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Love, Identification and Equality: Rational Problems in Harry Frankfurt’s Concept of Person.


Abstract and Figures

Harry Frankfurt has published On Inequality, but this is not the first time he has written about this subject. Frankfurt already criticized a rationalistic notion of equality on other occasions (Frankfurt, 1987 & 1997). In these works he says a rationalistic notion of equality cannot fit in with our belief that agents possess their own volitional necessities, which shape volitional structures of the human will. However, Frankfurt’s explanatory connection between volitions, love and identification make it difficult to talk about personal freedom.
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The Journal of the British Personalist Forum
Vol. 11 No. 1, Spring 2016 ISSN 1358-3336
The Boston Issue
Papers from the 2015 International Conference on Persons
at Boston University
Lockean Persons and their Properties
Do Lockean Persons Even Exist?
Lexical Mistakes
Moral Persons with and without Tails
Peirce on Personality
Emotional Response Systems
Theology and Cosmology
Emergence and the Sublime
Reported Speech and Textual Persons
Love and Equality in Frankfurt
Published twice a year in March and October.
Four issues per volume.
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Chairman: Dr. Alan Ford
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Dr. Angela Botez Institute of Philosophy, Romanian Academy of Sciences, Bucharest, Romania.
Dr. Tibor Frank Dept of Philosophy, Technical University of Budapest, Hungary.
Dr. Chris Goodman Hathersage, nr Sheffield.
Dr. Wendy Hamblet, Dept of University Studies, North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC.
Dr. Endre Nagy Formerly of the Dept of Social Policy, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary.
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Bucharest, Romania.
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Editorial Policy:
Appraisal seeks to develop and promote constructive ways of thinking, from within personalist perspectives, in philosophy
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Appraisal believes that philosophy should not be a narrow, academic and technical specialism, but should address itself to
the general public and to the intellectual and practical issues of the present.
From time to time Appraisal will include Re-Appraisals, articles or collections of articles upon 20th C. thinkers whose work
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The Journal of the British Personalist Forum
ISSN 1358-3336
Editor: Dr. Simon Smith
Vol. 11, No. 1. Spring 2016: Page 1
© British Personalist Forum 2016
Vol. 11, No. 1, Spring 2016
This issue’s contributors…….......………………………………………………….….……….…….1
Mihretu P. Guta
Looking into Objects, Dispositions and the Lockean Person-Making Properties ...….…..….……...4
Sam N. Johnson
Mixed Modes and the Non-existence of Lockean Persons …...….….….….….….….…..….……..12
M. B. Raehll
On the Mistaken Lexical Liberty of Conflating Self and Person in Philosophy ..........…..….……..16
Sari Kisilevsky
Moral Personhood and Humans with Tails: Exploring the Bounds of the Moral ...................……..20
Cheongho Lee
Peirce on Person: Peirce’s Theory of Determination and the Existence of Personality ..........……..26
Eleanor Wittrup
Emotion Makes the Person…….…...….…..….…..….…..….…....….….….….….….…..….……..33
Gilbert Fulmer
Persons, Theology, and Cosmology .….…..……..….….….….….….….….….….….…..….……..41
Leslie Murray
The Emergence of Personhood and its Importance in the Experience of the Sublime …..….……..44
Joseph C. Harry
Quotational Characters .....…………….…..……..….….….….….….….….….….….…..….……..48
Martin Montoya Camacho
Love, Identification and Equality: Rational Problems in Harry Frankfurt’s Concept of Person ......56
Journals Received ….…………………………………….….….….……………...….…..….……..61
Vol. 11, No. 1. Spring 2016: Page 2
Notes on this issues new contributors
Gilbert E. Fulmer was born in San Diego, CA; educated in Kansas City, MO public schools; BA and Ph.D. in philosophy,
from Rice University, Houston, TX; taught at Texas State Univ. 1972-2015; married 39 years to Christina Lynne Fulmer;
widowed; published in various journals, including Analysis,The Personalist,Journal of Value Inquiry, and International
Journal for the Philosophy of Religion.
Mihretu P. Guta completed his Ph.D. in Philosophy at Durham University (UK) under the supervision of Professor E. J.
