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The Philosophy Of Flirting

Carrie Jenkins
Published 2010 · Psychology
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What is it to flirt? Do you have to intend to flirt with someone in order to count as doing so? Can such things as dressing a certain way count as flirting? Can one flirt with an AI character? With one’s own long-term partner? With an idea? The question of whether or not an act of flirtation has taken place is often highly significant in our practical decision-making. For example, one may want to know whether or not one’s partner has been flirting with other people in order to decide whether to continue the relationship. Or one may want to know whether two of one’s friends have been flirting with each other in order to decide whether to give them some time alone. 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 behavior 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. Dictionary definitions of flirting seem to be somewhat deficient, suggesting that one cannot flirt when one has serious designs on the person being flirted with. The Oxford English Dictionary, for instance, suggests one only counts as flirting if one lacks “serious intentions” and is “playing” at courtship, “without any intention of responding to the feelings

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