The Instigator
M-Y
Con (against)
Winning
7 Points
The Contender
levi_smiles
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

Is marriage (only) about the union of two loving people ?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/30/2017 Category: Society
Updated: 2 months ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 536 times Debate No: 104225
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (8)
Votes (1)

 

M-Y

Con

This interrogation came to me when the issue of same-sex marriage was brought up a few years ago. I would often hear the argument "if two people love each other, why can't they get married ?". This argument proceeds, in my opinion, from a liberal conception of society. But based upon this logic, if love is all that matters when it comes to marriage, can I marry my sister if I claim to be in love with her ? Can I be married to 5 people if I say that I love them ? Can I marry a pencil as well ?

Love is subjective and erratic, if laws are voted on the basis of what people feel, isn't there a risk of chaos ? Moreover, we live, in the Western World, in egalitarian societies, or at the very least in societies that aspire to be egalitarian. If today marriage is defined as the union of two individuals that love each other, why can't tomorrow the people who want to marry an object demand their legitimate right to get married ? You cannot argue that they do not love that object, you don't know that, and they can very well claim that they do and demand to marry said object. Simply because you cannot authorize same-sex marriage on the basis that love is all that is required for marriage whilst invalidating their demand. The same issue arises if people demand to be able to marry themselves and dozens of other scenarios can be imagined.

Words are used to convey concepts, they allow us to associate and oppose ideas, they distinguish realities. Any word who is broadened as much as the word "marriage" can potentially be loses its meaning. And this could be done in the desperate effort to bully the word "marriage" into encompassing increasingly absurd situations. Marriage is at danger of losing its meaning. Some people might think I'm being paranoid or over dramatic, but I believe the danger is very real, as the word "gender" has already lost its meaning.

Families are to societies what molecules are to matter. Marriages have sustained societies (even civilizations) for centuries as they are how you start a family. If marriage dies, I think the consequences can be catastrophic ...

(English is not my first language, I apologize if I made any mistakes)
levi_smiles

Pro

Thanks, Con-

Con"s interrogation amounts to a public policy debate: Shall governments deny the institution of marriage and the benefits derived thereof to citizens who seek to marry on the basis of love?

Con"s essential argument is that the emotion of love is subjective and irrational and so unfit to serve as a qualification for public franchise.

Let"s note that Con has not offered a single objective criteria on which the state might better rely. This is a problem. How can we toss out a fairly traditional and time-honored framework without offering a substitute that can be shown to better suit the needs of the people.

I think Con is correct that the modern conception of marriage has been influenced by more liberal, egalitarian trends extant in societies since the Enlightenment. That the institutions of the state should reflect the people's will is fit and proper and the people clearly prefer autonomy in matters of sex, procreation, and co-habitation. The majority considers the reasons for and means of marriage to be mostly or exclusively private and immune to state demands.

Traditionally, the state"s interest in marriage was compelled by the enforcement of heritable ranks, titles, privileges, and property. These interests are all now defunct or made redundant by civic functions untethered to legal marriage. Nevertheless, states have continued to assert their authority, claiming the improved stability and prosperity of married persons as an institutional advantage that ought to preserved and encouraged by benefits exclusive to that franchise (Con would seem to agree).

Also traditionally, the state relied on religious authority to legitimize pairings and imbue those matches with an extralegal, hypertransactional status. But states are now mostly divested of religious sanctification and must legitimize marriage on the basis of law constrained by secular, constitutional, and egalitarian concerns.

To this add Feminism, which has mostly eliminated the single-approver, subject/object dynamic of traditional marriage. Love was not a necessary condition for marriage, only the man"s desire to be married and respect those vows in accordance with local custom. Now marriage requires dual consent and the coercions of youth, poverty, and status have far less influence on that consent than once was true.

Given that the compulsions, authorities, and actors of marriage have changed significantly over the past two centuries, states are left 3 potential responses:

Withdraw authority to recognize and legitimize marriage. (Not likely, states seldom voluntarily surrender any authority without compulsion.)
Legitimize marriage without qualification. (Not likely, unregulated institutions attract abuse.)
Legitimize marriage with some qualifications, minimized by constitutional constraints. (The way all states do today.).

Therefore, if the state proposes to deny the franchise, the burden of proof is on the state to show a compelling state interest and real harm to the people, a burden that now rests on Con"s position. Can Con demonstrate that love-based marriages are objectively less successful than non-love-based marriages? Can Con show an active harm present in loving families that can't be found in loveless families? If not, the state is not compelled.

