Read the following short essay, and then write a 3-5 page response (12-point font, double-spaced,
normal margins, no cover page, no binders). Your response should do the following three things: (1)
state what the main conclusion of the essay is; (2) state what the most important premises (including
sub-conclusions) are—i.e., state which premises are most important if the argument is to rationally
convince its audience; (3) evaluate the quality of the argument, giving detailed reasons to justify your
evaluation. For purposes of evaluation, assume that the speaker is a philosopher named Tim
Schroeder, and that the audience is you, the class, as a group.
Tim Schroeder
Here are three things that everyone knows about love: love is an emotion, you don‟t have emotions
while you are in dreamless sleep, and you don‟t stop loving someone when you fall into a dreamless
sleep. But these three things are clearly inconsistent. Consequently, at least one of these commonly
believed ideas cannot be correct.
That you do not have emotions while you are in dreamless sleep is, I assume, obvious. No one
would point to a person in a coma and say, “Gee, he‟s really emotional!” Emotions are things that
essentially involve certain experiences, like feeling your heart pound, or feeling great, or whatnot. So
I won‟t say any more about this idea.
What about the idea that you don‟t stop loving someone when you fall into a dreamless sleep? This, I
assume, is even more obvious than the previous idea about emotions. Just imagine that one person
cheated on another, and then gave the excuse, “Well, you were asleep, so you didn‟t love me. Why
did I owe you anything?” Or imagine that someone told you “Don‟t go to sleep: I want our love to last
as long as it can!”
It must be the case that love is not an emotion. But if love is not an emotion, what is it? Many
different answers have been given. Some people say that to love is to be the kind of person who has
certain feelings. But which feelings would those be? You might love someone and feel happy
(because things are going well), or feel sad (because they aren‟t), or feel angry (because your
beloved is toying with you) or anything else. Loving someone doesn‟t guarantee that you will have
any particular feelings in a particular context. Some people say that to love is a special closeness
between two people. Certainly, love is a special closeness, but “a special closeness” is a bit unclear.
The word „close‟ here is a metaphor—you don‟t become closer to someone in this sense by being
stapled together—and the word „special‟ is fairly non-specific. So while love certainly is a special
closeness, there is a lot more to be said about it.
Here is a proposal: for A to love B is for A to very much want what is best for B, and to want it for B‟s
own sake. Let me explain. The first thing to say is that A and B don‟t have to be people. Of course,
rocks and stones can‟t love, but maybe chimpanzees and dogs can, and other animals, for all I
know. More interestingly, people aren‟t the only things that can be loved. Non-human animals can
certainly be loved, and a person can love her country, or justice, or even a stone, I suppose. All that
is necessary is that the person very much want what is best for that country, for justice, or for that
stone. Now, I should mention here that people often use the word „love‟ in a more metaphorical
sense, saying “I love triple ripple vanilla road monkey ice cream” or “I love my job” or whatever.
These people are normally just saying they like these things, not that they literally love them. But it is
possible to literally love an inanimate object, or even an abstract concept: all that is required is to
care very much about the welfare of that thing. This naturally brings me to the issue of what is best
for something. For a person, it is understandable how a parent could want what is best for his child,
or how a girlfriend could want what is best for her boyfriend: this just comes to what the person
thinks is best. But how can you want what is best for justice? Well, I assume that you would want
justice to be done, you would want people to pay attention to whether there is injustice in the world
and care about injustice, and so on. What‟s important to love is not whether there is some objective
thing that is best for the beloved, but whether the lover genuinely wants what the lover takes to beCritical Thinking PHIL 1290 Final Exam 2
best for the beloved. Finally, when I say the lover has to want what is best for the beloved for the
beloved‟s own sake, I am ruling out cases in which one person cares about another‟s well-being, but
only for some other reason. A bodyguard might want the person she guards to be healthy,
successful, etc., but only (generally) because that gets the bodyguard money. The bodyguard
(generally) doesn‟t care about the guarded person for the guarded person‟s own sake, and so does
not (generally) love the guarded person.
My theory about the nature of love does not come with any strong philosophical credentials. There is
one famous philosopher, Harry Frankfurt of Princeton University, who has proposed quite a similar
theory, but it is not identical. Other philosophers with well-known theories of love, such as Robert
Solomon or, to go back a bit, Plato, have quite different theories. So I cannot claim any particular
support from powerful authorities. On the other hand, it does seem to me that the more you think about
this theory of mine, the more right it will seem. It just fits.
For one example, consider the relation between love and feelings. As I said a moment ago, love can
make you feel happy, sad, angry, and so on. If loving someone is very much wanting what is best for
that person, these feelings make sense. If your lover gets what is best for him, that naturally makes
you happy, because it is something you very much want. If your literally loved cause is harmed,
naturally you will feel sad, because you very much wanted that not to happen. If your romantic partner
toys with you, you may feel angry because she or he is endangering something which you think is good
for her or him, namely, the relationship. Of course, you may also be angry for a simpler reason,
namely, that you don‟t want to be treated like that. But this just allows us to illustrate the difference
between emotions you feel when you love someone (or something) because of your love, versus those
you feel which are incidental to your love. If you feel happy when your beloved wins the lottery, that can
be an expression of your love (you see that the money will benefit your beloved), or it can be an
expression of your materialistic nature (you look forward to all the neat stuff you will be bought). If we
follow this line of thinking, we can see that some emotions which often come with love, like jealousy,
are never expressions of love, because they are not reactions to the beloved being better or worse off.
Instead, they are expressions of selfishness, or of natural possessiveness: other concerns, which are
normal, but which are certainly not love.
Tips: If you think the argument is bad, focus most of your attention on the most important premises
(showing why they are false claims or insufficient evidence), and consider possible counter-examples
you might raise. If you think the argument is good, focus most of your attention on showing that
potentially controversial premises really are true (provide supporting arguments for the truth of the
premises) or on considering objections that might be raised, going on to show that these objections do
not work to defeat the conclusion.
Note: You may wish to consult your fellow students, parents, or friends about your assignment. Feel
free to do so. However (and this is crucial), any help you get must be acknowledged in your paper. If
your mom reads your paper over to check your grammar, include a footnote or endnote thanking her
for this service. If you discuss the general ideas you have with a friend, write “Thanks to Lisa Kudrow
for a helpful discussion” or something of the sort. If you borrow a specific idea from someone, put in a
footnote saying “I got this idea from Mark Improvement” or whoever. Also important: although I‟m all
in favour of talking about philosophy assignments with others, you are not permitted to actually write
papers together, or to write up shared outlines, or to share written work with one another. Be sensible
here: don‟t give a photocopy of your essay to someone else who “just wants to get an idea” for his own
paper. Conversation is good for thought; shared written work is a good way to get charged with

Use the order calculator below and get started! Contact our live support team for any assistance or inquiry.