Degree Name






Defense Date


Publication Date


First Faculty Advisor

Justin White

First Faculty Reader

Derek Haderlie

Honors Coordinator

Ryan Christensen


Philosophy of Love, Moral Failure, Abuse, Relationships


In this thesis, I aim to establish the groundwork for an account of love that is sensitive to serious moral failure, both descriptively and normatively. I attempt to articulate not only how love is compromised by abuse, but also by serious moral failure that is not directed at the relationship participant. I first refute two popular accounts that argue for the compatibility of moral failure with love, Vida Yao’s permissive love and Eric Matthes’s dismissive love, on the grounds that they fail to adequately respond to more serious moral flaws. I then propose my own conception of practical identity as it pertains to moral flaws and draw an essential distinction between benign and malicious moral flaws. I posit that malicious moral flaws are, in almost all cases, incompatible with a genuinely loving relationship due to the estrangement that they foster. I argue that under a Kolodnian view of love, we can meaningfully rescind the love we’ve extended to a relationship. Finally, I claim that the vulnerability and morally fraught dispositions that result from engaging in a relationship with a maliciously flawed person imbue us with a responsibility to disengage from that relationship.