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In "The Little Prince" by Antoine de saint Exupery, there's a quotation like

In "The Little Prince" by Antoine de saint Exupery, there's a quotation like this: "You should be responsible for something you've tamed." I think it could be interpreted that, you have to be responsible towards someone you've already made fall in love (with you). But in what extend should we care so much towards people who love us? Especially if we do not feel the love for them.

A person in love with you is likely to be vulnerable to you, easy prey for your abuse and exploitation. Your first responsibility toward the person you have made fall in love with you is the responsibility not to take advantage of this person's special vulnerability to you. This responsibility is all the harder to deny because it does not require much effort on your part. You can just be -- gently -- honest about your feelings and then keep your distance.

If you were rather active and deliberate in making the other fall in love with you, then you may in a sense be and/or feel responsible for her unhappiness. And this may seem to be a reason to show care and concern for the other, even at some cost to your own life and ambitions. But then you must also ask yourself whether you can be confident that you (of all people!) can make a real contribution toward helping the other get over the unhappy situation. Without such confidence, it may be best just to make do with the above simpler responsibilities: do not take advantage and be gently honest.

A person in love with you is likely to be vulnerable to you, easy prey for your abuse and exploitation. Your first responsibility toward the person you have made fall in love with you is the responsibility not to take advantage of this person's special vulnerability to you. This responsibility is all the harder to deny because it does not require much effort on your part. You can just be -- gently -- honest about your feelings and then keep your distance. If you were rather active and deliberate in making the other fall in love with you, then you may in a sense be and/or feel responsible for her unhappiness. And this may seem to be a reason to show care and concern for the other, even at some cost to your own life and ambitions. But then you must also ask yourself whether you can be confident that you (of all people!) can make a real contribution toward helping the other get over the unhappy situation. Without such confidence, it may be best just to make do with the above simpler responsibilities:...

Is it unethical to not tell your date that you are not interested in a long term

Is it unethical to not tell your date that you are not interested in a long term relationship with them until they start developing feelings for you?

This would really depend on the expectations one's conduct gives rise to. These are initially the expectations that it would be reasonable to have in the society and subculture in question. Thus, if a college student from Montana is spending spring break in Florida and there dating someone from Oklahoma, for example, then the reasonable expectation would be that the relationship is a fling that will not lead to a long-term relationship. On the other hand, if two young Amish people from neighboring villages in Pennsylvania are dating each other, then the reasonable expectation would be that they are contemplating a life-long bond. Most cases obviously are somewhere in-between in that it is somewhat unclear what counts as normal in the relevant context.

It is helpful here that, as the dating proceeds, the two persons may learn a lot about each other and, in particular, about each other's actual expectations. These may differ from the reasonable expectations, which are (roughly speaking) based on statistical probabilities. Our college student from Montana may find to her surprise that her date from Oklahoma is looking for a long-term relationship. That Oklohoma student may harbor the false belief that most college students spending spring break in Florida are looking for a lasting relationship or may harbor the false belief that she and the Montana student share the conviction that dating is meaningful only when there is the firm hope for a long-lasting relationship. Once this dawns on the Montana student, she ought to clarify the situation even if her partner's expectation is, under the circumstances, quite unreasonable. Failing to do this, she would be knowingly misleading the student from Oklahoma.

In other words, it is OK not to tell so long as you have good reason to believe that your partner already understands. In case of doubt, do tell or at least try to find out more about your partner's expectations.

This would really depend on the expectations one's conduct gives rise to. These are initially the expectations that it would be reasonable to have in the society and subculture in question. Thus, if a college student from Montana is spending spring break in Florida and there dating someone from Oklahoma, for example, then the reasonable expectation would be that the relationship is a fling that will not lead to a long-term relationship. On the other hand, if two young Amish people from neighboring villages in Pennsylvania are dating each other, then the reasonable expectation would be that they are contemplating a life-long bond. Most cases obviously are somewhere in-between in that it is somewhat unclear what counts as normal in the relevant context. It is helpful here that, as the dating proceeds, the two persons may learn a lot about each other and, in particular, about each other's actual expectations. These may differ from the reasonable expectations, which are (roughly speaking) based on...

