Polygamy is a hotly contested practice and open to widespread misunderstandings. This practice is defined as a relationship between either one husband and multiple wives or one wife and multiple husbands. Today, 'polygamy' almost exclusively takes the form of one husband with multiple wives. In this article, my focus will centre on limited defences of polygamy offered recently by Chesire Calhoun and Martha Nussbaum. I will argue that these defences are unconvincing. The problem with polygamy is (...) primarily that it is a structurally inegalitarian practice in both theory and fact. Polygamy should be opposed for this reason. (shrink)
I distinguish two ways that a cultural practice may be inherently objectionable. I reject the claim that polygamy is inherently "vicious" because asymmetric marriages are inevitably inegalitarian. I argue that there is good reason to think polygamy is inherently "bankrupt" insofar as a cultural ideal of asymmetric marriage presupposes stereotypical gender roles.
If a state with liberal political and justificatory commitments extends benefits of various kinds to persons forming families, what qualifications may such a state place on the right to access to those benefits? I will make two assumptions for the purposes of this paper. The first is the political and justificatory terrain of some form of political or otherwise non-perfectionist liberalism. The assumption is that we are considering the resources and limitations of a community of persons who accept moral pluralism (...) (if not a specific doctrine like the "burdens of judgment"), some priority for individual freedom, and the obligation to justify public coercion and exclusion in terms accessible and fair to all members of morally and culturally diverse society. The second is that it is justified for a liberal state to recognize some forms of domestic partnerships or families in the first place and extend further benefits to them such as tax credits or laws extending (or facilitating the extension of) medical or social insurance. It is, of course, possible to imagine the argument that the liberal state gets out of the marriage business by getting out of it entirely - by extending no recognition or positive rights to families whatsoever beyond negative non-interference rights. I am interested in the dilemma of a society broadly like existing liberal ones which is committed both to subsidizing families and also to justificatory neutrality (expressed in American constitutional legal terms as the requirement of providing a "rational basis" for unequal treatment). Given these assumptions, I believe that the most justifiable policy on liberal grounds is not the institution of "marriage" increasingly open to new constituent relationships but rather a status of "registered domestic partnership" which fulfills the social and moral aims behind subsidizing the family but is entirely neutral not only to the gender or even to the numbers of the partners, but also to the affective and emotional content of domestic life and the purposes behind contracting domestic partnerships. So is there a right to polygamy and incestuous marriage? There is not a specific right to either and thus there is no a priori reason why some restrictions or even prohibitions on them might not be justified, but the same is true for every specific act where a general right to the freedom exists. I argue in this paper, however, that the arguments compatible with public reason for prohibiting them outright, or even for excluding them from the permissible types of legally registered partnerships, are quite weak. I argue that objections to polygamy from (1) female autonomy, (2) damage to children, (3) fairness in the marital market, and (4) the unfair burdening of society are serious and worth refuting, but do not establish a victorious case against multi-member relationships. As to incest, there are two separate questions. The first is whether the new institution of "registered domestic partnerships" should be open to them. The answer to that, given the state's lack of interest in citizens' reasons for forming partnerships and in what they do whilst being registered in one, is clearly "yes." The second is whether, entirely separate from the issue of legal recognition of domestic partnership, the state has a legitimate rational interest in deterring, preventing or punishing consanguineous sexual relations between close blood relations (first-degree incest). Here, the objections to allowing such relations are those from (1) child abuse; (2) unfair burdening of society; and (3) the creation of bad lives. I argue that while rape and other forms of child abuse would be no more legal or tolerated than they are now, the concern about any form of weakening a society's legal and political resources to combat such abuses does indeed register on the justificatory scale, but does not prove that such first-degree incestuous sexual relations are inherently bad enough to warrant intervention. I then argue that the concern about unfairly burdening society with unhealthy persons is not as dangerously totalitarian as we might initially fear, but nor is it strong enough to justify an outright prohibition. Finally, I argue that a concern to dissuade persons from creating certain kinds of lives (children with extreme birth defects) is also not as dangerously totalitarian as we might initially fear, and in fact goes further towards explaining why we might have a legitimate interest in intervening. Nonetheless, I argue that the criminalization of such acts only make sense when they are indicators of other offenses, namely negligence or abuse, and it thus seems that the act of consanguineous reproduction is itself insufficient. (shrink)