So far, Con has projected 3 prospective harmful outcomes for the application of love as an acceptable criteria for marriage:

Incest: the state does have a compelling interest in disease prevention and procreation by close relatives is an established vector for unhealthy babies. If siblings are demonstrably non-fertile (i.e. too old, same-sex, infertile) the state"s interest is mostly based on cultural taboo and a less compelling case for harm is present.
Polygamy: although polygamy is often correlated to some legitimate criminal acts,(spouse abuse, child abuse) polygamy of itself does not seem to present any compelling harm. A case might even be made for superior adult participation in collective child-rearing.
Human/object relationships (which I will expand to any human/non-human relationship): Adult, sane, conscious humanity has always been a precondition for consent. Marriage is by definition an act of formal consent (do you? I do.). The state has a compelling interest in preventing non-consensual contracts in most non-emergency contexts.

So, of the 3 prospective harms offered by Con, one is entirely unlikely and two seem conditionally unharmful.

If Con is to make this case, we need to see a genuine, compelling case for states to prohibit loving families and a useful framework on which the institution of marriage might be predicated going forward.

I look forward to Con"s arguments in the second round.
Debate Round No. 1
M-Y

Con

Thank you very much Pro !

"Let's note that Con has not offered a single objective criteria on which the state might better rely." You are 100% correct, I didn't want to give any objective criteria because I wanted to seem provocative. I was afraid that no one would find the topic interesting, I thought someone who disagrees with me would jump at the chance to point out that deficiency. I'm really glad you thought the topic worth debating !

Marriage has had historically two roles:

1. Acknowledging the paternity of the father. In the world we live in now it is easy, thanks to paternity tests, to know who is the father of a child. But before the necessary technological advances were made, it was impossible to know for sure. Hence the double obsession with female virginity before marriage and female faithfulness. If a woman is a virgin when married and exclusively has intercourse with her husband, then the child(ren) born can only be the husband's child(ren).

2. Marriage was also the way alliances were contracted and it settled inheritance affairs (as you pointed out).

Whether there was love or not was insignificant from a social and political standpoint.
Let's analyse it historically (I'm only going to talk about civilizations that practiced monogamy, as many of them were polygamous) :

Let's begin with Ancient History. Marriage existed in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. In Ancient Rome, male infidelity (whether with a man or a woman), as long as the man did not engage in sexual activities with a married woman, wasn't condemned. Female infidelity on the other hand, was punishable by death (the husband had to prove that her wife was cheating). Divorce was fairly easy and it was not frowned upon. Demosthenes, a Greek orator, said "We keep hetaerae [mistresses] for the sake of pleasure, females slaves for our daily care and wives to give us legitimate children and to be the guardians of our households." There is no mention of love in marriage in Ancient History. Its purpose was, as I previously stated, to acknowledge the paternity of the father.

In the Middle Ages, Christianity imposed the monogamous heterosexual marriage as the only acceptable form of conjugal union. It is interesting to point out that both male and female infidelities were (and still are) a sin. The Christian civilization went even further : it invented our concept of love. The definition of what love is is essential, in my humble opinion, in this debate. Before going any further, I am going to define the concepts of desire, passion and fondness, as I will need them to detail my opinion. Desire expresses one's need or impulse for reproduction. Passion is defined as a strong amorous feeling or a strong sexual desire. Fondness is an affection that builds over time. There is a nuance between desire and passion. Passion comes from the increased levels of dopamine, noradrenaline and oxytocin, and since the body does not sustain such levels indefinitely, it is an inevitably ephemeral feeling. Desire doesn't vary much over time, it is the attraction felt for individuals judged to be attractive. I really want to put the emphasis on 2 characteristics that differentiate passion and desire. On one hand the fact that passion is ephemeral and exclusive. On the other hand that desire doesn't change much over time (as an adult) and can be felt for a potentially infinite amount of people at once.

Now that I have defined the concepts I needed, I will continue to explain the evolution of marriage and love. In the 12th century in France, many men were off at war (Crusades). The fact that men and women were apart was at the origin of the creation of chivalric romance (Le Roman Courtois in French) in which this fantasized concept of love originated. An ideal in which love encompasses a sort of eternal passion (often a sexless passion) and fondness. This concept of love perfectly fit the Christian mindset since it drowned desire in passion (as passion can be felt for only one person) preventing adulterous relationship, and by extension, out of wedlock children. It is the ideal that most people still pursue nowadays. Meeting THE right person (monogamy) , falling desperately in love (the feeling would be passion) and growing old together (fondness) while maintaining "the flame alive in the relationship" (eternal passion). However, the 12th century is when the first occurrence of love is found in literature but it hasn't yet lead to love marriages.