Lowe and Dr. Sophie Gibb. He subsequently worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow within the Durham Emergence
Project (funded by the John Templeton Foundation). His main research focuses on metaphysics, philosophy of mind and
the philosophy of neuroscience, with special emphasis on the emergence of consciousness and its relation to the brain. He
recently co-edited with Sophie Gibb, a Special Issue entitled: ‘Insights into the first-person perspective and the self: an
interdisciplinary approach’, the Journal of Consciousness Studies, 11-12 (2015). Currently he is an adjunct faculty member
in the School of Arts and Sciences at Biola University and in the Department of Philosophy at Azusa Pacific University,
where he lectures on philosophy and the philosophy of neuroscience. He is also working on a manuscript entitled: The
Metaphysics of Substance and Personhood: A Non-Theory Laden Approach.
Joseph C. Harry (Ph.D., Michigan State University, USA) is an associate professor of communication at Slippery Rock
University of Pennsylvania. His published work focuses on a range of rhetorical and ethical issues within mass-mediated
texts, and on the role and theory of journalistic quotation and news sourcing in journalistic discourse, within a framework
of media-sociological, linguistic, and semiotic perspectives.
Sam N. Johnson is a graduate student studying for his Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
He holds an MA in philosophy from the University of Mississippi. In addition to questions of personal identity, his
philosophical interests include metaethics and how moral responsibility can be predicated of persons.
Sari Kisilevsky is an assistant professor in the department of philosophy at Queens College CUNY where she specializes
in Philosophy of Law and Ethics. Before that she was a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Law and Philosophy at UCLA. She
received her PhD in philosophy from the University of Toronto in 2009.
Cheongho Lee is a Ph.D. candidate at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, IL, USA. He investigates American
pragmatic tradition, especially in terms of the relationship between knowledge and normativity in Charles S. Peirce’s theory.
Martin Montoya is Assistant Professor of Contemporary History of Philosophy at Ecclesiastical School of Philosophy of
the University of Navarra. His work has centered on contemporary theories of action, metaphysics of free will debate, and
in particular Harry Frankfurt’s propose of the structure of the human will and the role of love in the human action. Montoya
received his B. A. in Theology from the Pontificia Università della Santa Croce (2009), his M.A. (2011) and Ph.D. (2014)
both in Philosophy from the University of Navarra, and postgraduate work at the Jacques Maritain Center of the University
of Notre Dame (2015).
Leslie Murray is a philosophy graduate student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He received his B.A. this May
and is beginning graduate study this fall. Leslie was awarded the Graduate Dean’s Fellowship at SIU and his primary
philosophical interests include personalist and environmental philosophy. He plans to explore the connections between
these two areas of philosophical inquiry as he continues on his philosophical journey.
Meghan Raehll completed her Ph.D. in Philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She also holds degrees
in Religion and Philosophy of Religion and her research interests rest in metaphysics, learning experiences, and the
intersection of technology and personal identity.
Eleanor Wittrup teaches Ethics and history of philosophy at University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. She
received a Masters degree in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and her PhD from the University
of California in San Diego. She lives in Calaveras County (home of the famed jumping frogs) withe her daughter,
horse, two cats and three large dogs. She is fascinated by human beings and why they do the things they do, and
how to cultivate virtue.
Vol. 11, No. 1. Spring 2016: Page 3
2016 has been a very busy year thus far, not least becuase we have been participating in a vitally important temporal
experiment. We have, as more astute readers will doubtless have guessed, been testing out a whole new time zone. Casting
off the bonds of Greenwich, we have taken the advice of a trusted member and adopted Tasmania-Time. In the process, we
have engaged in the traditional copious and creative swearing with much vigour and vim. The casual racism alleged of our
new temporal neighbours is taking a little longer to “bed in,” however.
Crucially, our adoption of Tasmania-Time means that the Spring Issue of Appraisal is far from being late. Since we are
still firmly in the grip of what the Anti-hyperboreans, in their innocence, call “winter”, this Spring Issue is actually early.
Despite being upside down, we are, as usual, pleased to present a most excellent collection of articles in this issue. For
your edification and enjoyment, we bring you papers from the International Conference on Persons, held at Boston
University last August. Any of our readers who have attended previous ICsP will know very well just how much fun they
are. Attendees are guaranteed as diverse a range of topics and approaches as they could wish for: everything from
neuroethics to neo-classical theology. Our current selection is, we believe, entirely representative, including as it does such
subjects as personal properties, Peirce, and, perhaps inevitably, people with tails.