Dear philosophers,

Dear philosophers, I have a question about keeping secrets. Can hiding a secret from the person you love most (which is something in your mind and not in connected to your behavior) be an immoral ACT? If yes, in which ways? Thank you very much in advance.

You capitalize the word "act", so maybe what you are wondering about is whether hiding something can be classified as an act or whether it should always be classified as an omission. This question of classification could be important if you give weight (as most do) to the distinction between (actively) harming someone and (passively) failing to benefit them. I can see two ways of reaching the conclusion that, in some cases, hiding a secret is active.

Sometimes a failure to act comes on the heels of an explicit or implicit undertaking to act. Here it can be natural to look at the combination of the undertaking and the failure to live up to it as one act. For example, a rich guy invites the guests on his yacht to take a swim, assuring them that he'll throw them a rope when they'll have enough so they can climb back on board. He then fails to throw that rope and they drown. In this case, failure to throw the rope (or the combination of reassurance followed by this failure) should be classified as an active killing rather than merely an instance of letting die. Similarly, suppose you promise you'll speak up for your friend next time others will tease her about her teeth but, when she does get so teased a little later, you remain silent. This conduct could be described not merely as a (passive) failure to protect your friend but also as an active misleading of her. This is relevant to your secrets case because you may have actively led the person you love most to rely on your not keeping certain secrets from him/her -- not through some explicit promise, perhaps, but through other things that passed between you.

Sometimes the hiding (as with Easter eggs) is itself active. You may steer the conversation away from certain topics, you may express disapproval of some character in a novel for hiding something from her close friend (perhaps something similar to what you are hiding from the one you love), thereby reinforcing your loved one's belief that you would not do such a thing, and so on. In short, you may consciously or unconsciously engage in various forms of active hiding, and these would constitute acts rather than omissions.

Now when a hiding is an act, can it be immoral? Sure. Suppose the person in question is your mother. You find out, but she does not, that your father has engaged in some extra-marital sex tourism and is now HIV-positive. He begs you not to tell your mother, largely because he has been living well thanks to your mother's well-paying job and does not want to be reduced to his own much weaker earning potential. You realize that your father is a rogue, but you have a soft spot for him and also dread the blow-up that you would surely trigger by informing your mother. So you collaborate marginally in your father's deceit, help explain away his visits to the doctor and let him keep his pills in a pill container with your name on it (so when your mother sees the container, she thinks that, in accordance with the label, these are some antibiotics you occasionally use). Here you would rather obviously be acting immorally.

This answers your question. Hiding a secret can be an immoral act. But it is important to add that even active hiding of a secret may not be immoral. To give another example, suppose the person in question is your husband. He's had quite a conservative upbringing which included strong normative expectations that women (and perhaps men as well) ought not to have any romantic experiences before marriage. You come from a somewhat different background and, when you were 15, you reenacted a movie kiss with a boy you were close friends with. The kiss wasn't much of a kiss because neither of you really knew what you were supposed to be doing, and you gave up after half a minute with the conclusion that adults are strange creatures. Loving your husband and knowing him intimately, you know that this sweet innocent story (and the erstwhile boy is quite distant now emotionally and geographically, and there was nothing else until you met your husband) would be difficult for him to cope with. He would understand and forgive and reassure you that there really isn't even anything to forgive but, given his upbringing, the story would haunt him and thereby your relationship. As this case shows, hiding a secret -- even from the person you love most, and even with some active misleading -- can be perfectly alright, morally.

