The Instigator
asyetundefined
Pro (for)
Losing
24 Points
The Contender
alto2osu
Con (against)
Winning
48 Points

ETHICS of Polygamy

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 12 votes the winner is...
alto2osu
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/9/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 10,895 times Debate No: 7758
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (47)
Votes (12)

 

asyetundefined

Pro

I attempted to have this debate a little while back - but due to initial confusion the argument didn't really get off the ground... anyhow.

I intend to defend the view that Polygamy, being the right to marry multiple, consenting, age-appropriate partners of whatever gender should be ETHICALLY acceptable. This means CON will argue against the ethical-viability of Polygamy.

Unfortunately in modern society, polygamy is generally an exclusive right of males and is practiced primarily in third-world or Islamic nations. This anecdotal information regarding polygamy should be understood as being inconsequential towards the true ethical acceptance or non-acceptance of it.
PROPER polygamy, as I intend to promote, is as follows:
-The Right to marry any number of consenting, age-appropriate persons of any gender.

Furthermore, since this is an ethical concern regarding legal status, social-acceptability plays little role; that is, social-xenophobia towards polygamy is NOT a factor.
thus, since as said this is a primarily ETHICAL question (which has legal implications), and my 'original-position' (viability of polygamy) is stated as being ethically neutral, the burden of proof against polygamy lies with CON. So let CON's contentions be raised!!!
alto2osu

Con

First of all, the limitations presented by the affirmation on the term "ethics" deteriorate negative ground to the point of being abusive (in that arguments are restricted to those that, technically, don't exist).

Consider ethics: they are systems of behaviors determined right or wrong. How are those systems built? How is right and wrong decided? For now, unless the affirmation would like to challenge this, I assert that ethics are built by societal temperament, whether that be a majority religious doctrine or some other environmental stimulus. Society's acceptance of given behaviors as right or wrong is at the heart of this debate. However, I will strive not to present the usual argument to this effect. I do wish, however, to make it clear that society and its collective wishes are at the heart of this debate.

Not only that, but in a legitimate state, society's wishes and moral code are what translate directly into law. Even in illegitimate states, religious beliefs and ideologies, as well as the ideologies of dictators or tyrants, are at the core of law. So, to say that an ethical or legal issue has no relationship to society or at least powerful individuals is also false. The laws that govern a state are formed from something—we don't just decide that murder is bad one day for no reason. Something is responsible for that thought, whether it be divination or our need to survive as a species. But, the bottom line is that it started with people affirming those laws, with societies affirming those laws.

Now, consider polygamy and its lack of popularity around the globe. We can break it down, for ease, by some major religions. Hinduism is neutral textually, but has few if any polygamists. Judaism & Christianity forbid it. Islam is highly diverse: some sects practice polygamy while many others forbid it. Even the few societies which allow polygamy don't have many takers. Considering the majority temperament of societies to polygamy and the religious ethics systems described above, it can be easily concluded that polygamy is not ethically favored. Those who do practice polygamy can simply be compared to any instance of committing an unethical act. Murder is still committed, but we don't use that as grounds to further the practice of murder as an ethical act.

Second of all, the definition of "polygamy" is highly flawed. Funnily enough, the affirmation attempts to side step a historically catastrophic and implacable human construct by simply defining polygamy as "the right to marry any number of consenting, age-appropriate persons of any gender." As if this definition can side step the long and extremely oppressive patriarchy that has snaked its way into every nook and cranny of almost every culture on the planet.

Part of any valid debate is the introduction of the empirical world. While philosophy is a valid and wonderful way to exercise the mind and posit about the world we live in and the world we could have, it means nothing without the consideration of its application. At the end of the day, we cannot deny some of history's strongest trends. Male dominance of females is one that is ever-present, and in most animal species. It is, I claim, unavoidable, as is evidenced clearly. I don't have enough space in 4,000 characters to document its sordid past.

To say that polygamy will be able to escape its dominant form is an impossible promise to keep. It would require the upheaval of nearly every society in the world, save the less than half a dozen that practice polyandry (which generally consists of a few nomadic Tibetans). By saying that polygamy is ethical and attempting to characterize it as something that can ever be anything but male-centric is to deny reality. And, since polygamy can never escape its role in the patriarchy, it becomes unethical as it oppresses millions of women around the world who don't choose the polygamist lifestyle, but whose husbands are enabled by labeling it as "ethical."
Debate Round No. 1
asyetundefined

Pro

Thank you for entering the debate!

It seems to me that a great number of you are confused about a simple little term: ethic. Thus clarification is needed.
Ethics are 'oughts' derived from various sources: you ought not to do (X) because (Y,) or you ought to do (X) because (Y). The term 'ethics' is more all-encompassing and pervasive than the term morality, which is generally used only in reference to more 'transcendental' rights and wrongs. ie: Nietzsche was definitely "immoral" (he even called himself so) but he was not unethical. The problem most of you seem to be having is about your (Y)'s; since for an ethics to be valid you need a authentic (Y).
-Social acceptability is not an authentic (Y) - if it were, the Holocaust would have been ethically sane since German society felt it was acceptable. This is not to say that society is unimportant in deciding ethics - after all ethical decisions often impact society in majors ways (think abortion or something of the sort).
-The legality of an act is not an acceptable (Y) because law is not infallible, nor an authority over rights and wrongs. I can break the law but I might have done the Right thing. Yes law often comes about via ethical concerns - the reason murder is wrong is because it is ethically nonviable, not because capitol hill decided it so!