This essay argues that the four most plausible arguments compatible with public reason for an outright legal ban on all forms of polygamy are unvictorious. My purpose is not to survey exhaustively the empirical literature on contemporary forms of polygamy, but to tease out the types of arguments political liberals would have to insist on, and precisely how strongly, in order for a general prohibition against polygamy to be justified. The most common objection to polygamy is (...) on grounds of gender equality, more specifically, female equality. But advancing this argument forcefully often involves neglecting the tendency of political liberalism (whatever name it goes by in contemporary, complex, multicultural societies) to tolerate a certain amount of inegalitarianism in private, within the bounds of robust and meaningful freedoms of choice and exit. Properly understood, polygamy involves no inherent statement about the essential inferiority of women, and certainly not more than many other existing practices and institutions (including many expressions of the main monotheistic religions) which political liberals regard as tolerable. (shrink)
This paper argues that the four most plausible arguments compatible with public reason for an outright legal ban on all forms of polygamy are unvictorious. I consider the types of arguments political liberals would have to insist on, and precisely how strongly, in order for a general prohibition against polygamy to be justified, while also considering what general attitude towards "marriage" and legal recognition of the right to marry are most consistent with political liberalism. I argue that a (...) liberal state should get out of the "marriage business" by leveling down to a universal status of "civil union" neutral as to the gender and affective purpose of domestic partnerships. I then refute what I regard as the four most plausible rational objections to offering this civil union status to multi-member domestic partnerships. The most common objection to polygamy is on grounds of gender equality, more specifically, female equality. But advancing this argument forcefully often involves neglecting the tendency of political liberalism (by whatever name it goes in contemporary, complex, multicultural societies) to tolerate a certain amount of inequality in private, within the bounds of robust and meaningful freedoms of choice and exit. Properly understood, polygamy involves no inherent statement about the essential inferiority of women, and certainly not more than many other existing practices and institutions (including many expressions of the main monotheistic religions) which political liberals regard as tolerable, even reasonable. Arguments from the welfare of children, fairness in the spousal market, and the abuse of family subsidies are also considered and found insufficient for excluding polygamy. (shrink)
This paper offers a genealogy of anti-polygamy sentiment in North America, elucidating certain racist and nationalist formations that are implicit in the historical valorization and enforcement of heterosexual monogamy. It tracks the white supremacist and heteronormative logic that conditions the widespread disdain toward polygamy, and that renders it fundamentally different from familial configurations that are associated with national identity. Relating political and philosophical doctrines to the archival documentation and insights of contemporary legal and cultural historians of anti-polygamy (...) sentiment, it elucidates the racial Anglo-Saxonism of Hegel's ruminations on marriage and on the state, and highlights its reverberation within the political philosophy that justified the criminalization of polygamy and its supporting institutions in the nineteenth century and in contemporary immigration policy and same-sex marriage advocacy in Canada and the United States. (shrink)
Part I of this paper examines liberal toleration and its relevance to the debate on polygamy. The remaining sections consider Marci Hamilton’s claim that polygamy should not be accommodated. Hamilton’s position rests on three kinds of arguments which I call: 1) the argument from public reason; 2) the argument from democracy; and 3) the argument from exploitation. Each of these fails: 1) fails because Hamilton’s conception of public reason is too restrictive; 2) fails because it rests on a (...) procedural test which attempts to balance claims about rights against claims about the public good—and thus presupposes a flawed conception of rights; 3) is the most compelling of Hamilton’s arguments but could be met in principle if one can show that the right design of background institutions can accommodate polygamy without sponsoring an exploitative form of marriage. (shrink)
