The following claim is very plausible:
- When x loves y, the love creates the reasons for the central cases of x's acting lovingly towards y.
- Love is a virtue.
For consider how it is with other virtues. A person who is courageous does not have any more reason to stand firm in the face of danger than a coward. Indeed, the coward has just as much reason to stand firm as the brave person, and that is why it is no justification of running away to say: "But I am a coward." Thus, courage is a disposition to act on reasons antecedent to having courage. When we say: "Courage requires you to do A", it is no answer to say: "But I don't have courage." For the central cases of what courage requires you to do are things that it is virtuous to do, whether or not you are in fact courageous. The logical grammar of "Courage requires you to do A" differs from its surface grammar, in that the surface form suggests the actual existence of courage, but in fact courage would require us to stand firm in the face of danger, when reasonable, even if nobody was courageous. (Challenge: Come up with a good analysis of the logical grammar of "Virtue V requires you to do A".) The same is true of other virtues. One has reasons of generosity to act generously, whether one is in fact a generous or a stingy person. The central reasons of justice are independent of whether one in fact is just. And so on.
By analogy, then, if (2) is true, then the central reasons of love should be independent of whether one has love. I think that is actually true. It is almost certainly true of love in general. But it may to a large extent be true even of particular forms of love. "Filial love requires respect," one may say. But the respect is no less required if one does not actually have filial love. And the respect is a constitutive part of what it is to have filial love. If I am right, then the tension between (1) and (2) should be resolved by denying (1).