Thus, if my clarification goes through it seems as though we can proceed unto Polygamy!
--------------------------------------------

CON's argument seems to be focused around one point: "Polygamy" as we know it, has too much historical baggage to ever be rectified in modern times:
"To say that polygamy will be able to escape its dominant form is an impossible promise to keep. It would require the upheaval of nearly every society in the world".
I concede the point that Polygamy does indeed harbor a long history of misogyny (hatred or abuse of women); however it seems highly unfair to claim that since it was one way in the past, it will always be that way and will never progress. Consider 'voting': from the republics of ancient Greece, to the revolutions in France and America and the eventual Democratization of much of the globe - Women could NOT vote, EVER. Voting was used as a tool to continue the marginalization of Women. However in the late 19th century and early 20th, suffragettes and suffragists eventually forced a change in most democratic nations that allowed for women to vote. From that point on voting was no longer able to abuse and keep women down. The historical records still know of voting's shady past - but it itself has been able to be modified as to become viable in our modern world. Furthermore, if we were to hold true to CON's doctrine that things cannot change - we would also need to concede that jail is pointless since no one will ever be reformed. change is constant, betterment can and does occur; it is absurd to say that Polygamy could not be brought into modern times as a viable and acceptable practice.
Thus is should be understood that since there is no reason NOT to accept Polygamy; that is, no authentic 'noughts' stand against it - Polygamy is something we ought to be able to practice.
alto2osu

Con

Good morning, affirmation :)

1. Your clarification directly contradicts your comments on this very debate, in which you state:
"Ethics and Morality are essential[ly] the same thing: derived ‘oughts.'"
So, all of the sudden, morality and ethics are vastly different? One can be immoral but not unethical? The shifting advocacy limits our ability to properly debate.

Secondly, your analysis on why social acceptability is not a "y," as it were, is significantly flawed. Addressing the Nazi example, most Germans, even those who associated themselves with the Nazi party, were not even indirectly responsible for the Holocaust. They believed in the general political ideology espoused by Nazi political elites because Germany was in ruins after their devastating loss during World War I (see the Treaty of Versailles). Germans were desperate for leadership and some sort of positive change on an individual level. A vast majority of Germans were not party to or even fully aware of the German government's actions against Jews. That is not even close to an example of widespread societal acceptance.

Funnily enough, the unethicality of polygamy does represent widespread acceptance, mostly because of current religious doctrine held at least in part, usually in full, of all major religions. The only major religion that is truly and unadulteratedly neutral on the subject is Hinduism, but the practice of polygamy by that religion's practitioners, as cited in round 1, is marginal at best. The consent is extremely vast in comparison to the Holocaust.
Also, note the difference between genocide and polygamy. One is clearly different in consequence than the other. That is not to say that polygamy is ethical because it isn't killing anyone, at least in noticeable amounts. It is, however, proof that the ethicality of this action is far more determined by societies than any sort of "natural right" or "natural law" that the affirmation might assert exists. This act doesn't necessarily violate the right to life. But, it has been deemed a point of debate for societies as to its ethicality. Society has decided per my above discussion that this act is unethical enough to write negative state-based and religious-based statutes, even to change the dogma of their own religion to reflect an ethical disapproval of the act.

2. The affirmation's entire stance is tied only to a first-world country perspective. Of course, in the United States, polygamy is much more likely to be the product of consent. However, considering that historians support polygamy to be a creation specifically designed to serve the needs of men and male offspring, history seems to be on my side. Even in the United States, women who escape forced polygamist marriages as part of religious cults write entire autobiographies about how psychologically and physically damaging their "relationships" with their husbands were.
Now, consider countries that have changed their views on women's' rights minutely over the last several hundred years. More fundamental societies are highly unlikely to all of the sudden change their entire ideology about polygamy. The United States is, empirically, the freest country in the world. Imagine what forced polygamy is in a nation where accused adulteresses (not tried fairly in an impartial court of law) are taken out to soccer fields and shot. Can you then say that polygamy, upon our assertion that it's ethical, will become a harmonious, loving, consent-based relationship?

The fact of the matter is, most of the countries that regularly practice polygamy are exactly those which you describe in your round 1 arguments: third world and some Islamic nations. Because of the governmental systems they exist in and their current economic and social instabilities, they are highly unlikely to be able to process positive social change in the ways you describe. The US can at a much more rapid rate, but that rate is incomparable, even in other 1st world nations.
Debate Round No. 2
asyetundefined

Pro

asyetundefined forfeited this round.
alto2osu

Con

As my opponent has forfeited the last round, one may freely assume that polygamy, in a world view, is unethical because it is an action that is considered morally non-viable by a vast majority of the world, and because it is a tool used by the patriarchy to enslave women, even those fortunate enough to live in a first world nation.