You capitalize the word "act", so maybe what you are wondering about is whether hiding something can be classified as an act or whether it should always be classified as an omission. This question of classification could be important if you give weight (as most do) to the distinction between (actively) harming someone and (passively) failing to benefit them. I can see two ways of reaching the conclusion that, in some cases, hiding a secret is active. Sometimes a failure to act comes on the heels of an explicit or implicit undertaking to act. Here it can be natural to look at the combination of the undertaking and the failure to live up to it as one act. For example, a rich guy invites the guests on his yacht to take a swim, assuring them that he'll throw them a rope when they'll have enough so they can climb back on board. He then fails to throw that rope and they drown. In this case, failure to throw the rope (or the combination of reassurance followed by this failure) should be classified as an...

hi.oh god thanks for finding people whom i can talk to.

hi.oh god thanks for finding people whom i can talk to. i'm a single man.i'm in a relationship with a married woman who has a 7 years old child too.as a matter of fact i knew her as the love of my life since 5 years before her marriage.we could not get married together because of the social issues.and i never forget her for about 8 years after her marriage although i walked out of her life.but now this love relationship starts about 2 years ago again and since then i'm with her by her will as she starts it.i'm dying for her and she is the same but she has a life with a reasonable man and a child and she has no reasonable reason(socially)to leave that life.i can distinguish that how hard it is for her to continue this.morally she cant be with me and emotionally she wants to be.i loved her about 15 years (5 years before her husband even know her).i dont want her to be hurt.it doesnt matter that i'm a victim.what should i do for her.if i quit,she will hurt.if i dont she will hurt.what should i do to reach...

The existing situation is bad in at least two ways. First, your lover is deceiving her husband and the father of her child who is, as you put it, a reasonable man. He deserves better. If his wife does not love him, he should know this and have a chance to plan the rest of his life in light of this knowledge. Second, your affair is likely to come to light at some point, and this might have much worse consequences for all involved, including the child, than a frank confession.

I see two potential ways out of the problematic situation. First, you can agree to end the affair. You can still write each other, see each other occasionally, perhaps, but you should then try to meet the husband and make quite sure that there is no return to a romantic relationship. If this is unworkable, this first option would call for a complete end of the relationship.

Second, you could agree to marry each other after a divorce. You write that this was not workable earlier "because of the social issues". I don't know what social issues these are (feel free to write in more detail about them), but if you really love each other, then perhaps it's worth working really hard on breaking through them.

The existing situation is bad in at least two ways. First, your lover is deceiving her husband and the father of her child who is, as you put it, a reasonable man. He deserves better. If his wife does not love him, he should know this and have a chance to plan the rest of his life in light of this knowledge. Second, your affair is likely to come to light at some point, and this might have much worse consequences for all involved, including the child, than a frank confession. I see two potential ways out of the problematic situation. First, you can agree to end the affair. You can still write each other, see each other occasionally, perhaps, but you should then try to meet the husband and make quite sure that there is no return to a romantic relationship. If this is unworkable, this first option would call for a complete end of the relationship. Second, you could agree to marry each other after a divorce. You write that this was not workable earlier "because of the social issues". I don't know...

My current relationship never had the sparks. I was never excited around him.

My current relationship never had the sparks. I was never excited around him. He was very religious and would not even let me sit close enough to see if I liked him in ‘that way’. I met him when I first came to this city, however, we didn’t really seem like we hit off a friendship and lost touch. But after my first semester at college we accidently ran into each other at a common restaurant. We sort of became friends, although not very close. One of my friends at the time really did some things to let me down, and the person I’m now married to ‘came to the rescue.’ He told me that he could not be my friend without marring me because he was in love with me. I told him I was not ready and I wanted to wait for college to be over, but he brought up that it would be better to live together to pay half the bills and not be alone. I thought that was a good idea, and that I would eventually fall in love because we’d get to know each other and even if there’s not a romantic lust we’d learn to love each...

From the description you give, it does not sound to me like your husband is, or ever was, in love with you. You might at least consider the possibility that his insistence on marriage -- "he could not be my friend without marring me because he was in love with me" -- was driven more by his immigration issues than by any combination of love and religion. Should this be the case, then you have no substantial obligation to stay. You are under no obligation to marry someone to help him get a desired citizenship. Nor do you have strong moral reason to stick to a commitment you once made to him if in making it you relied upon deceptive or misleading statements by him.