Actually, love marriages begun to be more frequent than other type of marriages (typically arranged marriages) by the end of the 19th century-beginning of the 20th. Love marriages are about 120 years old and their concept of love is inherited from Christian civilization.

Which means that claiming that love marriages are "a fairly traditional and time-honored framework" is (historically) false.
What marriage has been for centuries, and in my opinion should continue being, is the institution that symbolizes and protects filiation. As I have previously stated, families are the cells of the organism that is society and marriage is the institution that guarantees the cohesion of families. A protective membrane, if you will, ensuring protection of the elements in the cell. Whether the marriage are love marriages or not is unimportant from a social viewpoint.

"[...] the people clearly prefer autonomy in matters of sex, procreation, and co-habitation." I don't see why marriage is needed to live under the same roof or to have sex. You can have any kind of relationship with whomever you want. However, if you want to have children, that is when, in my opinion, one should get married.

"Love was not a necessary condition for marriage, only the man"s desire to be married and respect those vows in accordance with local custom."
That's not untrue but very inaccurate if I may say, in Ancient Rome for example, everybody had to get married. It was not legally mandatory, but a special tax was to be paid if one remained single. Arranged marriages were very common throughout the Middle Ages in which the families agreed to marry their respective son and daughter without much consideration for the groom's or bride's opinion. But it is true that men had far more influence on marriages. For example, in Ancient Greece, one had to seek the permission of the father to marry a woman, and the marriage could not be done if he had not giving his consent for the union. There are numerous examples of similar situations in history, but history is not as clear-cut as you seem to present it.

"To this add Feminism, which has mostly eliminated the single-approver, subject/object dynamic of traditional marriage. [...]Now marriage requires dual consent and the coercions of youth, poverty, and status have far less influence on that consent than once was true. "
I agree 100% with the fact that feminism changed marriage. It is more than obvious that the institution of marriage was representative of the times then, times that were marked by a patriarchal society, phallocratic regimes, and misogynistic values. Thankfully, there has been a clear improvement of the situation over the last decades.

" Can Con demonstrate that love-based marriages are objectively less successful than non-love-based marriages?"

If one googles "divorce rates over time" it is easy to find charts showing that the divorce rates have increased. It is important to make note of the fact that nowadays not all couples get married, and so couples that have broken up are not divorced, which has an impact in the numbers. It is best in my opinion to look for data up until the 1990s. There are also articles : https://www.theguardian.com... . I think this is due to the fact that we have an erroneous idea of what marriage is, that it is about finding the right person, trying to fulfill what I think is a deluded fantasy of eternal passion. Marriage should be, in my opinion, an institution ensuring the stability needed to raise children.
Furthermore, arranged marriages have been shown to be more happy than love marriages in an Indian study : https://www.youtube.com... (go directly to 26:50 , although the whole video is very interesting)

"Can Con show an active harm present in loving families that can't be found in loveless families? If not, the state is not compelled. "

Many studies have shown that the best environment to raise a child is a stable environment. If love marriages are about the pursuit of love, then the stability of the marriage is compromised since one can decide to get divorced if they feel they are not with the right person. Of course, I am NOT saying divorce should be illegal or frowned upon, I just think people nowadays resort to it very lightly. If you are not sure you are with the right person, don't have a child, and if you do, wait until he is mature and independent enough the get divorced. The increase in divorce rates drives me to think that love marriages are unstable and by extension harmful for children born from those marriages. Moreover : " [...] that can't be found in loveless families" obviously, I don't think families should be loveless, I think love is not the only criteria or the most important one in a marriage (thus explaining the "(only)" in the title of the debate), which is not quite the same thing.
To make it clear: I am not against love in a marriage, I defend the opinion that marriage is not about love.

There have been debates in Germany regarding the legalization of incestuous marriages. The argument is that justifying the prohibition of sexual relations asserting genetic risks proceeds from an eugenicist ideology.

