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I've been in a long distance relationship for about a year now and my girlfriend

I've been in a long distance relationship for about a year now and my girlfriend has just moved to London for work. She recently told me a stranger on a train asked her for her number after they've chatted for 5 minutes. Without hesitation or telling him that she's in a relationship, she gave it to him. Her explanation was she needed friends in a new and unfamiliar place. While I am very understanding about her feelings of been lonely I still felt very angry about her giving her number away to a complete stranger who's intention was to ask her out on a date. I feel it is wrong for her to be going out on dates with random people while she's in a committed relationship as I would never do the something thing to her. She says I'm just jealous. Am I wrong to feel like this?

I don't think you are wrong to feel as you do, but then she is a free agent and perhaps regards the relationship as more longdistance than a real relationship. The fact that you would not behave like that is not that relevant, you after all do not live in London and perhaps have little opportunity. What is wrong in any case with a bit of jealousy? Are you sure that she did not tell you this to make you jealous and perhaps the event never really happened.

If you care for her you are bound to feel hurt when you contemplate someone else usurping or sharing your relationship with her, unless you regard her as merely one among many who go in and out of your life. At this stage she is really calling on you to define precisely what relationship in fact you have with her and take it from there.

Why would someone want to be loved other than selfish reasons or to boost their

Why would someone want to be loved other than selfish reasons or to boost their ego?

We could dream up some strange scenario in which I want to be loved by someone - Robin, say - but only because if Robin loves me, this will (somehow!) produce some good result that doesn't benefit me personally. I leave it as an imaginative exercise to construct such a story. But that's presumably not what you have in mind. So let's think about more ordinary cases.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but I read the tone of your question as dismissive - as suggesting there's something neurotic or self-absorbed about wanting to be loved. And no doubt there's a real worry here. Being obsessed with what other people think of us isn't healthy and worrying about whether we're loved can be not just neurotic but also a way of making it less likely that we will be. But wanting to be liked or loved can also be an inevitable part of something that it's not at all neurotic. Friendship, most of us find, is a real human good. So is a healthy romantic relationship. So is a warm bond between parent and child. If I like you and would like to be your friend, then part of what I want more or less by definition is for you to like me too. A one-sided "friendship" is no friendship at all. Notice, though: even if I want us to be friends, that doesn't mean the focus of what I want is on me; it can just as well or better be on us.

Still, if our relationship sours because you come not to care about me, that may be painful for me, and few of us get through life without any of that kind of pain. From some point of view, the fact that we can be pained this way may seem weak or unseemly, but I'd use a different word: I'd call it human. Furthermore, this humanness comes with its own good. If I were indifferent to how you felt about me, it's hard to see how you and I could ever hope to enter into the real human good of friendship. And if I were immune to the hurt that can come when a relationship ends, it might be very hard for me to empathize with, support or comfort my own friends and loved ones when that happens to them.

You have probably noticed that I've simply taken something for granted: friendship and other intimate human relations are a good thing. I have indeed taken it for granted. Friendships and romantic relationships can have a sort of instrumental good, of course. With the help of friends, I can get things done that I couldn't just do myself. And if there were no such thing as romantic love or love of parent for child, the race would likely be in danger. But most of us find that loving and being loved - understood broadly - are also good for their own sake. If someone didn't see that, I'm not sure I'd know what to say.

Is there anything wrong with marrying for money?

Is there anything wrong with marrying for money?

Maybe the person who is marrying for money is really married to money already. While I can understand how one could fall in love with money, I don't think it is a good strategy for happiness and to use the old Kantian language, you would certainly be using your spouse -to-be purely as a means to an end. Now, if you confided to that person that you would not want to marry them were it not for their$, then perhaps that would be something different. But you certainly couldn't honestly promise to love him or her. In most cases, there would be a lot wrong in marrying for money.

Why don't philosophers philosophize about love more? Is it not a good

Why don't philosophers philosophize about love more? Is it not a good philosophical topic?

Perhaps it is worth pausing to ask: What is it to "philosophize"? What sort of questions or puzzles or worries call for "philosophizing" as a response?

You might say: philosophy is a motley business, embracing Plato's Symposium and Kierkegaard's Works of Love as well as Aristotle's Physics and Frege's Foundations of Arithmetic. We might count too Montaigne's Essays, or Sartre's Nausea. Very different styles of thought, reflected in very different literary forms, but all counting as philosophizing in a broad sense.

Or you might say: we really do need a label for a narrower kind of business (which has always been a key department of philosophy in the broader sense), where we aim to investigate fundamental conceptual questions and foundational assumptions with a distinctive kind of rigour and clarity, depending on sharp conceptual distinctions and tight logical argument, and where the preferred literary form is now the academic paper or monograph written in very cool, analytic, prose. And (like it or not) "philosophy" has come to be used, in some academic circles at any rate, primarily for that narrower sort of enquiry.