Even if he is, in some sparkless way, in love with you, you are not in love with him. You should have a real chance to be an A student again, to fall in love, to have a bright life with sparks. What you are missing seems rather more substantial than the benefit he derives from your sacrifice. Moreover, by deciding against giving even more years of your life to keep him safe from the immigration authorities, you are not doing him a harm but merely cutting short a benefit he has been enjoying during your marriage.

You know him and your situation much better than I could. So take the above as light suggestions for how you might think through the whole question anew. Your own best judgment should be decisive.

From the description you give, it does not sound to me like your husband is, or ever was, in love with you. You might at least consider the possibility that his insistence on marriage -- "he could not be my friend without marring me because he was in love with me" -- was driven more by his immigration issues than by any combination of love and religion. Should this be the case, then you have no substantial obligation to stay. You are under no obligation to marry someone to help him get a desired citizenship. Nor do you have strong moral reason to stick to a commitment you once made to him if in making it you relied upon deceptive or misleading statements by him. Even if he is, in some sparkless way, in love with you, you are not in love with him. You should have a real chance to be an A student again, to fall in love, to have a bright life with sparks. What you are missing seems rather more substantial than the benefit he derives from your sacrifice. Moreover, by deciding against giving even more...

I think that the reason we hate is because we FIRST loved. An example would be

I think that the reason we hate is because we FIRST loved. An example would be that Americans hate terrorists because they love their country. A man hates the other man that sleeps with his wife, because he loves his wife. Does this idea have any relevance in modern philosophy, or has it already been covered? I'm not very versed with philosophical writings.

While we are thinking about the relationship between love and hate, what about love-love and hate-hate? Would X hate Y just because Y hates X? And so forth. Here's a version of something I cover in my introduction to philosophy course. Consider the psychological hypothesis that in order for a person to be able to love another person, he or she must already have been loved by someone else (earlier). For example, parents must love their children if their children are to be able to love other persons later. But how were the parents able to love their children? By our hypothesis, by being loved by someone else, say, their parents. But why were they able to love? We have a causal stream paradox. Perhaps at one point, way back, there was someone who was able to love in the absence of himself or herself being loved. This original unloved lover started things going. But then our hypothesis is false. Or perhaps God loved that person, who was not loved by any other person, in which case we can get the stream of love going without violating our hypothesis. But now we have to say that God, at least, can love without being loved. But if God loved that humanly-unloved person in order that this person would be able to love other persons and get the love-stream going, then there is no reason to assert our hypothesis. For any humanly-unloved person today will be able to love others as long as God loves him or her. Given the characterization of God as all-loving, we are all loved by God and hence will be able to love others in spite of the fact that we are not loved by other humans. Perhaps we should assert only that, ceteris paribus, a person is less likely to be able to love others if he or she has not been loved by others. This more reasonable claim might be true, but might also be a truism. Without a precise statement of the other conditions that are necessary and of the relationship between these and the loving-beloved chain, the psychology of love becomes a guessing game. (Is there a hate stream? Hate generates more hate....)

Your examples are good ones. Still, I doubt that hatred always presupposes love in the way you suggest. Consider a girl born into slavery, separated from her mother at birth, and abused by her owner. She may come to hate this man, it would seem, even if she never loved -- never really had a chance to love -- anyone or anything. You may respond that she hates the man, and the abuse he inflicts upon her, only because she longs for, and loves, living unabused. As an empirical claim about human psychology, this is dubious. The little girl may not have enough of a conception of what life without abuse would be like to be said to love such a life. To get around such worries, in this and all other cases, someone might say that it is part of the meaning of hating that one loves some enemy or opposite of what one hates. In this way you can win your case by showing that every proposition of the form "A hates X" presupposes a proposition of the form "A loves Y (e.g., not-X)". But if we...

I am having an affair with a married man who is my coworker. I did not begin the

I am having an affair with a married man who is my coworker. I did not begin the affair, he pursued me. His wife does not know. I feel guilty about it but I am in love with him. He says that he loves me but that he also loves his wife because although she is abusive and he feels no attraction to her she was there for him when he was very ill two years ago. Are my actions unethical? If she doesn't know and I am truly in love with him is it okay? Are his actions more unethical than mine?