All our authors are new to Appraisal and have much to offer; we hope this won’t be the last we’ll see or hear of them.
I’m sure they will not mind, however, if I single out for particular mention Mr. Leslie Murray. Mr Murray attended the
conference as a representative of the “Next Generation” of personalist scholars. As such, we are particularly pleased to have
him with us here and look forward to seeing much more of his work when he completes his graduate studies.
The ICP is, of course, one of the most important conferences in the personalist calendar. It is also an excellent
opportunity to meet and talk with new and aspiring scholars, like Mr. Murray, as well as those venerable thinkers who have
been shambling along this path for many years. Attendance at the next one, which is to be held in Calabria, is highly
recommended. We hope to have more details of the event in the next issue.
The ICP may be big, but surely it cannot compare to our own BPF Conferences. Indeed it cannot. The most recent of
these, as I’m sure everyone knows, was held at York St. John University in June. I’m told that the whole thing went off very
well; although I was there, I spent my time running round and organising things, thus I missed most of it. That it was a
success assuming it really was is entirely down to all our excellent speakers and, most especially, the considerable
support of Dr. Anna Castriota and Mrs. Orla Smith.
We were particularly fortunate to have some excellent speakers from across Europe and as far as Russia. We were even
more fortunate to have Prof. Tom Buford and his son, Dr. Russ Buford. Prof. Buford is, as readers may be aware, one of
the most highly respected of personalist scholars; his son, a Psychologist by trade, is no less interesting a fellow, despite his
apparently dubious taste in music. Julian Stern, Dean of Education & Theology at York St. John, also joined us; and very
gracious about it he was too, considering we had forgotten to tell him we were holding a conference in his own backyard.
One particularly good upshot of this event was that Dr. Castriota and I have been approached by a publisher. The
profoundly sagacious Vernon Press has invited us to put together a collection of papers from York. This process is now
well underway; we shall, no doubt, have more information about it in the coming months. Our most important task, as I see
it, is to come up with a good title. I favour something attention-grabbing, like “Wuthering Heights II: Lust in the Dust”. Dr.
Castriota, I fear, would prefer something more soberly and philosophically informative.
The Vernon editor is getting to know us quite well at the moment. Whether he feels honoured by our attentions, as he
should, or victimised by them, as he frankly is, I cannot say. Nevertheless, two further volumes will soon be coming your
way thanks to Vernon. The first is a collection of yet more choice papers from the Boston ICP entitled In the Sphere of the
Personal: New Perspectives in the Philosophy of Persons. The remarkably talented editors, Drs James Beauregard and
Simon Smith, have selected a fine range of themes. Questions of social justice figure large, as do a variety of perspectives
on the meaning and nature of “personhood”; equally, the lover of Germanic endnotes will not be disappointed. Best of all,
it comes very highly recommended. Indeed, one commentator who has neither been bribed nor blackmailed went so far as
to say that the Introduction is worth the price of the book by itself. Being very modest chaps indeed, the editors could not
comment on such rare wisdom and perspicacity or such remarkable taste.
The second collection currently in Vernon’s very capable hands is Freedom, Authority and Economics, edited by
Richard Allen. This collection of essays on Polanyi began life in 2011 as an memorable seminar organised by Dr. Allen and
Prof. Klaus Allerbeck at the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung Für die Freiheit. The papers were published by the Stiftung as an
introduction to Polanyi’s political and economic thought, but they were not made generally available. Thanks to Dr. Allen,
they very soon will be.
We shall, of course, have further details of these publications, including reviews in due course. In the meantime, readers
are strongly advised to purchase of many copies for themselves and their loved ones. Together, these volumes will make
the perfect Christmas and/or birthday present. What impassioned partner, what doting child, what loving parent could ask
for more? As there is likely to be a run on copies once they become available, stockpiling copies is highly recommended.
Simon Smith
Vol. 11, No. 1. Spring 2016: Page 56
Abstract: Harry Frankfurt has published On Inequal-
ity, but this is not the first time he has written about
this subject. Frankfurt already criticized a rationalis-
tic notion of equality on other occasions (Frankfurt,
1987 & 1997). In these works he says a rationalistic
notion of equality cannot fit in with our belief that
agents possess their own volitional necessities, which
shape volitional structures of the human will. Howev-
er, Frankfurt’s explanatory connection between voli-
tions, love and identification make it difficult to talk
about personal freedom.