Recent defenses of same-sex marriage and polygamy have invoked the liberal doctrines of neutrality and public reason. Such reasoning is generally sound but does not go far enough. This paper traces the full implications of political liberalism for marriage. I argue that the constraints of public reason, applied to marriage law, entail ‘minimal marriage’, the most extensive set of state-determined restrictions on marriage compatible with political liberalism. Minimal marriage sets no principled restrictions on the sex or number of spouses (...) and the nature and purpose of their caring relationships, nor on which marital rights are exchanged, and whether they are exchanged reciprocally or asymmetrically. Minimal marriage supports adult care networks, urban tribes, friendships, and other forms of relationships as well as ‘traditional’ marriages. I provide a publically justifiable rationale for a legal framework supporting non-dependent caring relationships between adults. The argument is that caring relationships are primary goods, and that liberal justice accordingly requires legal frameworks supporting caring relationships. Minimal marriage is one such framework. (shrink)
The Progressive favors extending the legal institution of marriage so as to include same-sex unions along with heterosexual ones. The Traditionalist opposes such an extension, preferring to retain the legal institution of marriage in its present form. I argue that the Progressive ought to broaden her position, endorsing instead the Liberal case for extending the current institution so as to include polygamous unions as well—for any consideration favoring Progressivism over Traditionalism likewise favors Liberalism over Progressivism. Progressives inclined to resist Liberalism (...) are invited to consider an alternative position: the Libertarian stance that favors instead the ‘disestablishment’ of marriage. (shrink)
(Portuguese translation) in Immanuel Kant: Perspectivas Internacionais (Immanuel Kant: International Perspectives), ed. and tr. Amos Nascimento (Piracicaba, Brazil: UNIMEP University Press, forthcoming 2006).
In this article I consider whether there a right to incestuous marriage. I begin by suggesting that the liberal state get out of the "marriage" business by leveling down to a universal civil union or "registered domestic partnership" status. Removing the symbolism of the term "marriage" from political conflict, privatizing it in the same way as religion, would have the advantage of both consistency and political reconciliation. The question is then whether incestuous unions should be both legal and eligible for (...) this status. I argue that the arguments compatible with public reason for prohibiting them outright, or even for excluding them from the permissible types of legally registered partnerships, are quite weak. The objections to allowing such relations are those from (1) child abuse; (2) unfair burdening of society; and (3) the creation of bad lives. I argue that while rape and other forms of child abuse would be no more legal or tolerated than they are now, the concern about any form of weakening a society's legal and political resources to combat such abuses does indeed register on the justificatory scale, but does not prove that such first-degree incestuous sexual relations are inherently bad enough to warrant intervention in their own right. I then argue that the concern about unfairly burdening society with unhealthy persons is not as dangerously totalitarian as we might initially fear, but nor is it strong enough to justify an outright prohibition. Finally, I argue that a concern to dissuade persons from creating certain kinds of lives (children with extreme birth defects) is also not as dangerously totalitarian as we might initially fear, and in fact goes further towards explaining why we might have a legitimate interest in intervening. Nonetheless, I argue that the criminalization of such acts only make sense when they are indicators of other offenses, namely negligence or abuse, and it thus seems that the act of consanguineous reproduction is itself insufficient. One potentially surprising conclusion of this inquiry is that far from creating strong reasons for tolerating these practices, religious or cultural reasons for valuing incest (as well as polygamy) actually seem to count against tolerating them. The reason is that from a liberal perspective, tolerating polygamy and incest involves the assumption that it is possible to disassociate polygamy and incest simpliciter from abusive practices associated with them, including environments where children are raised to devalue their own sexual (and other) autonomy. However, the presence of comprehensive doctrines which include polygyny or incest as part of a good life actually makes it harder to justify disassociating polygamy and incest themselves from the likely abuse and coercion practiced by those who would value polygyny or incest. (shrink)
