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Friendship

Last updated March 23, 2022

“The ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self. The ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone, and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them, and to have believed in them, and sometimes, just to have accompanied them, for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone” – David Whyte

Friendship as witnesses to eudaimonic well-being.

the type of happiness or contentment that is achieved through self-actualization and having meaningful purpose in one’s life

adrienne maree brown described relationships like a spiderweb—diaphanous yet strong, thick yet porous. “A web allows things to fall through, like a sieve,” she said. “Some things are not meant to be caught.”

Related: Tribe flourishing

Epistemic trust

From Believing the best: on doxastic partiality in friendship by Lindsay Crawford

Argues that there is no conflict between friendship and epistemic norms as being a good friend constitutively involves forming attitudes about one’s friends that are appropriately responsive to the features that one’s friends have that appear to warrant those attitudes

Note: property $x$ being constitutive of $p$ is not a normative reason for $p$ to have $x$

It is not true that friendship can normatively require doxastic (logic/belief) partiality but not for the reasons given against partiality by “evidentialists”

Types of deliberation

  1. Practical deliberation:
  2. Theoretical deliberation:

We can be partial to your friends but they can be wrong given state-given reasons. We can be partial to our friends but not because it is normative to be always partial to our friends

On deliberation: deliberation concludes in an attitude of some kind, not the action itself

State-given vs appropriately responsive attitudes

# Epistemic Norms, The False Belief Requirement, and Love

By J. Spencer Atkins

Argues that the demands of romantic love requires that we sometimes become bad epistemic agents

Companionship is pleasurable and consequently valuable because it affords the opportunity to feel “seen” by another. We can only, according to Braden, view ourselves conceptually—we know things about ourselves—but we need others to view ourselves perceptually, “as concrete objects ‘out there.’” Other consciousnesses function like a mirror. Being seen in this way is recognition of personhood. The feeling of being seen is psychological visibility. Romantic love affords a “uniquely powerful” experience of visibility because lovers share a fascination with one another unlike any other relationship.

Doxastic voluntarism: we can make ourselves belief a proposition

  1. False Belief Requirement
    • Argues that romantic love sometimes poses the demand to believe falsely
    • Knowledge as JTB (see Knowledge Argument): $S$ believes that $p$, $S$ is justified in believing that $p$, and $p$ is true
    • Belief then, is not knowledge as one can hold false beliefs
    • W.K. Clifford: “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence”
    • When love poses the false belief argument, love will be opposed to epistemic norms
    • Delaney argues that lovers desire to be loved for the right reasons. That is, person $A$ wants a romantic partner $B$ to love him for properties that $A$ takes central to their self-conception
  2. Doxastic Wronging (the demand not to wrong one another)
    • True beliefs can wrong
      • Example, base rates: “For instance, suppose that the swanky DC night club, the Cosmos Club, has nearly all black employees and nearly all white club members. A person looking for an employee, where employees and club members both wear tuxedoes, would be epistemically rational to believe that some particular black person is an employee, given the base rate at the Cosmos Club”
    • Three conditions of doxastic wronging
      1. Directed Condition: belief wrongs a particular person, not just wrong in general
      2. Belief Itself Condition: holding the belief is what wrongs (not how the belief was formed or the actions that follow from the belief)
      3. Content Condition: content of the belief wrongs
    • Lovers stand in a privileged position – they know things not usually shared with other people. This position makes them especially vulnerable to doxastic wronging

# Love and False Belief

Week 9 Essay for PHIL 240A

Evaluate Atkins’ argument that love sometimes requires false belief. (Remember that to evaluate an argument, you have to explain what it is, and then say why it is or is not convincing).

Atkin’s argument that love sometimes rqeuires false belief extends upon the work of Sarah Stroud and Simon Keller about the conflicts between relationships and epistemology. Both Stroud and Keller claim that those who know each other intimately (either platonic or romantic) should owe each other epistemic partiality. However, Atkin’s extends this further and posits that love requires “something beyond epistemic partiality – false beliefs.”

Atkin’s calls this the False Belief Requirement (FBR). Atkin’s then tries to argue that love is opposed to epistemic norms as follows:

  1. Knowledge is justified true belief (JTB): $S$ believes that $p$, $S$ is justified in believing that $p$, and $p$ is true
  2. Belief then cannot be knowledge as one can hold beliefs that are false
  3. Thus, when poses the false belief argument, love will be opposed to epistemic norms (and thus rationality)

Delaney argues that lovers desire to be loved for the right reasons. That is, person $A$ wants a romantic partner $B$ to love them for properties that $A$ takes central to their self-conception. Atkins then claims that false beliefs are required in order to avoid doxastic wrong-doing – the wronging of another by having beliefs that do not align with the other’s self-conception.

Here, I don’t think Atkins’ line of argumentation is correct. I agree with Delaney’s point about lovers wanting to be loved for properties that they take central to their self-conception. However, I don’t think that false beliefs are required for this want to hold true.

Take for example, the cases of striving that Atkin’s mentions. Cases of striving, as Atkin defines it, occurs when one prematurely sees themselves as what they desire to become. Specifically, “truth is not required, for example, in striving cases where we desire to premature be seen as what we hope to become.” Let me illustrate why this is not the case.

Say I want to become a painter – I am striving to be a painter. But I generally do not claim that I am a painter until I am confident and believe that to be the case. If I do say that “I am a painter,” this is a case of ‘fake it until you make it’. The actual underlying belief (and hope) is that I will eventually be a painter rather than actually believing that I currently am a painter. In this example, one explicitly repeats an obviously false statement to others in order to get external social reinforcement to create necessary social structures to enforce this to happen. My partner then knows that this statement is not necessarily a statement about my current skill with painting but rather a wish about a future skill of painting. They would not take the obviously false statement at face value and instead believes in the underlying true belief that I strive to be a painter. Much like sarcasm, those socially aware of the situation will believe the real deeper intention over the facade statement. This, to me, is a clear flaw in Atkin’s argument that love requires false belief.


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