The concept of consent in regards to an object is invalid in my opinion because an object is by definition non sentient. Human/non-human marriages are not a projection, but a nascent reality : http://www.telegraph.co.uk...
levi_smiles

Pro

Thanks, Con-

We"ve established that Con thinks that the franchise of marriage ought to be denied to couples motivated by the emotion of love. Con has clarified that he does not object to love as a development of marriage, just as a cause for marriage.

I've asked for an objective criteria for marriage which might substitute for the subjective criteria of love and received one- specifically arranged marriage.

Traditionally, arranged marriages were initiated and blessed by the families of the betrothed, or more accurately the patriarchs of the family would come to a satisfactory business arrangement within certain norms of class and social hierarchy.

But as I noted in R1, the institutions that made such arrangements possible, even desirable in older contexts have been made archaic or redundant by modern social development. Legal contracts have replaced social contracts as a more reliable, enforceable means of dealing deals. State benefits have replaced church blessing as a public endorsement of union. Feminism has radically shifted the dynamics of authority and consent, even the roles and functions of marriage.

For most people in modern Western Civilization, the anthropological underpinnings, the cultures and communities that allowed arranged marriages to succeed no longer exist.

Take enforcement for example. How would the state test and confirm that a marriage was arranged and not subject to the happenstance of love? Would the state require assent of all the parents? In the old days, the consent of two patriarchs was probably sufficient to ensure compliance based on the overwhelming authority of patriarchs in most families. But today, a mother"s authority in the family is at least equal to a father"s under law, which means more people have veto power and far fewer agreements are likely. The state would need to legislate and define exactly who has the power to consent or deny. Traditionally, the couple themselves had little power to deny consent but today forced marriages are considered a human rights abuse prohibited by the United Nations" Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery. [1]

Arranged marriages served as the foundation of financial or political alliances because they were difficult to dissolve because usually such dissolutions had to be approved by religious authority. But now, divorce is common and relatively autonomous. Either member of a couple can effect a divorce, mostly without having to show cause and with reasonable expectation of an equitable division of assets.

Most people today who still consent to arranged marriages still live in cultures where divorce is rare and divorcees are stigmatized. But introducing arranged marriages without a prevalent social pressure to stay married would make divorce more likely than love matches. At least, in a love marriage each member must recognize their own agency in forming a union while in arranged marriage, divorce must be seen as an easy solution to an arrangement never asked for.

Besides, the complexity of modernity has made such an old-fashioned idea virtually unsustainable. The median age at marriage has risen considerably and most people have figured out where they want to live, their jobs, their education before they decide on marriage, making them considerably more autonomous from their birth families than was true before. Social mobility, too, is now virtually independent of marital status. Arranged marriages tend to reinforce racial and social stratification in societies that are trying to dissolve those barriers to increased egalitarianism.

I think arranged marriage is a mostly unworkable framework in the context of modern society, likely to be rejected by the more urbane, autonomous couples of our times and an an entirely unappealing headache for lawmakers. I wonder if Con has any other options in mind.

Returning to the question of the harms of love marriages, Con has added increased divorce, or more specifically, the instability of families for the purpose of child-rearing as a principle harm. Let"s agree that broken marriages are less optimal than sustained marriages for the children of marriages.
Con has not gone so far as the propose that the franchise of marriage ought to be reserved for the purpose of child-rearing but suggests that is the proper context for marriage. However, I think Con overstates the case for the impulsive nature of love-based marriages as a principle cause for increased divorce rates. Nor would I expect a shift towards arranged marriages in a modern context to demonstrate a marked improvement over live marriages assuming that no-fault laws and lessened social stigma remain the same. The long-term compatibility and sustainability of any couple is an unknowable and complex blend of circumstance and dedication, perhaps not necessarily improved by the blush of passion but certainly not diminished.

There"s no doubt that prohibitions against incest proceed from all manner of common cultural traditions having nothing to do with the genetic disorders of inbreeding. Eugenics may be one of those origins. But states do have a certain mandate in the inhibition of preventable disease and some sensible restriction on inbreeding hardly amounts to genetic purification.

I"ll continue to maintain that human/non-human marriage is not likely to be recognized by governments. I"m not sure what Con means by "The concept of consent in regards to an object is invalid in my opinion because an object is by definition non sentient." Marriage is an act of consent. That which cannot consent cannot be married. The article Con cites does not serve as evidence of increased state recognition of human/non-human marriage since the article clearly states that the State of California did not recognize the marriage. I don't think the estimated 40 desperately lonely women worldwide with OS disorder are likely to compel the state to modify legislation to enfranchise their fringe compulsions.