Introduction to the study of African Christian ethics -- Foundations of contemporary African ethics -- Foundations of Western ethics -- Foundations of Christian ethics -- Foundations of African Christian ethics -- Applying African Christian ethics -- Church and state -- War and violence -- Strikes -- Poverty -- Corruption -- Fund-raising -- Procreation and infertility -- Reproductive technologies -- Contraception -- Polygamy -- Domestic violence -- Divorce and remarriage -- Widows and orphans -- Rape -- Incest -- Prostitution and (...) sex trafficking -- Female circumcision -- Homosexuality -- HIV/AIDS -- Abortion -- Euthanasia and infanticide -- Strikes and medical services -- Drug and alcohol abuse -- Witchcraft. (shrink)
When can ever be justified in banning a religious practice? This paper focusses on Martha Nussbaum's capabilities approach. Certain religious practices create a clash between capabilities where the capability to religious belief and expression is in conflict with the capability of equal status and nondiscrimination. One example of such a clash is the case of polygamy. Nussbaum argues that there may be circumstances where polygamy may be acceptable. On the contrary, I argue that the capabilities approach cannot justify (...)polygamy in any circumstance. Her approach rules out polygamy, but may not rule out all non-monogamous relationships, such as polyamory. Finally, I conclude that the capabilities approach would benefit from a more robust understanding of recognition. (shrink)
We are economists with a long-standing interest in evolutionary psychology, who recently came to appreciate the rich collections of relevant data cultural anthropologists have spent decades collecting on the social environments of a wide range of human societies. While we found some systematic collections of these observations, we could not find a systematic summary of the social environment of the subsample of societies that most resemble the social environment where most human psychology seems to have evolved: small bands of nomadic (...) foragers. This short paper therefore represents our attempt to create such a summary. Using an existing dataset aggregated from diverse ethnographies, we collect statistics on the social environment of the studied cultures which most closely resemble our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Compared with relatively modern societies, nomadic foragers had similar levels of food and disease, and less murder and suicide. They did not fight over land or resources, and they enforced justice directly and personally. They avoided class divisions like rich vs. poor, shared food more, and their leaders had no formal powers. Polygamy, premarital sex, and extramarital sex were all widespread, divorce was easy, and men and women were generally considered equal. Kids were taught to be more generous, trusting, and honest, and were never punished physically. (shrink)
This book examines, through a multi-disciplinary lens, the possibilities offered by relationships and family forms that challenge the nuclear family ideal, and some of the arguments that recommend or disqualify these as legitimate units in our societies. That children should be conceived naturally, born to and raised by their two young, heterosexual, married to each other, genetic parents; that this relationship between parents is also the ideal relationship between romantic or sexual partners; and that romance and sexual intimacy ought to (...) be at the core of our closest personal relationships - all these elements converge towards the ideal of the nuclear family. The authors consider a range of relationship and family structures that depart from this ideal: polyamory and polygamy, single and polyparenting, parenting by gay and lesbian couples, as well as families created through current and prospective modes of assisted human reproduction such as surrogate motherhood, donor insemination, and reproductive cloning. (shrink)
Although "intrasexual selection" has been accepted as the mechanism by which males evolve elaborate secondary sexual traits which are used in aggressive contests, the importance of "intersexual selection" as a mechanism by which males have acquired exaggerated traits to display to females during courtship was less readily accepted. In spite of this scepticism, several genetic models have supported the latter idea, and many empirical studies showed that females were generally more discriminating in mate choice than males, because of differences in (...) relative investment between sexes. Nowadays, this idea is reinforced by various concepts (parental investment, potential reproductive rate, environmental potential for polygamy...) which stress that the strength of sexual selection is related to many interdependent factors, such as mating systems, resource distribution (food, habitat, mate), life history and other ecological characteristics. The case of Salmonids is presented here to show how novel information on sexual selection has contributed to the understanding of the plasticity of breeding patterns in the context of evolutionary biology. (shrink)
How you can respect a culture with blood feuds? A culture with polygamy? It’s not possible. You can be rightly against something or wrongly against it, but if you are against something, you cannot respect it. If you say that you respect it, it would be hypocritical.
