is typically taken to be harmful to the person experiencing it, we will explain how it can also have moral and prudential value. By re-evaluating who we were in the relationship and who we are now, we can escape from oppressive practices in subsuming relationships. We finish by arguing that this gives us reason to be wary of seeking to re-orient ourselves -or others- too quickly after falling out of love.

Author Profiles

Pilar Lopez-Cantero
Tilburg University
Alfred Archer
Tilburg University


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