Key Words: inequality, moral necessities, respect,
volitional structure
1. Introduction
Harry Frankfurt defends a non-Cartesian and non-
standard notion of the will. For Frankfurt, agent voli-
tions are organised in a hierarchical structure. This
structure establishes the bounds of desires of the
person. Volitional necessities are basic human voli-
tions of this structure and are associated with the
effort to pursue personal goals.1 These deep necessi-
ties of the will should not be defined in terms of any
cognitive process. Frankfurt also says that the desig-
nation of some agents as persons implies identifying
them as agents with personal volitions. In this respect,
Frankfurt identifies love as a genuine volitional ne-
cessity. Love determines personal free action. Love
moves agents to adopt caring attitudes because they
love someone.2 If this assertion is true, love is also
essential in making decisions about what is important
to the beloved person.
This paper has three parts. In the first one I will
talk about self-acceptance of the structure of the
person and the requirement to accept others as per-
sons, i.e., to act as an agent who is able to act respect-
fully in society. The second part is concerned with
inequality; it explains why both love and rationality
must work in tandem to create the conditions for the
acknowledgement of others as persons. Recognition
of this inequality begins with the acknowledgement
of other people. Finally, I affirm that the ability to
accept others as persons should be in continuous
development, and is a requirement to act as a free
2. Acceptance and Acting as a Person
Harry Frankfurt introduced a counterexample against
the Principle of Alternate Possibilities (PAP) in 1969.
PAP’s formulation is ‘a person is morally responsible
for what he has done only if he could have done
otherwise.’3 Frankfurt thinks PAP is false because a
person could be responsible for what he did even if he
couldn’t have done otherwise. The counterexample is
a new version of the Cartesian Evil Demon who is
able to deceive some people by manipulating their
beliefs, blocking their choices or alternate possibili-
ties to act.4 But the Frankfurt case goes beyond the
level of cognition. These kinds of case were formulat-
ed to support intuitions in favour of an agent’s moral
responsibility beyond alternate possibilities, i.e. the
agent’s autonomy is exclusively related to volitions
and freedom of the will.5 To salvage a certain kind of
freedom, the Frankfurt case shows how agents who
are under a power that manipulates their cognition,
want to do what the manipulator wants. Hence, in the
Frankfurt case, the agent could be morally responsi-
ble for his actions because he acts according to his
own desires, even if he couldn’t have done otherwise.
Frankfurt says this would be a case against a universal
validity of the PAP, because this principle doesn’t
explain the agent’s moral responsibility founded on
the freedom of the will. Frankfurt’s conclusion on this
point is that a person’s will is more important than his
cognitive processes.
Frankfurt affirms that freedom of will can’t be
identified by means of a simple observation of human
actions and events that are brought about by the
person. Freedom of will is determined by the hierar-
chical structure of volitions. For this reason ‘one
essential difference between persons and other crea-
tures is to be found in the structure of a person’s
will.’6 A person is provided withthe capacity for
reflective self-evaluation that is manifested in the
formation of second-order desires.’7 But, also, Frank-
furt explains that a person is not only provided with a
hierarchical structure of desires, but also possesses an
ability to accept the volitional structure to act based
on reflection.8
The notions of person andvolitional structure
are distinct and separate. Persons are able to reflect on
their own volitional structure. On the other hand,
‘human will’ is not the same as
[S]omething that merely inclines an agent in
some degree to act in a certain way. Rather, it
is the notion of an effective desire one that
moves (or will or would move) a person all the
way to action. Thus the notion of the will is not
coextensive with the notion of what an agent
intends to do.9
In Frankfurt’s account, a capacity for reflective self-
acceptance is essential for the formation of the high-
er-order desires in the human person. Higher-order
desires are hierarchically organised by means of love
and a personal reflective activity that is concerned
with being a person.10 The basic material for the
Martin Montoya Camacho
Vol. 11, No. 1. Spring 2016: Page 57
agent selects what to take care of using all of his
hierarchical structure.13 These objectives, however,
need to be cognitive in some aspects to be identified.
To be consistent with the social condition of the
person, we need to say that the ability for self-accept-
ance of the person must be completed by another
ability, otherwise, the volitional structure would be
able to identify desires of the self, but not those of
others. In fact, if persons can only identify and love
themselves and their own volitional structures, they
would be irretrievably locked in their own volitional
necessities. Love should be enough to go beyond the
bounds of human will. If this is not the case, the
person is unable to act socially.
