“Valuable Asymmetrical Friendship” by Thomas Brian Mooney and John Williams (24 Apr)

Aristotle distinguishes three sorts of friendship. There are friendships of pleasure or of utility, in which the friend takes the other—even as an object of care—as a person qua bearer of characteristics conducive to pleasure or utility. Then there are much more valuable character friendships in which the friend cares for the other qua person for the other’s own sake. These are held by Aristotle and a variety of contemporary thinkers who broadly follow his account of friendship to involve various fairly strict equalities, or as we prefer to put it, symmetries between the friends. Roughly, such friends are fairly strictly symmetrically autonomous in relation to each other, fairly strictly symmetrical in their separateness of identity from each other, fairly strictly symmetrical in the degree to which they identify with each other, and are fairly strictly symmetrical in the degree to which they are virtuous. There is a fourth important sort of friendship that has been overlooked in the philosophical literature. We call this asymmetrical friendship. This is not friendship of pleasure or of utility, being much more valuable. Like character friendships but unlike friendships of pleasure or utility (that may also be largely asymmetrical) these involve each friend caring for the other for the others’ own sake. Unlike character friendships, they may be largely asymmetrical. So they are unlike Aristotle’s fairly strictly symmetrical and certainly valuable character friendships which seldom appear at all in our imperfect lives, lived as they are in an imperfect world.

Philosophy Seminar Series.
Date: Thursday, 24 Apr 2014
Time: 2 pm – 4 pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3 #05-23)
Speakers: T. Brian Mooney, John Williams, Singapore Management University
Moderator: Dr. Ben Blumson

About the Speakers:

BRIANMOONEYT. Brian Mooney is currently Associate Professor of Philosophy at Singapore Management University and has just been appointed as Professor of Philosophy and Head of School of Humanities and Creative Arts at Charles Darwin University.  Brian’s research interests are in Ancient and Mediaeval Philosophy, Moral Philosophy and the Theory and Practice of Education.  Brian is the author, co-author and co-editor of 9 books and over 50 articles in philosophy.

JOHNWILLIAMSJohn N. Williams (PhD Hull) works primarily in epistemology and paradoxes, especially epistemic paradoxes. He also works in philosophy of language and applied ethics. He has published in Acta Analytica, American Philosophical Quarterly, Analysis, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Journal of Philosophical Research, Philosophy East and West, Mind, Philosophia, Philosophical Studies, Religious Studies, Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, Synthese and Theoria. He is co-editor of Moore’s Paradox: New Essays on Belief, Rationality and the First Person, Oxford University Press together with Mitchell Green. He researches and teaches in the School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University.


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