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The Medicalization of Love and Narrow and Broad Conceptions of Human Well-Being

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 June 2015


Would a “medicalization” of love be a “good” or “bad” form of medicalization? In discussing this question, Earp, Sandberg, and Savulescu primarily focus on the potential positive and negative consequences of turning love into a medical issue. But it can also be asked whether there is something intrinsically regrettable about medicalizing love. It is argued here that the medicalization of love can be seen as an “evaluative category mistake”: it treats a core human value (love) as if it were mainly a means to other ends (viz. physical health and hedonic well-being). It is also argued that Earp et al’s closing argument (that a scientific perspective on love actually adds more value to love) can be seen as involving another evaluative category mistake: it treats an object of desire and practical interest (namely, love) as if it mainly were an object of scientific contemplation and theoretical interest. It is concluded that, to relate love to health and well-being in a more satisfying way, we should construe the latter two in broader ways, whereby love is itself a component or element of human flourishing.

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