Now, we might well think that some topics don't particularly lend themselves to being philosophized about in the second, narrower, sense of philosophy. Or better: philosophizing in that sense isn't the way to answer the questions that really bug us. And some deeply important matters like central questions about love are perhaps examples (which is why philosophers in the narrow sense haven't had much to say). Exploring the varieties of love has been the business of novelists for centuries, of poets for millennia; and then there are the psychologists and anthropologists and social historians and others who widen our understanding. Some of these may be philosophizing in the broad sense -- whatever that quite comes to -- but very rarely in the narrower sense epitomized by modern analytical philosophy. And their writings are none the worse for that. There are some things that you will learn more about from Shakespeare and Tolstoy than from any philosopher in the narrow sense.

Sometimes, when person A claims to love person B, some might say "No, person A,

Sometimes, when person A claims to love person B, some might say "No, person A, you don't really love person B." Often, they will back up this claim by pointing to aspects of person A's behavior as "proof" - i.e. person A is not jealous when person B speaks with members of person A's sex; or person A does not sacrifice a job opportunity because person B is opposed to the employer's ethical practices; or so on. Does it make sense to tell someone that they do not really love someone they believe they love? After all, love is an emotion, and people external to person A's mind cannot properly judge the emotions person A actually feels. So what justification is there for judging a person's love on the basis of their behavior (setting aside cases where a person regularly beats or abuses someone they claim to love)?

You say that love is an emotion, and in some sense we can grant that. But saying it suggests that love is a feeling, and that, in turn, suggests that it's like a warm sensation in one's tummy -- something that we can simply detect by introspection and that we can't (or can't easily) be wrong about. But it's more complicated than that. If I love someone, I can still have moments when I feel angry at them, for example. But my momentary anger -- a non-loving feeling -- isn't the same as not loving them. Love is, among other things, a complicated set of dispositions. Some of them are dispositions to feel a certain way in certain situations, and others are dispositions to behave in certain ways. I might be momentarily angry with my daughter, for example, but it might be true that if anything were to happen to her, I would be beside myself with grief. I might also be willing to make considerable sacrifices for her well-being. I might worry about her, take time to check up on her, and do all of this not just out of some sense of duty. Those dispositions are much better indicators of my love for her than my momentary feeling of anger.

On the other hand, if I wouldn't grieve the loss of my daughter, wouldn't go out of my way to help her, didn't care whether I spent time with her and so on, the fact that I would say I love her wouldn't count for much. Indeed, the fact that I believed I loved her might best be seen as a kind of self-deception due, perhaps, to my wanting to think well of myself. Similar comments apply to romantic love, of course.

Because love is a lot more than a feeling, people are quite capable of being wrong about whether they love someone. They can tell themselves that they don't love someone when they really do (think of someone who swears they no longer love their ex-lover when it's obvious to everyone else that they do), and they can tell themselves that they do love someone when they really don't. The connection with behavior is clear. If love involves dispositions to feel and to act, then the actions someone actually performs can be signs of their real dispositions.

Of course, this is only a small part of the story. The notion of love is both complicated and not entirely precise. It's certainly possible to love someone and yet not to be the jealous type. It's certainly possible to love someone and not be willing to go along with all of their wishes or principles; the examples you cite seem pretty clearly to be compatible with really loving someone. But if A treats B with reliable cruelty, for example, it would take a very complicated story to make sense of A's claim to really love B. This is so even if A really believes that s/he loves B.

The more general point is this: there are some things about our minds that we know better than others do. But there's a good deal about our minds that we can't discover just by introspection. We can be quite wrong about our selves in various ways. Add to that the fact that our psychologies have such an important role in producing our behavior, and it's not hard to see why sometimes others are in a better position than we are to make judgements about our own psychologies. The case of love is just one among many.

Most people, I'd guess, have racial preferences in dating. I don't think that

Most people, I'd guess, have racial preferences in dating. I don't think that this is morally problematic in itself, since there is surely no obligation to date anyone, or members of any particular group. Still it strikes me that many cases of racial preference in dating are likely rooted in racism. For instance, I have never been attracted to black women; and while I would insist that I have no duty to be anything like an equal opportunity dater, I strongly suspect that my preference in this case is at least partially the result of racial prejudice. (I imagine that I would more often find myself attracted to black women if I had not internalized various stereotypes, racially-based aesthetic norms, etc.) Is this a problem? Does it matter to our evaluation of a particular attitude if, though perhaps innocuous in itself, it has a causal origin in bigotry?