At this point, we can say the agent needs to be
disposed to both self-acceptance and the acceptance
of others to act as a person. The disposition to accept-
ance of others moves the person to think about the
other person’s necessities. This disposition is based
on personal inequality and is required to be connected
with rational decision-making. Otherwise, agents are
not able to respect other people’s necessities in the
ordinary decisions of their lives.
3. Moral Necessities of the Person and the Agent’s
In this section we are be concerned with the relation-
ship between love and cognitive processes. Frank-
furt’s works offer many attempts to refute an ideal
position in which the epistemic foundations of egali-
tarianism can be taken as the basis of a logical deci-
sion-making process of the agent. For Frankfurt, ‘the
fundamental error of egalitarianism lies in supporting
that it is morally important whether one person has
less than another regardless of how much either of
them has.’14 This means that, for the person, what
must be important for an evaluation of the social
condition is not the comparative situation of the agent
with other people, but the degree of satisfaction of the
agent’s personal necessities.
Harry Frankfurt explains that ‘there is no neces-
sary conceptual connection between a person’s eco-
nomic relative position and whether he has needs of
any degree of urgency.’15 For Frankfurt, from a per-
spective of personal values, if the conceptual connec-
tion between personal necessities and the rational
requirements to act does not exist, then the agent
cannot perceive the egalitarian requirements as an
urgent reason to act in a specific moment. According
to Frankfurt, the decision to help other people is not
a function of a comparative process, but of love.16
Frankfurt makes his position about a rational proc-
ess of decision-making manifest by refuting Thomas
Nagel’s position about the differences among people.
For Nagel, a principle ‘establishes an order of priority
among needs and gives preference to the most
urgent.’17 Frankfurt contradicts Nagel’s account, say-
ing: ‘But the preference actually assigned by the
Difference Principle is not in favour of those whose
formation and effectiveness of the volitional structure
is the primary desires, or what the agent intends to do.
Considered together, Frankfurt’s explanation of
structure of desires and the manipulation of cognitive
processes, we can say that, for Frankfurt, even if the
manipulator has some external control over the cogni-
tive processes of the agent, the agent still has an inner
condition of freedom founded on the structure of his
will and reflective self-acceptance.
Now, let us consider what happens with self-ac-
ceptance defined as the identification of the person
with his own desires. Because not only is the hierar-
chical structure of desires important for the person,
but also the self-acceptance of that structure, both of
which are required to be concerned with people,
otherwise the ordinary experiences in human life
would be only a series of confrontations with others.
Through the identification of persons with their own
desires, agents should act according to what they
want and know about living as persons. This is an
interesting idea because the will of the person is the
essence of human acts. But the person also needs to
identify what he wants to do regarding other people.
Frankfurt seems to suggest that a typical necessity for
personal identification of desires and possible actions
is love.Love leads us to identify and take care of our
genuine volitional necessities.
In Frankfurt’s view, love cannot be assimilated by
the volitional structure. In fact, if love is no more than
a kind of desire in the hierarchical structure, then it is
not suitable to discover our genuine volitional neces-
sities. Love must be at the level of the essential char-
acteristics of the person. Like the person, love
shouldn’t be identified with the basic structure of
desires or any elements in it.11 Therefore, love can
shape the desires of the volitional structure of the
agent through identifying what he loves for himself.
Accordingly, what we love shapes our volitions and
expands what we think are our options to act.
Love is a kind of power required to identify what
the person is able to care about. Frankfurt seems to
say that by means of love we can identify our desires,
the priority among them, and the main objects of our
care. As a consequence, according to Frankfurt, we
discover through love both what we are and what we
care about. This kind of knowledge based on identifi-
cation of volitions is what makes us persons, and
therefore, able to act as persons. Accordingly, for
Frankfurt, to be able to act as a person is impossible
without love and self-acceptance as a person, i.e. the
agent must love himself as a person to be self-known
as such. This self-love extends beyond the limits of
the person’s own volitional structure.
