The morality of adultery

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Andrew256, Apr 15, 2018.


Would you?

  1. Yes

    3 vote(s)
  2. No

    0 vote(s)
  1. Andrew256 Registered Senior Member

    Most of us would say that adultery is wrong.

    But, is it inherently bad, or do you think so because the society told you so?

    Let's imagine a scenario - you live in the alternative history timeline, in one of the progressive countries, where society has decided to acknowledge that relationships could be separated into two kinds:

    1. The "social" marriage, intended to:
    - Cooperate on everyday domestic challenges and household chores
    - Counter loneliness
    - Cooperate to bring up a baby together

    2. Sexual relationship, intended solely to satisfy sexual needs.

    Imagine if the society morally accepts and support by law this separation, so you can enter the marriage, and if you feel your sexual life started to fade out with years (something that happens with most married couples), both of you are free to find a sexual partner solely for the purpose of having sex and bring variety to your intimate lives, while still maintaining a friendly relationship with your actual spouse and responsibility for your children.

    Of course, this is optional, and you can insist on keeping the relationship the "classic" way (love until death) and resist any sexual advances from other people, but you cannot forbid your partner to use the privilege should he/she decide so. Also, I remind you that in our alternative timeline this is considered acceptable, normal, and is not frowned upon by society or your spouse in any way.

    This is sort of a social study, please don't argue the possibility of such scenario, just imagine it happened.

    So, if you lived in such a society, would you use this privilege? I'd appreciate if you vote honestly.

    P.S. I could just ask if you're polygamous or monogamous, but this is different.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
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  3. Andrew256 Registered Senior Member

    Oh, forgot to mention another condition. In this alternative timeline - all participants in this volunteered adultery are required to undergo STD examinations on a regular basis. Failing this requirement and transmitting any serious form of STD due to medical examination negligence will be considered a criminal offence. Just like driving a car - you are required by the law to take precautions. Same thing.

    This is just to remove the risk of getting STD from the morality of the question I'm asking.
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  5. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    Doing aside with this bizarre social enginnering feat of melding 60's free love with post industrial beuacracy (mandated sexual performance licenses?), its not clear why you designated the topic as the morality of adultery.

    Morality is dictated by the parameters of the society one identifies with. If you want to talk about what can be potentially achieved by replacing those identifying factors, then you could just as easily propose to discuss whether parking in disabled spots, theft, violence genocide, infanticide, rape, incest or plain old murder is immoral.
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  7. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Please can you expand on this notion, or at least clarify? Are you suggesting that a given society dictates morality upon its members? Or is what you're saying more that society allows for a morality between certain boundaries? Can you provide an example by way of clarification? What are you defining society to be in this matter?
    I think that I'm just having difficulty with the notion of a morality being dictated to a person. One can try to abdicate their morality to a society (and yes, I'm thinking of religions) but in such cases I have seen too much inner conflict within people to know that there is a difference between what one actually feels about an issue and what one is told to feel about it, morally speaking.

    If your clarification could tie in with the issue being raised in the OP, I guess that would be preferable from the thread's pov (rather than sidetracking too far). Cheers.
  8. Andrew256 Registered Senior Member

    Think of it as a thought experiment. Will people do it en masse if they are stripped of associated responsibilities and risks? If you're monogamous, do you really want to be monogamous or are you dictated this way by society and the "partnership" factor (the wish to save your emotional ties with the person even at the cost of satisfying your sexual needs). Can we take the best of both polygamous and monogamous worlds and combine it?

    Is adultery immoral if it involves only sexual relationship? Well, my answer is no. But I don't know how to better approach this topic.

    If there are a book where someone already explored those questions, I'd be grateful for the links
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
  9. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    i feel like i am reading the thoughts of a child.

    your use of the word "adultery" needs to be defined.
    subjecting a person you espouse to care deeply for and above all others to be forced to not enjoy themselves is somewhat psychotic. narcissistic to be precise.
    the very concept of being unable to emotionally share a person with another person is by rights the act of enslavement.

    do you wish to make the person of your desires a slave of yours and deny them free will ?
  10. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    It's an interesting consideration of progress.

    I live in a society where we just had a quarter-century revolution about who a person has sex with, and formalizing adultery with legal and societal ritual is just a curious priority. Organizing a society around open marriage would seem somewhat decadent, as if we're taking a moment to do something complicated and dangerous just because we're societally bored. It would be an example of what Roger Waters means by being amused to death.

    It just sounds like a really complicated scheme in hopes of making it easier to get laid. And those schemes never work.

