Keeping the Love Alive

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It is argued that relationship theory is a reflection of modern developments in causal theory, away from Newtonian efficient causation to formal causation in the theories of subatomic physics. Mechanistic psychological explanation has foundered on the fact that there are no underlying efficient causes to be found to account for the ultimate patterning of behaviours into relationships. Psychologists no longer need to `reduce' descriptions of personal relationships to underlying efficient-cause determinants. Theories of personal relationship are fundamentally teleological in assumption and descriptive style. It is shown how the formal-cause conception is a necessary but not sufficient ingredient to telic description. Final causation is required to capture human teleology, and thanks to dialectical reasoning we have a way of accounting for such agential behaviour. The paper closes with a survey of logical learning theory, which is offered in this context as a useful teleological formulation in the description of personal relationships.

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