For Frankfurt, the objects of personal caring, that
are loved by the person, represent the motives of his
personal actions.12 For that reason, the main objec-
tives of caring for a human person are his genuine
volitional necessities, or particular objectives that
freely determine personal actions. Shaped by love, the
Martin Montoya Camacho: Love, Identification and Equality
Vol. 11, No. 1. Spring 2016: Page 58
fundamental for self-acceptance and acceptance of
others as persons. To make a decision about the
beloved, the person needs a connection between voli-
tional self-acceptance and a rational acceptance of
others. Personal moral choices must come from both
love and cognitive processes to have reasons to act in
a personal way.21 Without both of these elements,
how can we identify personal moral needs and genu-
ine volitional necessities, such as the respect for peo-
4. Personal Epistemic Condition for Respect and
Frankfurt’s approach to social issues, such as equality
and respect, is closely linked to love and rational
processes as conditions to ‘act as persons.’ He clearly
states this question, pointing out the difference be-
tween two kinds of human agents who are divided
into wantons and persons.22 While the former is a
creature without the relevant consciousness to act
coherently, persons are able to act according their
own personal desires.23 This idea means that people
require a relevant way to know and reflect on their
own desires, and to reflect on and assess the moral
correctness of their choices.24 The social relevance of
these distinctions is clear, not only in the public sense
of morality, but also in the personal one, which is
required to build a respectful society for persons. A
person is someone who is able to act as a person with
other persons.
For Frankfurt, a wanton’s life is incoherent be-
cause it is broken and is lived through a set of dis-
jointed episodes. However, the wanton does perceive
these episodes at some level.25 The wanton wants
according to his structure of desires but is not able to
want as a person. By contrast, persons maintain their
caring for the beloved over time.
The assertion that the wanton is not a person
because constitutively he cannot act like a person is
not relevant in this discussion. Understanding the
wanton as an incomplete person in terms of constitu-
tive characteristics would lead us to an ontological
discussion, which is not our concern.26 A sufficient
condition to talk about respect and inequality is to say
that the wanton’s behaviour is socially incoherent
because his loving and reflective processes are dis-
connected. Even though he perceives that he needs to
care for others, he cannot do so. Wantons do not have
the relevant condition for their own freedom of the
will, i.e., control over their personal desires. There-
fore, we can understand the wanton’s status as a
non-social agent who needs help integrating his inner
Identification as a kind of ability to accept others
is required for respecting people. But the effective-
ness of this concept requires another one: that the
person must possess an effective and growing ability
to identify personal conditions of others in order to
reflect in a richer and more dynamic way. This ability
needs are most urgent; it is in favour of those who are
identified as worst off.’18 So, there may be cases such
that the worst off people do not need any help because
to be in the worse off situation is not the same as one’s
basic necessities are not satisfied. Therefore, al-
though Nagel’s principle can set some priority ac-
cording to the logic of maximising profit, it may not
necessarily determine what the agent needs. Thus,
Frankfurt again denies that general principles, like
PAP, reveal the real needs of people. For Frankfurt,
what constitute our decision-making processes are
the reasons that love reveals. And these reasons forge
our volitional necessities.19
Therefore, for Frankfurt, what is important for the
agent and what moves him to action is not the product
of a rationalistic mental process that in comparing the
rational objects would find advantages or disadvan-
tages among them. Because this kind of mental proc-
ess is not essential for the person, it cannot resolve the
main questions of personal life.20 Frankfurt’s defence
of the essential role of personal necessities within the
decision-making process is an attempt to protect the
personal condition of the agent that permits respect
for people. From the Frankfurtian point of view, the
person has a necessary ability to accept other people,
originating from the identification of personal needs.
The agent identifies other persons, and accepts their
personal conditions through love. But problems in
Frankfurt’s account can arise if the love that supports
this ability is disconnected from the cognitive or
reflective decision-making processes. If love is not an
integral part of the agent’s reflective processes, then
the person cannot act as a social agent because he
cannot make decisions considering other persons.
Frankfurt rejects a logical maximisation of bene-
fits as a rational process in human life. Actually, this
type of rational process is not the only basis upon
which to justify human decisions to act. In addition,
Frankfurt wants to protect the deep necessities from
any extrinsic manipulation so that they can be genu-
ine necessities (e.g. in the PAP counterexample). For
this reason, he avoids any relationship between a
comparative process in decision-making and love in
the formation of the personal volitional necessities.
However, eliminating this kind of rationality from the
process of shaping the volitional structure could lead
to the conclusion that a rational requirement in mak-
ing choices regarding our own wills is unnecessary.
