How Does the Nature of Friendship Affect Our Moral Obligations

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With reference to Aristotle and/or Kant, explain the nature of friendship. How does the nature of friendship affect our moral obligations?

Friendship involves a relationship between two beings pertaining to the elements of freedom, choice and love; “an association of two persons through equal and mutual love and respect” (Kant 1965, p. 469). Friendships offer support, affection, companionship and a sense of connection with another being. Aristotle and Kant hold similar views on friendship and recognise that the notion plays a central role in a meaningful and happy life, and also has a profound effect on our moral obligations. As individuals, we experience three main types of companionship, namely the friendship of utility or need, the friendship of pleasure or taste and the friendship of good or disposition. These three categories signify that we love or like our friends on the basis of three varying motivations. Furthermore, these encounters impact upon our psyche and belief systems to various degrees, changing us as humans and augmenting our views and morals.

The friendship of utility or the friendship of need states that each person does not love each other for their personal qualities, but rather that they derive some benefit from one another. “This friendship comes about when men can trust one another in the mutual provision for the needs of life. It was the original form of friendship amongst men, and is encountered mostly in the crudest social conditions” (Grunebaum 2003, p.71). Friendship of need or utility is similar in both Kant and Aristotle as the two agree that it does not survive changes in the individuals circumstances. These mutual advantages or needs form the base of the relation, and if this ground disappears, so too does the friendship. Kant argues that this level of relation is a reflection of a primitive social structure, whereas…...

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