Ethics In Focus: Friendship Reconsidered

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Ethics In Focus: Friendship Reconsidered

<p>How do you establish and maintain your friendship? You might think that you become friends with someone because you love him/her. But you might also think that you must respect your friend to

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How do you establish and maintain your friendship? You might think that you become friends with someone because you love him/her. But you might also think that you must respect your friend to maintain your friendship. Can you love your friend too much? If you respect your friend too much, don’t you feel you are distanced from each other? The aim of this course is to learn how Kant and his predecessor argue about the intricate nature of friendship, and to consider the plausibility of their claims. This course is not just about learning philosophy, but about philosophising for yourself.


SUGGESTED READING

  • Baumgarten, A. G.: Ethica philosophica [Philosophical Ethics], 3rd Ed. (Halle, 1763) [As there is no translation of this work into a modern language, I will provide my own]
  • Kant, I.: Metaphysics of Morals. (Cambridge University Press, 1996)
  • Kant, I.: Critique of Practical Reason. (Cambridge University Press, 2015)


COURSE OUTLINE

  • Share your own experience about friendship: How do you establish your friendship with someone? How do you maintain it? What are the roles of love and respect in your friendship?
  • Kant’s view on love: There are two kinds of love, one being universal and the other particular. Love of humanity and love of a particular person are different in kinds.
  • Is there such thing as ‘excessive love’?: Can you love yourself too much? If not, what restricts you from doing so? Can you love others too much? If not, what prevents you from doing so?
  • Kant’s view on respect: There are two kinds of respect, one being universal and the other particular. How we respect a person qua a person, that is, respect him/her in so far as he/she is a rational being, and how we respect a person qua singularity, that is, respect him/her as someone we actually care about in our life, are different in kinds. In the former sense of respect, Kant claims you must respect anyone, even if he/she is a criminal.
  • Kant’s view on friendship: Friendship is constituted by love and respect. Kant describes love and respect in friendship as the ‘moral forces’ by comparing them with attraction and repulsion as the physical forces. It is in this context that we must understand Kant’s definitions of love as ‘coming closer’ and of respect as ‘keeping distance from one another’. In friendship, then, we must aim at the perfect balance between love and respect.
  • Reflect on your views on duty: Have you changed your views since the beginning of the course? Why or why not?


PLANNED LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Understand some of the major theories and debates in philosophical accounts of the concept of friendship.
  2. Understand and analyse arguments in the relevant literatures.
  3. Evaluate these theories and arguments critically.
  4. Develop their own views and arguments through consideration and analysis of the views and arguments presented in the course.
  5. Engage constructively and respectfully with the views and arguments of others, even if you disagree with them.