I thank the affirmation for the debate as a whole, and hope to debate you again in the future!
Debate Round No. 3
47 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by asyetundefined 8 years ago
asyetundefined
I give my kudos to SEDY in his points as well - only he comes across rather harshly....
Posted by asyetundefined 8 years ago
asyetundefined
PERVRAT - you have provided some excellent points I wish I myself had advanced more thoroughly! Although ALTO2OSU got to claim victory in this battle, PERVRAT you are like cholera and desertion dealing a mortal blow
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
I support its legal and ethical position in certain circumstances, such as those described by you :) I have a hard time reconciling what polygamy should be with what polygamy has been and will still be within some parts of society. I also wouldn't approve of its ethicality in nations that have yet to recognize the sovereign rights of women. If that makes sense :)
Posted by PervRat 8 years ago
PervRat
Third world countries like the United States?

We've had a number of women-abusive polygamist cults.

I would like to have legal recognition for the multiple-partner relationships I've been in, so in that sense I am a polygamist. Its hard to say that though, knowing what some nuts have done. To me, its the same as those pedophilic priests furthering the taint of Christianity for me.

Its not so much enlightenment, I fear, as a lack for a jealousy or possessive gene that most other males seem to have. ANd ... oh, so you actually do support polygamy?
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
And, with all respect, you seem to be a particularly enlightened person living in a first world country :) The relationship has a completely secular role for you. That cannot be said for a vast majority of polygamist/polyandrous relationships.

I do want to remind you that I was arguing against my actual beliefs. Consider this as an intellectual challenge for me. It was the first debate I ever accepted at this website.
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
I'm not claiming that all polygamist males will abuse females. I argue nothing universal. However, you said yourself that religious cults have tainted the practice. Specifically, these are the same cults operating in 3rd world countries, where women's rights are not at all secure. I argue that we can't call an action ethical that has the very real potential to lead to the further abuse of women. Even in 1st world countries, this is a problem (as I pointed out in the debate).

Don't see this as a personal attack on your decision-making. I have nothing against your practices. I also think that being polyamorous should be distinguished from being polygamist. Polygamy is specifically involving marriage, which inherently ties it to religion, since marriage began as a religious rite.
Posted by PervRat 8 years ago
PervRat
Its also ridiculous. Women are abused in monogamous-heterosexual or monogomous-lesbian relationships as well. I have several friends who are polyamorous. Abusive religious sects have tainted the image of polygamy by the notion of women being property subservient to the man they had no choice but to marry, even when the "women" were a mere 13 or 14.

I am personally a bisexual comfortable in open, polyamorous or monogamous relationships. None bother me, I have never felt a twinge of possessive jealousy over a lover. I am therefore polyamorous and were there legal recognition of the relationships I've been in, I would be a polygamist as well. My lovers were all equals and had no duties toward me, no subservience, only a promise to keep themselves "clean and safe."

Because I've been a polyamorist (and in all regards but legal) polygamist, are you claiming, alto2osu, that I have been abusive toward the women? How is polygamy itself, in all its forms, abusive toward women? Or is it just some cultish religious crap that taints people's ideas about polyamorists/polygamists?
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
I guess I find the difference to be that minority sexualities aren't even as universally rejected as much as polygamy. I'm certainly, by no means, claiming that alternative sexualities haven't been mistreated within society, btw. I don't want to make light of an ongoing struggle. I also was adopting a viewpoint different than my own, which would account for some of the argumentative decisions I'd made in the round :)

However, even if you chuck my arguments about societal acceptance, the bigger terminal impacts come out of the abuse of women arguments. It is also the more warranted argument.
Posted by PervRat 8 years ago
PervRat
Being a sexual minority, I have very ugly first-hand experience to know the difference between democratic popularity and civil right. Economic might makes no more right than military might, either, so that too would be a meaningless argument to me in terms of ethics.

The basic notion of whether or not something is ethical is whether it infringes on the equal rights of another. That's the basis for my entire ethical code, in fact. It applies to murder -- one does not have the right to deprive another's right to live. It applies to civil right -- one does not deserve superior privelege nor right over another because the other is different than the "norm" (racial, religious or sexual minority). Likewise and so on.
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
Sedy, I strongly disagree, but you may vote as you wish. What are ethics but those morally based rules and standards which people agree upon? I wasn't giving anecdotes. I was giving logical arguments about undeniably solid and high majority rejection of the practice of polygamy. Not only that, but arguing that a majority of moral/ethical structures denounce the practice wasn't my only argument: I'd say that the inevitable abuse of millions of human beings around the world outweighs the issue of societal acceptance. While I agree with Roy that an economical/cost-benefit analysis argument would have been an excellent advocacy for me, I still don't think that my arguments were properly addressed by the affirmation within the debate.

Either way, I appreciate you taking the time to read the debate!
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