Persons without this rationality cannot recognise oth-
ers as persons.
Love is required to support a rational decision-
making process, otherwise, the ability to accept oth-
ers cannot be used as support in making decisions
about one’s personal self-acceptance as an agent with
moral possibility. Being morally responsible implies
having reasons to act that are chosen with the knowl-
edge of what is better or worse for the self and others.
Love and rationality must be applied jointly in the
decision-making process, because love and reason are
Martin Montoya Camacho: Love, Identification and Equality
Vol. 11, No. 1. Spring 2016: Page 59
Carlos Moya discussions about the topic. David Widerker
(“A defence of Frankfurtian-friendly libertarianism”, Phil-
osophical Explorations 12 [2009]: 87-108); Alfred Mele &
David Robb (“Rescuing Frankfurt-Style Cases”, The Phil-
osophical Review 107 [1998]: 97-112); Carlos Moya
(“Blockage Cases: No case against PAP”, Crítica 35
[2009], 109-120).
5.In this sense, Frankfurt case allows a room for a kind of
autonomy derived of love’s labour in the human will.
Frankfurt explains that ‘a person acts autonomously only
when his volitions derive from the essential character of his
will. […] When he acts out of love, accordingly, his voli-
tions do derive from the essential character of his will.
Thus, the personal grip of love satisfies the conditions for
autonomy’ Frankfurt, 1999, 132.
6.Frankfurt, 1988, 12.
7.Frankfurt, 1988, 12.
8.See Harry Frankfurt, The Reasons of Love (Princeton,
USA: Princeton University Press, 2004), 18-19.
9.Frankfurt, 1988, 14.
10.‘In those senses of the word [person] which are of
greater philosophical interest, however, the criteria for
being a person do not serve primarily to distinguish the
members of our own species form the members of other
species. Rather, they are designed to capture those at-
tributes which are the subject of our most humane concern
with ourselves and the source of what we regard as most
important and most problematic in our lives’ Frankfurt,
1988, 12.
11.‘The heart of love, however, is neither affective nor
cognitive. It is volitional. That a person cares about or that
he loves something has less to do with how things make
him feel, or with his opinions about them, than with the
more or less stable motivational structures that shape his
preferences and that guide and limit his conduct.’ Frank-
furt, 1999, 129.
12.See Harry Frankfurt, “Taking Ourselves Seriously,” in
Taking Ourselves Seriously & Getting It Right, ed. Debra
Satz (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006), 1-26.
13.In this respect Frankfurt says that genuine necessity of
the will should be susceptible to alteration, but not in the
same sense as inhibitions or aversions (Frankfurt, 1999,
112). These necessities are required for personal autono-
my. But ‘what autonomy requires is not that the essential
nature of the will be a priori, but that the imperatives
deriving from it carry genuine authority. Kant insists that
the requisite authority can be provided only by the necessi-
ties of reason. I believe that it can also be provided by those
of active love.’ Frankfurt, 1999, 135.
14.Harry Frankfurt (“Equality as a Moral Ideal”, Ethics 98
[1987]: 34).
15.Frankfurt, 1987, 35.
16.See Frankfurt, 1987, 36.
17.Thomas Nagel ("Equality," Mortal Questions [Cam-
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979], 117).
18.Frankfurt, 1987, 35.
19.See Frankfurt, 1987, 38-40
20.Frankfurt, explaining what is the essential nature of a
person, says: “the essential nature of triangles, or of trian-
gularity, includes the characteristics that any figure cor-
rectly identified as triangular must necessarily possess.
[…] The essential identity of an individual differs, howev-
er, from that of a type of thing. The essence of triangularity
is an a priori matter of definitional or conceptual necessity.
The essence of a person, on the other hand, is a matter of
is what gives us the freedom to act morally. In this
way, acting as a person is to be respectful of the
personal conditions and the choices of others, i.e. the
acceptance of others with their personal lives and
choices. This acceptance is not devoid of interest, but
rather requires the adoption of a caring attitude. A
good example of this is the relationship between
parents and children, also present in Frankfurt’s
work. In a world with this personal condition, the life
of a human person will necessarily be respected be-
cause personal choices are always shifting.
