The Philosophy of Flirting

For a bit of fun, I wrote a note on the philosophy of flirting a while ago, which will shortly be appearing in The Philosophers’ Magazine. I’ve now posted a probably-final version. The main thesis I want to defend is that one cannot flirt without (in quite a weak sense) intending to do so. I therefore want to distinguish mere flirtatious behaviour from flirting proper. The inadvertantly flirtatious can, I think, fairly defend against accusations of flirting by denying having the intention. (But note that this does not absolve the inadvertantly flirtatious from all potential blame: mere flirtatious behaviour could be just as blameworthy as flirting in the wrong context!)

6 Replies to “The Philosophy of Flirting”

  1. Wow, Carrie, you have given way too much thought to this.

    But it seems to me that one might intend to flirt and, through lack of requisite flirting skills, fail. It’s not purely a matter of one’s intentions and beliefs, is it?

  2. Speaking of success conditions on flirting, it is a traditional tenet of action theory that in order to intend to do X, the person intending to do X must have a belief that he or she can do X (or some such success condition). Those of us who lack some such belief may TRY to flirt, or HOPE to flirt, but can never intentionally flirt (strictly speaking), or so it seems.

    This might suggest that one need not have a belief that one can do X in order to intend to do X, but rather that one have no belief that one can’t do X, or have no belief that X is improbable for me (the agent) to accomplish.

    But, given that I am an inept flirter, and I am aware of this fact, I’m not sure wheter I might ever really flirt again…Is there any real flirting for me im my future???
    —Hopeless in Houston

  3. \”… To facilitate such decisions, it would be helpful to have a secure grasp on what flirting actually amounts to. And there are many other uses to which such a grasp could be put. If, say, one stands accused that one\‘s own behaviour of the previous evening constituted an act of flirtation, one is equipped to respond to the accusation if one can point to some necessary condition on acts of flirtation which was not met in this case.\”

    This made me smile.

    Partner (in tears): you were flirting with him, Carrie! I saw you!

    Carrie: Darling, if you would only consult (Jenkins, 2006) you would realise that my sticking my tongue in his ear failed to fulfil i-iv) of the conditions necessary for flirting.

    Partner: Oh, that\‘s ok then. Pass me that copy of Nous will you?

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