    Adultery is immoral, by definition, because it represents violation of an agreement. It is also true that simply skipping out on such agreements has advantages and drawbacks. However, further reorganizing society around, and let's face it, this is a masculine issue, ease of sexual access, is one of the most ridiculous things humans could do at this point.

    Imagine, please that you propose this scheme, and people vote for it. The vote, like an abortion vote, will come down to men who want the outcome and the women who will do anything for them carrying the day, or else society will say no. Even still, if the manly men win, this is what happens next: Five years later, men will be complaining and trying to blame feminazis for the scheme because the women are all stepping out together and the men keep getting themselves arrested for rape, stalking, and other related violence, and end up paying child support, anyway,

    It's like an Android's Dungeon proposition, when Jeffrey Albertson suggested a pon farr ritual on the grounds that while most people would be getting laid less, once every seven years would, for some, be much, much more.

    In the end—

    —adultery is immoral because people say it's immoral. Changing that standard would seem simpler, since so many people violate it, anyway. However, the quest to establish a no-strings framework for sexual access while retaining pretenses of traditionalistic mores is one of the great and futile distractions of human society.
    RainbowSingularity likes this.
  11. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    If you study history you find a vast range of immoral behaviours that were deemed as moral in their heyday. By the same standard, a lot of behaviours that we currently deem as moral are likely to be subject to the same shifting perspective over time.

    I don't mean to suggest all morals are relative or that changes in the moral compass reflect a necessary progress. I am just pointing out that if the pillars of society are tampered with in the right manner, practically any sort of human behaviour can be given the green light.

    As it pertains to the op, it seems a strange question to ask : If you were brought up in a society where it was established that it was perfectly moral to act in a way that current society deems to be immoral, would you act in that way?

    On what grounds would I have a choice?

    For instance, prior to Hitler, practically everyone was a racist and it was entirely respectable ... if I was transferred back in time and purged of my post-hitler notions of racial equality, would I be a racist?

    It seems like a silly question to ask.

    As to the op, a more interesting question might be why polygamy is deemed as immoral (to the point of being illegal in most parts), yet infidelity or promiscuity is not.
    IOW if someone wants to accept legal and social responsibility for having a sexual relationship with someone else while still being legally and socially bound to another, that is so immoral as to be criminal. Yet if someone has sex on the side of a monogomous relationship or otherwise makes no attempt to be either socially or legally responsible for it, that is kind of okay (even for presidents, apparently).
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
  12. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 69 years old Valued Senior Member

    Morals in essence are other people saying how you should conduct your personal life - as distinct from society laws which relate to conduct within the society (with some minor overlap)

    Australia has recently voted to allow same sex marriage (how noble of us *sarcasm*)

    Now I understand some are wanting multiple wives / husband marriage to be legalised

    Personally I would like the government to get out of the bedroom and deal with more pressing social issues

    Sure arrangements for children and the rights of seperation (who gets what) can be codified - but did any married person go into marriage with a rule book in mind

    Hence the legal people got involved with pre-nups

    Get government and the church out of the bedroom

    Codify pre-nups for most general living arrangements

    If you want a living arrangement outside of something already on the books - OK but be prepared to defend it though the courts if it goes pear shaped

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  13. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    I'm not sure there is an essential dichotomy between society norms and individual desire. If a norm doesn't compromise individual stability, individuals tend to be happy to go along with it.

    Polygamy is associated with social and legal responsibility for one's sexual partners as opposed to an n+1 foray into endless teenageresque passion.

    I would say yes. The predominance of so many homeless middle aged people with missing teeth in this world suggests there are very real problems with the life motto "If it feels good, do it."

    Of all the things you could hope to choose to discuss, the sexual act probably comes in at number one as something that you cannot tag with "only". There is no such thing as "only sex" in this world.
    IOW to approach the topic, you have to approach a ton of identity issues, each of which give rise to a ton of political issues.

    A book about sexual attraction that doesn't touch on issues of politics or identity?
  14. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    more precisely if only adults could be a little more adult like about relationships ...
  15. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Thank you for the clarification, but do you think that just because society gives something the green light, does that mean it should be accepted by an individual as being morally okay? Or that we should find society's view that something is immoral as being how we have to find it? In that sense, does society really dictate our morality, or simply recommend / encourage a certain compass that is in line with others? Or maybe that is what you meant by dictate? Or am I splitting hairs?

