Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. David Bradshaw


Essay 1: As interpersonal communication has changed with the proliferation of technology-based forms of meeting and interacting with others, philosophers have begun considering ways in which these new types of communication have altered the landscape of our relationships. Although philosophers are split on whether online friendships can measure up to the Aristotelean standard of virtue friendship, none have questioned the importance of truth telling or accurate representation of oneself in the context of online sharing. The underlying assumption is that in a virtuous friendship, there is no role whatsoever for anything other than strict honestly. I disagree with this assumption because I think it fails to account for the beneficial, generative potential of being approximately honest with one another in the context of close friendship. In this essay, I examine the role honesty plays in online friendship and make a case for a kind of relationship I call generative friendship, which forgoes the standard of strict honesty in favor of a mutually created, idealized rendering of the self and one’s friend that resembles artistic interpretation as applied to the context of friendship.

Essay 2: One of the most interesting discussions in recent scholarship on love involves a question concerning what we are attracted to when we love someone. In seeking to understand this, philosophers have offered answers ranging from the claim that lovers respond to specific qualities or properties possessed by the beloved, to more broad-ranging notions such as love can only be understood as an attraction to the entire person of the beloved. Although each attempt to identify the nature of love succeeds in addressing certain aspects of the phenomenon, frequently it is at the expense of some other, equally important feature. The result has been a series of analytical essays offering competing claims or ad hoc additions aimed at shoring up these inadequacies. In an attempt to reconcile competing views on the nature of love—seemingly at an impasse—this essay suggests viewing love in narrative terms as a way to bring these views together as complements to one another, while at the same time providing a framework for understanding love as a coherent whole.

Essay 3: In keeping with the characteristic emphasis on rationality and the will, Stoic thinkers such as Epictetus and Seneca conceptualize intimate relationships, including friendships, by focusing on critical thinking and choice. On this view, persons become friends through an analytical process of weighing pros and cons and then deciding either to pursue or refrain from friendship. In contrast, this essay describes friendship formation—in particular, the initial stage of attraction to a particular person—in terms of recognition communicated primarily through embodied experience at an unconscious level. Drawing on concepts from both ancient and contemporary philosophy, this essay sketches a phenomenological account of attraction as the recognition of values expressed bodily through such things as comportment, language and gestures.

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