This article addresses the issue of why God would sanction, via the Old Testament Law, less than ideal practices such as slavery, polygamy, and excessively harsh punishments for certain crimes. I appeal to two concepts (the idea of a supererogatory good, and the idea of Molinism) to explain why God sanctioned these practices. I explain that God’s sanctioning these practices may have been necessary in order to create the world with the most possible good.
Partner preferences are expressed by many social species, including humans. They are commonly observed as selective contacts with an individual, more time spent together, and directed courtship behavior that leads to selective copulation. This review discusses the effect of conditioning on the development of heterosexual and homosexual partner preferences in rodents. Learned preferences may develop when a conditioned stimulus (CS) is associated in contingency with an unconditioned stimulus (UCS) that functions as a reinforcer. Consequently, an individual may display preference for (...) a partner that bears a CS. Some UCS may be more or less reinforcing, depending on when they are experienced, and may be different for males and females. For example, it could be that, only during periods of early development, that stimuli associated with nurture and juvenile play become conditioned. In adulthood, other stimuli such as sexual reward, cohabitation, mild stress, or even pharmacological manipulations may function as reinforcers to condition partner preferences. Evolutionary biologists and psychologists must take into consideration the idea that an individual’s experience with reward (i.e. sexual and pharmacological) can override presumably ‘innate’ mate choices (e.g. assortativeness and orientation) or mate strategies (e.g. monogamy or polygamy) by means of Pavlovian and operant contingencies. In fact, it is likely as innate to learn about the environment in ways that maximize reward and minimize aversive outcomes, making so-called ‘proximate’ causes (e.g. pleasure) ultimately more powerful predictors of social behavior and choice than so-called ‘ultimate’ causes (e.g. genetic or reproductive fitness). Keywords: pavlovian; operant; learning; sex; copulation (Published: 15 March 2012) Citation: Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology 2012, 2 : 17340 - DOI: 10.3402/snp.v2i0.17340. (shrink)
The word monogamy derives from the Greek words μóνoδ meaning one and γάμoδ meaning marriage. When Christianity was founded, polygamy (the marriage of a man to many women) was, at that point in Judaic history, regarded as acceptable practice. The Gospel according to Matthew reports that Christ restored marriage to its original unity and indissolubility (Matt. 19:6). Monogamy is still deeply entrenched in the Christian tradition. It has long been held that polygamy and polyandry undermine the dignity due (...) to man and woman as parties to the marriage contract. The command “What God has joined together let no man put asunder” (Mark 10:9) is still a central part of the marriage ceremony of many denominations notwithstanding widespread changes of attitude and practice. -/- . (shrink)
L’herméneutique coranique de Fazlur Rahman (1919-1988) repose sur la recherche méthodique du sens objectif du texte. Inspiré par l’herméneutique romantique, telle qu’on peut la trouver chez E. Betti et qui nécessite pour le lecteur d’établir un lien intérieur avec l’esprit de l’auteur, Rahman considère que c’est l’intention divine qui est garante de l’objectivité du sens du Coran. L’empathie avec l’auteur est rendue possible par une conception historique de la révélation, selon laquelle la parole, qui est amenée par un Esprit intérieur (...) et immatériel, passe par le filtre de la conscience prophétique. La méthode historiciste d’interprétation de Rahman, qu’il appelle herméneutique du « double mouvement », repose sur les deux critères d’objectivité que sont le contexte historique de la révélation et la prise en compte de la totalité du livre sacré. Ainsi, l’interprète doit, dans un premier temps, aller à la période de révélation pour, à partir des circonstances particulières, comprendre les finalités objectives du texte, identifiées à l’intention divine. Puis, il doit appliquer ces principes, qui sont moraux et non juridiques, au présent en s’éloignant du sens littéral. Rahman illustre son propos en essayant de montrer que le souci de l’intention divine permet de voir que le Coran s’oppose à la polygamie et à l’esclavage, qui vont contre le principe moral d’une société juste et égalitaire. (shrink)