Of course, Aristotle (and Annas) would reject this reading: friends donot merely have such similarities antecedent to their friendship as anecessary condition of friendship. Rather, friends can influence andshape each other’s evaluative outlook, so that the sharing of asense of value is reinforced through the dynamics of theirrelationship. One way to make sense of this is through theAristotelian idea that friends function as a kind of mirror of eachother: insofar as friendship rests on similarity of character, andinsofar as I can have only imperfect direct knowledge about my owncharacter, I can best come to know myself—both the strengths andweaknesses of my character—by knowing a friend who reflects myqualities of character. Minor differences between friends, as when myfriend on occasion makes a choice I would not have made, can lead meto reflect on whether this difference reveals a flaw in my owncharacter that might need to be fixed, thereby reinforcing thesimilarity of my and my friend’s evaluative outlooks. On thisreading of the mirroring view, my friend plays an entirely passiverole: just by being himself, he enables me to come to understand myown character better (cf. Badhwar 2003).
At this point it might seem that the proper consequentialist reply tothis line of criticism is to refuse to accept the claim that a moraljustification of the value of friendship and friendly actions must bepersonal: the good of friendship and the good that friendly actionspromote, a consequentialist should say, are things we must be able tounderstand in impersonal terms or they would not enter into a properlymoral justification of the rightness of action. Becausesophisticated consequentialists agree that motivation out offriendship must be personal, they must reject the idea that theultimate moral reasons for acting in these cases are your motives,thereby rejecting the relatively weak motivational internalism that isimplicit in the friendship critique (for weak motivationalinternalism, see the entry on , and in particular the section on ). Indeed, this seems to be Railton’s strategy in articulating hisobjective consequentialism: to be a good person is to act inthe morally right ways (justified by consequentialism) and so to have,on balance, motivations that tend to produce right action, even thoughin certain cases (including those of friendship) these motivationsneed not—indeed cannot—have the consequentialistjustification in view. (For further elaborations of this strategy indirect response to Badhwar 1991, see Conee 2001 and Card 2004; for adefense of Railton in opposition to Card’s elaboration ofsophisticated consequentialism, see Tedesco 2006.)
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I try very hard to practice compassion and understanding with the amazing women I have in my life. The friendships I have are incredibly important to me and, being a woman myself, I know there are days when you just can’t get everything right. I try to give women the forgiveness I hope they can afford me on my bad days; however, lately I have been continuously troubled by one of my long-time female friends. We have diverged in our thinking and approach to life over the years but have managed to remain close. I have noticed she has upheld a high school friendship with a man who has become nothing short of appalling. He has a violent social media presence where he often attacks transgender women and “SJWs.” He degrades feminism and its ideals, something that is integral to my life.