Caring, Aretaic Commitment, and Existential Resolve

John Davenport

in Will as Commitment and Resolve

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print July 2007 | ISBN: 9780823225750
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235896 | DOI:
Caring, Aretaic Commitment, and               Existential Resolve

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This chapter takes up Harry Frankfurt's innovative analysis of “caring” as a distinctively volitional phenomenon and argues that we can make sense of this claim and Frankfurt's evidence for it only by understanding such caring as a form of projective motivation with a reflexive component concerning the agent's first-order motives. Starting from work by Elizabeth Anderson, Bernard Williams, Jeffrey Blustein, and others, it then argues that the kind of “commitment” that is an essential component of Frankfurtian caring is not only projective, but also distinguished by consequence-transcending grounds. The reasons for an “aretaic” commitment exceed the product-value of the ends to which the agent devotes himself. This feature explains the unconditionality found in certain volitional loves, ground projects, or self-defining commitments without fanatically insulating them from critical reason. This chapter also considers love as a nonappetitive motivation, Alasdair MacIntyre's views on aretaic commitment, Bernard Williams's arguments against consequentialism, and Jeffrey Blustein's treatment of the relation between caring and commitment.

Keywords: Harry Frankfurt; caring; projective motivation; Elizabeth Anderson; Bernard Williams; Jeffrey Blustein; aretaic commitment; Alasdair MacIntyre; consequentialism

Chapter.  13183 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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