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    Interestingly, I know some who deem polygamy moral and infidelity immoral. But you're right in that it would indeed have been a more interesting question.
  16. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    thinking around the cost of abandonment of pregnant women...
    interesting subject to look at anthrapologically.
    does culture & religion drive that from the back end ?
    e.g the religious dictatorship that demands gender & sexual orientation conformity demands that women must have a male owner... ?

    is there a moral equity to expect pregnant women to be given freedom by the state ?
    is denial of that freedom a form of slavery ?
  17. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Nature is not random. We might have a messy societal system that often seems more disorganized than otherwise, but in other circumstances the results appear even rockier. It is hard to properly measure quality of life in certain aspects, and the fact of a component within a larger successful system does not require the component itself to be optimal, proper, or functional, as long as it is not dysfunctional in particular ways.

    To wit, we have a lot of complaints, in these United States, about our pretense of a "justice" system that is inherently afraid of, and thus biased against, dark skin. There is much work to do. Still, it is better than we have seen in, say, the not so ancient history of rifleborne vendetta. And while it is, in theory, possible to put down enough corrupt law enforcers to usurp the power, history indicates quite clearly that vendetta is ouroboros; we have a notion of justice that is supposed to break free of that circle. That we fail to stop taking out our frustrations on people with darker skin is a testament to our own failures, not those of any proper justice.

    Similarly, marriage and nuclear family are not necessarily the end-all optimization of humanity. Ceaseless complaint meaans very much work to do. To the other, we might consider two practical, functional points: First, the system we have is not arbitrary; nature is not random. Even the idea of adopted and gathered family precedes the legal structures, written word, and even society itself. Indeed, we see it in nature; it precedes our very humanity, and is a fundamental component thereof.

    The idea of optimizing societal structure in terms of what family traditionally does—and Huxley's Brave New World can reasonably stand in here as a symbol of alternatives—can be construed to make a certain amount of sense in academic discourse, perhaps regaling the litany of benefits compared to our present savage brutality in lieu of true civilization, but in the question of achieving such outcomes we need to consider how it goes. Remember: A place for everything and everything in its place, is a fine saying, but human beings are not well known for working and playing together so well; even after achieving enough common cause to begin, we still must overcome the arbitrary resistance of those who hold out on the pretense that, well, someone must, or else it just ain't right: "Oh, no, I don't oppose you," one might say, "it's just that it's not right if there isn't any dissent; I'm merely being the responsible person in the room."

    Even setting that faction aside—(and, remember, taking them out back and leaving them to rot in the ditch is no proper justice)—if everyone hopped onboard in sincerity we would need approximately three generations of transition before we could start gathering a particular range of data that represents echo effects reverberating after achieving a threshold by which the transformation can be reasonably called complete. That is, three generations, we could start documenting the nightmares of dying remembrance.

    In that context, we Americans are how many generations after Emancipation, and have not yet reached our intended threshold; we still document the nightmares of dying and remembrance of the dead. Equal Protection and Justice proper are still just abstract phrases describing thresholds we pretend to wish to achieve.

    It's not an encouraging prospect.

    Even still, it seems we are considering something entirely different than, if such a classification exists, ordinary discussions of radically and deliberately altering societal propagation strategies among a species. This appears to be entirely about hoping to make it easier for a heterosexual man to get laid.

    The species isn't culling its egg supply in order to accommodate the proposition, so ...

    ... er ... ah ... I mean, I'm gay, so, y'know, fine, whatever, we kind of already have that and ... I mean ... perhaps I'm looking at this wrong: I presume there is some manner of formalization, here, because otherwise I'm back to every day reality, including phrases like, "lesbian bed death" either is or isn't a phenomenon unlike anyone else in a secure relationship deciding they are bored enough in bed to step out. In any case, I cannot speak specifically to the practical considerations about lesbian promiscuity; STI numbers are what they are, and women generally do not, at this point in history, need reminding of practical implications. But in my gay male world, stepping out of a safe relationship is dangerous; twenty years ago, in my area, one in four of my gay cohort were HIV positive. We're in the middle of another opioid wave; it's terrifying. Depending on where we're looking ... I mean, if our choices are half of identifying gay black men being positive—suggesting pockets of wasteland where it's up over three-quarters, owing to various factors including the downlow—or a truly grotesque sampling and methodological collapse, the uncertainty is existential in either case. And we just saw epidemic show its head in a small Indiana county.

    To the one, the topic proposition seems to be suggesting a variation on every day, and the question of formalization arises therefrom. To the other, in either case, practical considerations abound.

    We need not argue the possibility of such a scenario; it is easy enough to consider that the proposition lacks certain practical considerations that are well-known in the range of ideas intended to hopefully make it easier for heterosexual men to get laid.