[1] http://www.ohchr.org...
Debate Round No. 2
M-Y

Con

Thank you very much Pro !

"I've asked for an objective criteria for marriage which might substitute for the subjective criteria of love and received one- specifically arranged marriage."
I am afraid I failed to make myself clear. I am not advocating for arranged marriages to become the only framework for marital unions. Just as you rightly pointed out, it wouldn't be possible to implement it and nor do I want it implemented. I brought it up in response to your request of giving an example of a "type" of non-love based marriage that would have been shown to be more successful than love marriages. And if they have been shown to be more successful, I think it is because they haven't been built on the basis that love is what marriage is about.

"The long-term compatibility and sustainability of any couple is an unknowable and complex blend of circumstance and dedication, perhaps not necessarily improved by the blush of passion but certainly not diminished." Well precisely, it is diminished. As it is said in the video that refers to the Indian study, the happiness in love marriage decreases over time and the happiness of an arranged marriage increases over time and they cross at year 3. Between 1 and 3 years is the time needed for passion to fade away ( https://www.goodtherapy.org... ). What keeps a marriage together after passion dwindles is fondness (compatibility matters as well). However, in my opinion, it takes times for fondness to grow in a couple, and there are critical years in which passion has already died out and when fondness isn't yet strong enough to tie a couple together. Typically, marriages tend to end at year 7 or 8. Usually by then, the married couple has already had a child or children. If one believes that one is married to give their best to raise their child(ren) with their spouse, it might actually help in those moments in which passion fades and when passion is not yet holding the couple together. If one believes he is married to be in a state of perpetual passion, then why stay ?

I think our misunderstanding comes from the fact that you have been assessing my arguments from a strictly pragmatic point of view. You have looked in R2 for any clearly defined framework and picked up the only one I explicitly named, arranged marriages. And this makes complete sense, as it is easier to invalidate any proposal I would make since it couldn't be implemented. Simply because nowadays' doxa pleads that marriage is (or should be) only the union of two loving people. Any other proposition could not be implemented (unless imposed, but that is out of the question).

I however do not look at this issue from a strictly pragmatic point of view but also from a historical and sociological point of view. That is why I have not given much importance to how the State can implement a workable system that would meet the criteria I consider to be most adequate. This is more of an ideological issue than a practical one.

"However, I think Con overstates the case for the impulsive nature of love-based marriages as a principle cause for increased divorce rates." As I have established in R2, love marriages are young. They proceed from a liberal conception of society. When love marriages started to be more and more common, divorce was still frowned upon. However, as time went by, society became more and more liberal, and the blend of love marriages and a liberal conception of society produced what I think to be destructive effect on the institution of marriage. Any individual right is given at the expense of the cohesion of the group. Marriage is a union upon which families are built. The dominant liberal conception of society advocates for rights and freedoms of the individual, and this can only be at the expense of collectivities. Married couples and families are collectivities.
The data matches. On one hand society became more and more liberal over time, and love marriage became dominant in the 20th century, on the other hand divorce rates have increased.

"There"s no doubt that prohibitions against incest proceed from all manner of common cultural traditions having nothing to do with the genetic disorders of inbreeding. Eugenics may be one of those origins. But states do have a certain mandate in the inhibition of preventable disease and some sensible restriction on inbreeding hardly amounts to genetic purification."
With all due respect, that argument is invalid as the public opinion was against homosexual marriage 10 years ago. And the taboo of homosexuality and incest are historically (in Christian societies) comparable. Public opinion can be influenced and can shift over time. Especially in an egalitarian liberal society if one states that it is a fight for freedom and equality. And as for the State, we can argue as I said in R2 that justifying the prohibition of sexual relations asserting genetic risks proceeds from an eugenicist ideology. Or that criminal law's purpose is not to preserve a social taboo.

I have repeatedly stated that marriage is (historically) the institution that symbolizes and protects filiation. In this definition, marriage is naturally reserved for a union in which there are at least a man and a woman. Moreover, I think we should restrict marriage to monogamous marriages. I say monogamous, because I am afraid polygamous marriages would offer an unstable environment for the potential child(ren), but I'll admit I have no data to support this claim, it is just my opinion. I think the bigger the number of parental figures, the harder it is for them to maintain a coherence in the way the child(ren) is/are raised. The more complex the union, the more risk there is of something malfunctioning and thus potentially affecting the child(ren).

