It is undeniable that love plays an enormous and unavoidable role in our lives; we find it discussed in songs, movies, and novels and in anything we love; it is a constant theme of maturing life and a vibrant theme for youth. Philosophically, the nature of love has, since the time of the Ancient Greeks, been a mainstay in philosophy, producing theories that range from the materialistic conception of love as purely a physical phenomenon—an animalistic or genetic urge that dictates our behavior—to theories of love as an intensely spiritual affair that in its highest permits us to touch divinity.
Is it ethically acceptable to love an object, or to love oneself? Is love to oneself or to another a duty? Should the ethically minded person aim to love all people equally? Is partial love morally acceptable or permissible (that is, not right, but excusable)? Should love only involve those with whom the agent can have a meaningful relationship? Should love aim to transcend sexual desire or physical appearances? May notions of romantic, sexual love apply to same-sex couples? How do we know what love is?