On Friendship, Affection, and Other-Concern

March 18, 2023 - March 19, 2023
Philosophy Department, Toronto Metropolitan University

63 Gould Street
Toronto M5B 1E9

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University of Iowa


Toronto Metropolitan University

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Friendship is an undoubtedly substantial facet of our lives, and the pervasiveness of friendship as a human constant across all societies displays that it is almost necessary to live a good life.

And while the ancient Greek word “philia” has long been associated with our modern conceptions of friendship, the term encompasses more than our personal intimacies and affections for friends. Far more than just rooted in bonds of affection and emotional warmth, philia also entails the duties of reciprocal obligation; our friends are whom we are obliged to help, but also whom we can rely on for help in times of need. Thus, the friend is marked not just by affection, but a series of complex obligations, duties, and concern for others (i.e., other-concern).

From this, we can call into question what goes into our friendships, and whether we can have them apart from our obligations towards them.

Contemporary questions also arise from our investigations of friendship such as: are virtual friends comparable with friends in the ‘real world’? Are there any consequences of living a friendless life? What are the ways in which we go about befriending, and are they sufficient to establish long-lasting friendships?

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