To make matters clear once again, I think marriage is not about the people who are married, it is about their children. If they happen to be in love, great. But that is not, to me, the criteria on which the institution of marriage lies. In a society where the dominant conception is liberal and egalitarian and in which love marriages are the most common form of conjugal union, it is impossible for me to propose a framework that can be democratically adopted as I assume most people disagree with my conception of marriage.

I'm not trying to work out what can be realistically implemented, but what should marriage be and why. I claim that a society that prioritizes satisfying immediate individual (or individualistic) demands rather than giving a stable environment to their children and thus preparing them for the future, is doomed. As I've already said, individual rights and freedoms are always given at the expense of collectivities. A functioning society is an organised one. An organised society is a society where everybody obeys the same rules. The more rules, the more standardized, the more effective, but also the more inhuman. The more freedoms you give, the more creative, the more diverse, the more human, but also the closer to chaos.
levi_smiles

Pro

Thx, MY.

A family emergency is getting in the way of composing a reply. I'll let Con continue his argument & pick up rebuttals in next round.
Debate Round No. 3
M-Y

Con

I sincerely hope that whatever happened caused more fear than harm and that everything is now better. I tried to give you as much time as I could before having to reply to make sure you would have time to deal with the issue whilst hoping you wouldn't need it.
I will not continue my arguments as I feel it would be unfair for me to have more room to express myself.
levi_smiles

Pro

Thanks, MY. My father has been in the hospital all week and continues to be quite ill. I've got a couple of hours tonight for reply & I hope I'll get a chance to complete R5. I'll certainly do my best not to leave you in forfeit/hang.

CON: I am not advocating for arranged marriages to become the only framework for marital unions.
PRO: So you don't think marrying for love ought to be permissible and you don't think arranged marriages could be successfully implemented in a modern context....I can't help but wonder how Con envisions marriage in a world where love matches are forbidden. What, Con, does marriage look like in a society that was yours to command?

CON: As it is said in the video that refers to the Indian study, the happiness in love marriage decreases over time and the happiness of an arranged marriage increases over time and they cross at year 3.
PRO: I have not been able to open that youtube link, I suspect the link is partial. You might wish to place full text of link in comments section for reference. But I'm skeptical about Con's claim. Dr. Jefferson Fish points out that because love matches are viewed as immoral in India, happiness data may be skewed by social stigma rather than the relative worth of the matchmaking method. [1] Divorce likewise carries significant social stigma and many women in India don't enjoy the liberty to criticize their marriages to the same degree as Western counterparts. [2] The fact is that we simply don't have the kind of in-depth social research of arranged marriages to make such judgements with confidence. I suspect that if we could study love marriages vs. arranged marriages in a Western societal context, controlling for racial and economic differences, we'd find reported happiness in either kind of marriage to be in parity or perhaps even favoring the lovers (in spite of passion's fading).
I assume that most parents wishing to participate in their children's choice of mate assume that their child is heterosexual and is satisfied by conventional sexual/household arrangements. But we know there are many folks who are disinterested or dissatisfied in the conventional arrangements of their parents. If a gay couple is denied marriage by love and refused marriage by arrangement, are gay people to be excluded from the public franchise of marriage?

CON: If one believes he is married to be in a state of perpetual passion, then why stay ?
PRO: I don't believe that most lovers who marry are deluded about the sustainability of passion. We know that not every good lover is a good potential mate. Most people seek a blend of passion of appropriately marriageable qualities. (Take for example, "14 Differences Between the Girl you Date and the Woman you Marry") [3]

CON: I think our misunderstanding comes from the fact that you have been assessing my arguments from a strictly pragmatic point of view.
PRO: True

CON: That is why I have not given much importance to how the State can implement a workable system that would meet the criteria I consider to be most adequate. This is more of an ideological issue than a practical one.
PRO: At least in the secular realms of Western democracies, the franchise of marriage has become the business of the state: upheld by the state, rewarded by the state, dissolved by the state. And the story of democratic law-making is inherently pragmatic, since the value of any law must be justified to the majority. So yeah, I am mostly interested in a pragmatic application of marriage law that demonstrates an advantage over the present law. So far, I can't see any advantage to scrapping love match marriages.
Seeking a new ideal for marriage makes sense but simply rejected the present condition is not the same thing as positively declaring the best solution making families

