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Towards a Theory of Emotional Attachment

In my dissertation, I identify what I call “security-based attachment” as a philosophically neglected, yet rich and ubiquitous emotional phenomenon, and I develop an account of its nature and value. Roughly, this brand of attachment is marked by a felt need of its object and an integral connection between engagement with that object and the attached agent’s sense of security. After articulating its key marks and distinguishing it from related phenomena (e.g., caring), I show that security-based attachment has important implications for understanding emotion and agency. Specifically, I argue that this attitude illuminates both the specific types of relationship that undergird warranted grief and the particular brands of affect and agential impairment characteristic of grief’s phenomenology. In addition, I argue that contra strong disinterested concern views of love, security-based attachment represents a type of self-interestedness that is not only permissible in, but essential to, some kinds of love.

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