Even if the question suggests rationalization and some self-deception, there is still the more philosophical question of why this affair is wrong (if it is wrong).

Contrary to what you suggest, the fact that the wife does not know is probably sufficient to make the affair wrong. She stuck to this man throughout his serious illness and thereafter, because she believed and still believes that they have a certain relationship with each other which she values highly. She does not in fact have such a relationship -- her husband feels no attraction for her and is in love with you. If she knew that her life in fact lacks what she values highly, that her husband describes her to his lover as abusive, that he stays with her only because she looked after him when he was ill -- if she knew all this, then she would very seriously consider leaving her husband to try to build a new relationship of the kind she values. The deception deprives her of this opportunity and leads to her life failing miserably in a respect that for her is very important, perhaps most important. The notion that she is not harmed so long as she does not know of this failure is patronizing and unresponsive to what she cares about: What she deems important is that she should have a meaningful relationship with her husband, not that she should have pleasant beliefs about this relationship.

(Imagine for a moment that the husband has a second secret lover as well, one who knows about you though you don't know about him or her. And imagine that he tells his second lover that he is very bored with you but stays with you because you might otherwise cause a scandal in the office. Wouldn't this make your life much worse even if you didn't know? Wouldn't you want to find out, despite the pain this would cause you, so that you have a chance to find a better relationship? -- If yes, then why assume otherwise about the wife?)

Now, to be sure, I don't strictly know all this about the wife. I find it probable in view of what you wrote and in view of what I see around me in this culture. Perhaps I guess wrongly. Perhaps she loves him in a subservient, self-denying way that makes her care mainly about his happiness, not about their relationship nor about whether her own life is fulfilled. If this were so (and the husband knew this), then perhaps it could be alright for him to have the affair and not tell her. He knows that she would want him to have this affair, if it makes him happy; and he knows that she would want to be there to serve him even if he loves someone else. So telling her would just cause her pointless pain. Not a likely scenario at all, in my view, but worth mentioning just to show that there might possibly be cases where having an affair without telling one's partner is alright.

The husband knows vastly more about his wife than you do. Nonetheless, you cannot simply rely on his expressed judgment that what he and you are doing is alright. (For one thing, he has a strong interest in misleading you and possibly deceiving himself on this point.) You need to judge whether what he tells you about her would make the affair alright. And you also need to judge whether what he tells you is true. In this case, what he has told you, even if true, does not justify your secret affair for the reason stated in the second paragraph. So I cannot see how the husband's conduct, or yours, could be ethical.

Even if the question suggests rationalization and some self-deception, there is still the more philosophical question of why this affair is wrong (if it is wrong). Contrary to what you suggest, the fact that the wife does not know is probably sufficient to make the affair wrong. She stuck to this man throughout his serious illness and thereafter, because she believed and still believes that they have a certain relationship with each other which she values highly. She does not in fact have such a relationship -- her husband feels no attraction for her and is in love with you. If she knew that her life in fact lacks what she values highly, that her husband describes her to his lover as abusive, that he stays with her only because she looked after him when he was ill -- if she knew all this, then she would very seriously consider leaving her husband to try to build a new relationship of the kind she values. The deception deprives her of this opportunity and leads to her life failing miserably in a...

If you don't love yourself, can you love others?

If you don't love yourself, can you love others?

In this question, the words "can" and "love" are difficult. Take a simple understanding of what it means to love someone: to admire (at least some features of) this person and also to care greatly about his/her flourishing (eudaimonia, the quality of a human live comprehensively conceived). And take a narrow understanding of "can" in terms of conceivability. Then the answer is affirmative: It's quite conceivable that you might admire, and care greatly about the flourishing of, another, even while you have no admiration for yourself and do not care much about your own flourishing.

The affirmative answer holds up when we take a broader sense of "can" as psychological possibility. Most people love themselves (in the sense specified), but a fair number do not. So it's psychologically possible not to love oneself. And I don't think lack of self-love makes it psychologically impossible to love another. To be sure, persons who do not love themselves may be depressed and less likely to love another. But it also seems psychologically possible that love for another displaces self-love: The other seems immensely admirable and, putting oneself next to him/her, one cannot admire oneself; and one cares so much about the other's flourishing that one's care for one's own flourishing is marginalized.

