Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people

Brink (1999) criticizes Whiting’s account of friendship as tooimpersonal because it fails to understand the relationship offriendship itself to be intrinsically valuable. (For similarcriticisms, see Jeske 1997.) In part, the complaint is the same asthat which Friedman (1989) offered against any conception offriendship that bases that friendship on appraisals of thefriend’s properties (cf. the 3rd paragraph of above): such a conception of friendship subordinates our concern forthe friend to our concern for the values, thereby neglecting whatmakes friendship a distinctively personal relationship. GivenWhiting’s understanding of the sense in which friends sharevalues in terms of their appeal to the intrinsic and impersonal worthof those values, it seems that she cannot make much of the rebuttal toFriedman offered above: that I can subordinate my concern for certainvalues to my concern for my friend, thereby changing my values in partout of concern for my friend. Nonetheless, Brink’s criticismgoes deeper:

Friendship is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association

Friendship essentially involves a distinctive kind of concern for yourfriend, a concern which might reasonably be understood as a kind oflove. Philosophers from the ancient Greeks on have traditionallydistinguished three notions that can properly be called love:agape, eros, and philia. is a kind of love that does not respond to the antecedent value ofits object but instead is thought to create value in thebeloved; it has come through the Christian tradition to mean the sortof love God has for us persons as well as, by extension, our love forGod and our love for humankind in general. By contrast, and philia are generally understood to be responsive to themerits of their objects—to the beloved’s properties,especially his goodness or beauty. The difference is thateros is a kind of passionate desire for an object, typicallysexual in nature, whereas originally meant a kind of affectionate regard or friendly feelingtowards not just one’s friends but also possibly towards familymembers, business partners, and one’s country at large (Liddellet al., 1940; Cooper, 1977a). Given this classification of kinds oflove, philia seems to be that which is most clearly relevantto friendship (though just what philia amounts to needs to beclarified in more detail).


Do You Know Your Personal Values? - Myrko Thum

Human interaction is a necessity to survival, but developed friendships are essential to the successful well being of anyone.

For this reason, love and friendship often get lumped together as asingle topic; nonetheless, there are significant differences betweenthem. As understood here, love is an evaluative attitudedirected at particular persons as such, an attitude which we mighttake towards someone whether or not that love is reciprocated andwhether or not we have an established relationship with her.[] Friendship, by contrast, is essentially a kind ofrelationship grounded in a particular kind of special concerneach has for the other as the person she is; and whereas we must makeconceptual room for the idea of unrequited love, unrequited friendshipis senseless. Consequently, accounts of friendship tend to understandit not merely as a case of reciprocal love of some form (together withmutual acknowledgment of this love), but as essentially involvingsignificant interactions between the friends—as being in thissense a certain kind of relationship.


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At this point it might seem that the proper consequentialist reply tothis line of criticism is to refuse to accept the claim that a moraljustification of the value of friendship and friendly actions must bepersonal: the good of friendship and the good that friendly actionspromote, a consequentialist should say, are things we must be able tounderstand in impersonal terms or they would not enter into a properlymoral justification of the rightness of action. Becausesophisticated consequentialists agree that motivation out offriendship must be personal, they must reject the idea that theultimate moral reasons for acting in these cases are your motives,thereby rejecting the relatively weak motivational internalism that isimplicit in the friendship critique (for weak motivationalinternalism, see the entry on , and in particular the section on ). Indeed, this seems to be Railton’s strategy in articulating hisobjective consequentialism: to be a good person is to act inthe morally right ways (justified by consequentialism) and so to have,on balance, motivations that tend to produce right action, even thoughin certain cases (including those of friendship) these motivationsneed not—indeed cannot—have the consequentialistjustification in view. (For further elaborations of this strategy indirect response to Badhwar 1991, see Conee 2001 and Card 2004; for adefense of Railton in opposition to Card’s elaboration ofsophisticated consequentialism, see Tedesco 2006.)

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Badhwar (1991) thinks even Railton’s more sophisticatedconsequentialism ultimately fails to accommodate the phenomenon offriendship, and that the moral schizophrenia remains. For, she argues,a sophisticated consequentialist must both value the friend for thefriend’s sake (in order to be a friend at all) and value thefriend only so long as doing so is consistent with promoting the mostgood overall (in order to be a consequentialist).