The power of the manipulator to block personal
choices in the Frankfurt cases is a good metaphor for
a certain cognitive pessimism. With this blockage,
wantons are looking for the effectiveness of their
desires only in a cognitive way, but without the per-
sonal loving condition, which provides the power to
choose, using their volitions to act as persons. The
wanton is unable to make decisions as a person. His
condition will be not personal, but as a manipulated
being. A world of wantons does not need any real
manipulator because the main problem is the unartic-
ulated and weak relationship between love and the
reflective processes in decision-making.
This paper was written throughout a research peri-
od at Jacques Maritain Centre of the University of
Notre Dame, and presented in the 13th International
Conference on Persons at Boston University in Au-
gust 2015. I’m very thankful to John O’Callaghan
(University of Notre Dame) for his invitation to this
research period, to Eleanor Wittrup (University of the
Pacific) who provided insight and expertise that
greatly assisted the presentation of this paper, and for
her commentaries in the session of discussion. Also,
I thank to Richard C. Prust (St. Andrews Presbyterian
College) and William Jaworski (Fordham University)
for their commentaries in the same session. Finally,
thanks to my colleagues at University of Navarra,
José María Torralba and Enrique Moros, for their
remarks in the preparation of the paper.
University of Navarra
1.Harry Frankfurt (The Importance of What We Care
About. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press [1988]:
85-86; 181-182).
2.Harry Frankfurt, “Taking Ourselves Seriously,” in Tak-
ing Ourselves Seriously & Getting It Right, ed. Debra Satz
(Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006), 44-45. Also,
Frankfurt says: ‘Only by virtue of the necessity that it
imposes upon us does love intensify our sense of identity
and of freedom.’ Harry Frankfurt, Necessity, Volition and
Love (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Cambridge Uni-
versity Press, 1999), 114. Nonetheless, Frankfurt has not
satisfactory answer about how this kind of love would be a
rational way to act, and not a blind force in our life.
3.Frankfurt, 1988, 1.
4.This is a broad interpretation of the Frankfurtian coun-
terexample that is shown through the Frankfurt cases’
debate. See David Widerker, Alfred Mele, David Robb and
Martin Montoya Camacho: Love, Identification and Equality
Vol. 11, No. 1. Spring 2016: Page 60
the contingent volitional necessities by which the will of
the person is as a matter of fact constrained.’ Frankfurt,
1999, 138.
21.See, e.g., Christine Korsgaard, “Morality and the Logic
of Caring”, in Taking Ourselves Seriously & Getting It
Right, ed. Debra Satz (Stanford: Stanford University Press,
2006), 74-75.
22.Frankfurt, 1988, 16.
23.This statement is concerned with Harry Frankfurt’s
discussion on drug’s consumers. Addicts who are not able
to reflect on his first-order desires cannot be identified as
persons, because ‘his actions reflect the economy of his
first-order desires, without his being concerned whether
the desires that move him to act are desires by which he
wants to be moved to act.’ Frankfurt, 1988, 18.
24.‘The wanton addict cannot or does not care which of his
conflicting first-order wins out. His lack of concern is not
due to his inability to find a convincing basis for prefer-
ence. It is due either to his lack of the capacity for reflec-
tion or to his mindless indifference to the enterprise of
evaluating his own desires and motives.’ Frankfurt, 1988,
25.‘When a person acts, the desire by which he is moved is
either the will he wants or a will he wants to be without.
When a wanton acts, it is neither.’ Frankfurt, 1988, 19.
26.It seems that, for Frankfurt, wanton is a human being,
and the respect due to him is about this condition, beyond
another ontological consideration. For Frankfurt all hu-
mans have the ability to form second-order desires: ‘Hu-
man beings are not alone in having desires and motives, or
in making choices. They share these things whit the mem-
bers of certain other species, some of whom even appear to
engage in deliberation and to make decisions based upon
prior thought. It seems to be peculiarly characteristic of
humans, however, that they are able to form what I shall
call ‘second-order desires’ or ‘desires of the second order’
Frankfurt, 1988, 12. Also, all humans ‘appears to have the
capacity for reflective self-evaluation that is manifested in
the formation of second-order desires.’ Frankfurt, 1988,
12. The problem with the wanton is that he ‘may act
wantonly, in response to first-order desires concerning
which they have no volitions of the second order, more or
less frequently.’ Frankfurt, 1988, 17.
Martin Montoya Camacho: Love, Identification and Equality
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