To get to a negative answer, a more sophisticated understanding of love is required. Let's try this: to love someone is to devote yourself to creating and (to the best of your ability) participating in a relationship that is unbounded and in which this person can flourish. Now suppose you love another in this sense. Then you are devoting yourself to this relationship between the two of you in which s/he can flourish. If this is a relationship in which you can flourish as well, then you are loving yourself, that is, devoting yourself to creating and (to the best of your ability) participating in a relationship that is unbounded and in which you can flourish.

But what if not? What if this relationship between the two of you is one in which the other can flourish but you cannot? If it is, then you are loving the other but not loving yourself.

My response would be that the other cannot really flourish (really have a good live) in a relationship in which you cannot flourish. At most s/he can have false beliefs that s/he and you are flourishing.

I do not think that this more sophicated understanding of love is fully satisfactory. But it has an implication that seems attractive and may well be worth further reflection: Just as you cannot love another without loving yourself, you also cannot love yourself without loving another.

In this question, the words "can" and "love" are difficult. Take a simple understanding of what it means to love someone: to admire (at least some features of) this person and also to care greatly about his/her flourishing (eudaimonia, the quality of a human live comprehensively conceived). And take a narrow understanding of "can" in terms of conceivability. Then the answer is affirmative: It's quite conceivable that you might admire, and care greatly about the flourishing of, another, even while you have no admiration for yourself and do not care much about your own flourishing. The affirmative answer holds up when we take a broader sense of "can" as psychological possibility. Most people love themselves (in the sense specified), but a fair number do not. So it's psychologically possible not to love oneself. And I don't think lack of self-love makes it psychologically impossible to love another. To be sure, persons who do not love themselves may be depressed and less likely to love another. But it...

Is it logically possible to consider yourself in love with someone after a short

Is it logically possible to consider yourself in love with someone after a short duration of time? Say, three weeks? Or is this too short of a time period to be able to determine something of such great importance? Ashley S.

It is logically possible to consider yourself Dracula or Cleopatra (people do it), and considering oneself in love after three weeks is surely no less possible. Some consider themselves in love with Schwarzenegger and have never met the guy!

So I assume the question you're really interested in is whether it is actually ("empirically") possible to be in love after knowing someone for merely three weeks.

Of course, this depends on what it means to be in love. Let me propose that being in love does not mean having built a relationship of love together, but merely something weaker: being emotionally ready and personally committed to build such a relationship with this person.

This can surely happen in the space of three weeks. For one thing, you may easily have spent 100 hours together -- more than you spend with your closest friends in the space of a year. And many of these hours may have been extremely intense (compared to shooting the breeze or watching a movie or going swimming with an ordinary good friend). So, yes, it is possible to be in love after knowing someone for merely three weeks.

Your last question leaves me a bit puzzled. Is the "something of such great importance" you seek to determine whether you are in love or not? If so, why is this so urgent? If you are unsure whether you are in love or not, then you can just wait a few weeks until you see things more clearly (but maybe you just can't wait to know).

Or is the "something of such great importance" you seek to determine some other big decision -- e.g., whether to get engaged to this man or whether to break up with your present husband or boyfriend? If so, that's hard to think about without more information.

It is logically possible to consider yourself Dracula or Cleopatra (people do it), and considering oneself in love after three weeks is surely no less possible. Some consider themselves in love with Schwarzenegger and have never met the guy! So I assume the question you're really interested in is whether it is actually ("empirically") possible to be in love after knowing someone for merely three weeks. Of course, this depends on what it means to be in love. Let me propose that being in love does not mean having built a relationship of love together, but merely something weaker: being emotionally ready and personally committed to build such a relationship with this person. This can surely happen in the space of three weeks. For one thing, you may easily have spent 100 hours together -- more than you spend with your closest friends in the space of a year. And many of these hours may have been extremely intense (compared to shooting the breeze or watching a movie or going swimming...