Duty and Love

Essay by brimurUniversity, Bachelor's November 2014

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Q .14: What Frankfurt means & the problem with the contrast between duty and love .

By Brian Murray

Course : Intro to the Moral Philosophy

Date : 19 October 2013

Duty and love are two separate concepts which occasionally overlap. However, it is sometimes difficult to discern these overlaps due to their lack of exact definitions. If you ask somebody what "love" is they will give it their own unique meaning based on their own experience with the emotion, in all its forms. Frankfurt discusses the difference between these two concepts and as a way of showing how they overlap, he discusses the act of giving somebody money who is in need of it (Frankfurt p. 8). He does this by giving an example of two men, one acting out of love and the other out of duty. Frankfurt states that, in the case of the man acting out of love, "his love of the needy person in part explains why he helps him, but it does not serve him as a reason for helping" (Frankfurt p.


By this Frankfurt means that while this man gives the poor man money due to loving the poor man, he does not do it to serve his own needs. He does it without consideration of himself, in that acting out of love is never about the self, it is only ever about the entity being loved. Acts of love are done without a sense of duty, we care for our beloved due to the fact that we love it. Our caring for our beloved does not give rise to love, but love does give rise to caring. This value our beloved has to us is a direct result of love (Frankfurt p. 6).

Due to this value we...