I doubt whether we should feel that we ought always to treat everyone entirely equally to avoid being called racist. We are allowed to have preferences and sometimes these will be on racial grounds, perhaps, provided that those preferences do not systematically discriminate against people in ways that do them harm. Unless we had some fairly fixed preferences, it would be very difficult to discriminate among different sorts of people in any way whatsoever, and dating is based on such discrimination. It is as well to be aware of one's prejudices and to consider whether it is worth trying to challenge them, but there is nothing wrong in acknowledging them and recognizing their role in defining a personality.

Blind dates are fun because they force the individual to respond to partners with whom one might not otherwise consider going. On the other hand, if every date were to be a blind date, this would not be evidence of having an open mind but rather of a lack of character.

I am seventeen and dating a boy (man?) who is two years older than I. Our

I am seventeen and dating a boy (man?) who is two years older than I. Our relationship is really going well, neither of us have any secrets and we feel comfortable talking about all subjects. Every moment I spend with him is valuable in a way I find hard to describe. Obviously, this has me thinking about long-term, very long-term. And my question for you wise men and women (who have much, much more experience than I) is this; can you truly know you love someone if you have only ever been with them? Can you even actually, whole-heartedly love someone if they are your only romantic and sexual partner? Especially since we are so young and facing many extended time periods apart. Are we too far from self-discovery, too apt to change to make it? I don't want to be naive, but I also want to have hope that this silly boy to whom I am so hopelessly committed to could someday be the man I spend my life with.

Your question or questions are very personal and very hard to settle. I think it is possible to know that you have found a life-partner romantically at a young age, but this must be very rare and there are so many cases of when people commit to each other too early and set themselves up for a costly break-up (emotionally) later. If I were in such a situation, I would enjoy my partner to the maximum possible, express love and joy, but hold off in terms of vows, not necessarily because I thought it good to be with others but because 17 is young, and what would be better than loving another person in the moment as a 17 year old, without planning what one might do when one is 21 or 25 or.... In terms of a philosophy of relationships, I am a fan of the poet Milton who proposed that the key to marriage (or a deep romantic relationship) is benevolence. He might have said friendship. In this line of thinking, one wants to make sure that there is both romance and friendship.

I live with my husband and his mother. My mother in law seems to have issues

I live with my husband and his mother. My mother in law seems to have issues with me; she picks fights and tries to manipulate my husband into treating me like dirt just the way she does. She is more than just a meddler. She seems to have strange episodes that might qualify as a mental problem such as depression. My husband always takes her side and goes crazy on me saying that his number one responsibility is to his mother. My question is what is the morally acceptable thing here? Does my mother-in law deserve more of my husband's 'respect' than I do? It seems that he thinks I should never say ill about her even when she's clearly in the wrong.

What a difficult situation! You may be dealing with a matter that involves different cultural traditions. If, for example, you and your family's background is Confusian there may be a primacy of hnor due to parentss, but if you are in Jewish or Chrisitian context then, while honor is due to parents, your primary loyalty is to the marriage partner (Genesis 2:24 institutes marriage as a matter of of a man and by implication, a woman leaving father and mother and father and "becoming one"). But setting aside cultural or religious expectiations, I think most people would understand the vow that established your marriage as promising always to love and respect each other. Sometimes this vow includes a line about "foresaking all others" which suggests the primacy and exclusively important nature of the marriage bond. In light of that, I find it difficult to believe that respect and love would lead to the kind of reproachful behavior you are describing.

It would be interesting (but probably most unwise and dangerous and messy) if you and your husband were to be in a house if only for a weekend with one of your parents in which you all acted out the kind of behavior you have been subject to!

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.

I am a 39 year old married woman. I recently attended an adult party (a.k.a.

I am a 39 year old married woman. I recently attended an adult party (a.k.a. pleasure party) hosted by one of my friends. I did not ask my husband's permission to attend, thinking it wasn't a big deal. I did not purchase any "toys" but nonetheless, my husband is furious at me for attending. He says I "violated" our relationship and socially embarrassed him by going. He has called me a liar, hypocrite (because I don't allow our children to swear, watch porn, etc. but I went to this party) and a whore. I don't understand what is happening. He says I must "admit my guilt" or live a lonely, sex-less life. He also doesn't think he will ever be able to have sex with me again. I want to stay with him but I don't know what I did wrong. Is it morally and ethically wrong to attend a party like this without my husband's consent?

Good heavens, indeed. This isn't, as Charles said, really a question for philosophers. But just on an ordinary human level, it will strike most people that your husband is behaving pretty appallingly, in a way that probably reveals a deep fear or even horror of female sexuality. His response is that of the frightened emotional bully. In the face of his absurd reaction, it must be difficult not to feel crushed, and begin to doubt your own good sense. But of course it wasn't a big deal to go the party (with all the female banter and amused teasing and gibes at male inadequacies -- or so I'm told!); and you need to hold on to that thought in the face of the bullying, and not start to doubt your own sense of moral proportion. To echo Charles again, good luck!