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Constandse, A.C.

Department of Theoretical Philosophy

The Role of Exclusivity in Theories of Love

For a long time one of the most neglected areas within philosophical research was that of love and sexuality. It is very fortunate that this has slowly been changing, given that love and sexuality are two of the most important aspects of most people’s lives. Gradually, more and more philosophers have contributed to this debate. But one of the subjects that remain scantly discussed is that of non-monogamy. Most discussions about love are still framed within the context of monogamous relationships between two partners, even though nowadays there is a large number of people who identify as having open-relationships or as polyamorous, sometimes having whole networks of intertwined romantic relationships.

In this thesis, I will take a different perspective on the philosophy of love and investigate what four different theories of love seem to imply about exclusivity and non-monogamy. The central question that I address is what types of exclusivity play a role in romantic love relationships. I begin with an explanation of what I mean when I talk about romantic love. Then I make a distinction between eight different ways in which a romantic relationship can be said to be exclusive. Subsequently, I discuss monogamous and non-monogamous forms of romantic relationships. After that, I take these kinds of exclusivity and look at four important current theories of love and address the question how much weight each of them puts on the requirement of exclusivity. On the basis of this I determine to what extent each of these theories leaves space for non-monogamous romantic relationship forms alongside monogamous ones.

Last modified:01 September 2015 11.57 a.m.