    Which brings us 'round: Here, have a coupon, for 20% off copay at Triple V Discount Vasectomat, where Doctors Vikram, Victor, and Vasily will make quick business so you can give her better business. They have a higher satisfaction rate than either Super Snips or SportVas, and the drive-thru window will be open after Memorial Day weekend.

    Because as it seems the proposition separates sexual gratification and reproduction, well, isn't the point to keep those two parts separate?

    At which point Oil Can Henry's will stop doing lube jobs transition away from auto services in order to compete with the Jar Jerks, and Pep Boys will match by throwing in a free solar-powered refrigerator.

    You know, because we're not going to cull the egg supply for this. Sperm cells are easy to come by, so why not put a few in the freezer in case one decides they've made a mistake, or maybe needs new kids because the last ones died in a fire he wasn't around to save them from because he was busy chasing tail at the bar.

    It is correct to say, "if the pillars of society are tampered with in the right manner, practically any sort of human behaviour can be given the green light", as long as we observe a definition of "right" meaning, approximately, "conducive". It is an important context.

    But two important aspects about the inquiry are the comparative of being wrong "because society told you so", and hopes to avoid arguing "the possibility of such scenario". We can skip past the possibility by simply suspending disbelief and attempting to account for the circumstances by which it becomes possible. If society tells us so, society is still human, and will not be perfectly consistent or accurate in its expressions. Even ancient superstition had its germ of truth; the question is whether what we do with that is logical or not. The way around that question is to deliberately destroy the species; generally speaking, though, the guiding impulses determining our evolutionary result tend toward perpetuity, security, and advancement of species; it is within our recognition and capability to forestall certain practical challenges. In the context of tampering with pillars of society in a conducive manner, appeals to masculine sexuality are easy enough.

    Then again, I could also be wrong in focusing so much on the masculine perspective; I just never hear this from women. And there is a big difference 'twixt the proposition of lesbian bed death and why heterosexual women step out. Or maybe not; women can tell us all about it, true, but, really, they seem virtually invisible in the topic proposition.
  18. Andrew256 Registered Senior Member

    Adultery - voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not their spouse (c) Google.

    I'm sorry, I didn't get your train of thoughts, and where did you read about enslavement and not being able to enjoy one another?

    This has nothing to do with masculinity. Women must have the same rights, ease of sexual access, and most importantly - the feeling of safety. Violence is never tolerated.

    I'm talking about changing the perspective of sex. Those who want to see it as a means to form more deep bonds - free to do so.
    Those who want to see it as a medical procedure, or as a spare time hobby - free to do so. It's all about freedom of choice.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
  19. Andrew256 Registered Senior Member

    Thanks for the lengthy post. I understand what you're saying, but you're bringing up the risks and issues related to our current social state. Why I'm asking the initial question is to see how many would consider themselves to be strictly monogamous if they are freed from most of the risks and obligations.

    Heterosexual man, Heterosexual woman. Homosexual man, woman. Healthy, sick, young, old, rich, poor - this is about everyone. I'm not getting why you think this is only about man. This is about transforming how we view sex.

    I have to disagree. How we view sex is subjective, and I can certainly imagine seeing it as only sex. Another question - if I decide to see some sexual intercourse this way, is it making me immoral (or childish) in your opinion?
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
  20. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    Despite all the colourful moral interpretations of sex within societies, you never see it expressed sans politics and identity. The sexual act is so high on the agenda of all living entities (not just humans) that even your attempt to discuss it sans politics and identity is perceived by many as a front for attempting to open the gates for a certain type of men's ambition for an impossibly hospitable universe (ie, a front for a type of identity/politics agenda). In otherwords gearing society with a government endorsed and mandated " universal bail out" sexual policy begs the question which sorts of people stand to benefit from having a n+1 sex life with no strings attached.

    If a society was to run your program, aside from probably being shott-lived, it would certainly be revamping many things on the politics and identity front. The very language of something being deemed moral or immoral is written in the form of politics and identity.

    If you want to talk of discussing subjective im/moral imperatives bereft of issues of politics and identity, you are introducing a notion of subjectivity that is, at the very least, alien to our experience.

    This is why I say a core issue with your op is not sex, but a type of absurdity that renders the very approach to morality as a topic unapproachable.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
  21. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Adultery is not inherently wrong. Lying about it is.
  22. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Multiple partners is not wrong.

    Adultery is the labeling of the act as wrong because it breaks the social contract we implicitly agree to as members of our society. i.e the lying.
  23. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    you should have put that in your thread header so all the adults would have not bothered waiting for your definition.

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