Possessing Love’s Reasons: Or Why a Rationalist Lover Can Have a Normal Romantic Life

  • Ting Cho Lau (King’s College, PA)


The rationalist lover accepts that whom she ought to love is whom she has most reason to love. She also accepts that the qualities of a person are reasons to love them. This seems to suggest that if the rationalist lover encounters someone with better qualities than her beloved, then she is rationally required to trade up. In this paper, I argue that this need not be the case and the rationalist lover can have just about as normal if not a better romantic life than anyone could hope for. This is because we often do possess most reason to love our beloveds. To see why this is so, we have to think more carefully about (i) how we come to possess reasons for love and (ii) the higher-order reasons that govern whether we should seek or refrain from possessing said reasons. Reflection on these issues leads to what I call the Possession-Commitment Account of Love’s Reasons. I use this account to address additional worries for love rationalism and highlight how being rational about love can potentially get us out of romantic messes. I conclude that if being a rationalist about love is plausible after all, then we have reason to hope that being rational about other areas of our practical lives is plausible as well.

How to Cite:

Lau, T., (2021) “Possessing Love’s Reasons: Or Why a Rationalist Lover Can Have a Normal Romantic Life”, Ergo 8: 13. doi:

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Published on
13 Dec 2021
Peer Reviewed