CON:As I have established in R2, love marriages are young. They proceed from a liberal conception of society. When love marriages started to be more and more common, divorce was still frowned upon. However, as time went by, society became more and more liberal, and the blend of love marriages and a liberal conception of society produced what I think to be destructive effect on the institution of marriage. Any individual right is given at the expense of the cohesion of the group. Marriage is a union upon which families are built. The dominant liberal conception of society advocates for rights and freedoms of the individual, and this can only be at the expense of collectivities. Married couples and families are collectivities. The data matches. On one hand society became more and more liberal over time, and love marriage became dominant in the 20th century, on the other hand divorce rates have increased.
PRO: I think its a bit of an oversimplification. Certainly, people have been falling in love since before the advent of religion and marriage and I suspect that many people were motivated to find a way to make romantic love fit into the cultural traditions of their time & place. Ultimately, however, I grant that the rise in divorce results from a less restrictive, more free evolution of society. I think Con has mistaken the ultimate cause of his complaint: feminism, not love marriage, is the liberation that weakens his conception of traditional marriages and nuclear families. Passion is not new, romance is not new, but feminism is relatively new. Here, I think, is where are perspectives are most clearly divergent: I value these liberties above the institution of marriage.

Look, the reason arranged marriage persists in India is not because Indians are less inclined to passion than Westerners, it is because women are less free. According to United Nations, women in India have little or no physical security in their homes or in public. [4] India has relatively low rates of reported domestic violence but from the persistence of public acts of honor killing & dowry abuse we must assume that the incidence of domestic violence is actually quite high. Although the prevalence of forced marriage has been improving in the 21st century, UNICEF estimates that 46.4% of married women were married before reaching the age of consent. As the safety and civil rights of Indian women improve, divorce rates will almost certainly rise and women respond to violent or involuntary couplings.
In order to bring women into the full franchise of civil rights, it has become apparent that the definition of marriage must change. An increased divorce rate may be a part of that re-definition or it may be that state-sanctioned marriage plays less & less of a role in the creation of families & the raising of families. I understand that Con only sees this as a net harm but I see it as a necessary price of increased Liberty.

CON:...as I said in R2 that justifying the prohibition of sexual relations asserting genetic risks proceeds from an eugenicist ideology.
PRO: I"m not agreeing or disagreeing- I just see that justifications for incest are fairly tangential to our discussion. Incest presents very little potential for harm.

CON:In this definition, marriage is naturally reserved for a union in which there are at least a man and a woman.
PRO: I think this bolsters my point about feminism vs love as the true culprit for Con. Same-sex couples can marry for non-loving reasons just like heterosexuals- gay couples have been shown to be as effective as straight at raising healthy children and early data suggests that gay couples are less prone to divorce than straight. Still, Con excludes them from the franchise, which suggests that child-rearing & preventing divorce may not be the only priorities at hand.

CON: Moreover, I think we should restrict marriage to monogamous marriages. I say monogamous, because I am afraid polygamous marriages would offer an unstable environment for the potential child(ren), but I'll admit I have no data to support this claim, it is just my opinion.
PRO: Again, polygamous marriages allow for increased child-care and improved divorce rates. If unstable families are the chief concern, polygamy does not seem to add to that concern

CON:In a society where the dominant conception is liberal and egalitarian and in which love marriages are the most common form of conjugal union, it is impossible for me to propose a framework that can be democratically adopted as I assume most people disagree with my conception of marriage.
PRO: I think Con is right & is essentially conceding my arguments here. There is no going back, we need a new way forward.

[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com...
[2] http://www.nytimes.com...
[3] http://www.lifehack.org...
[4] http://www.womanstats.org...
Debate Round No. 4
M-Y

Con

I hope it's nothing serious and wish your father a speedy recovery !
Thank you for taking the time to answer. I happen to have a very busy week and I'm afraid I won't have time to follow up with each point as I would have wanted to. I will answer whatever I can answer here and continue my argumentation in the comments.

"So you don't think marrying for love ought to be permissible and you don't think arranged marriages could be successfully implemented in a modern context....I can't help but wonder how Con envisions marriage in a world where love matches are forbidden. What, Con, does marriage look like in a society that was yours to command?"

It's a very interesting question. I think Western societies have become incredibly individualistic. I get the feeling that an alarming amount of people suffer from "Low frustration tolerance". We cannot stand to be put into boxes, categories, that we feel don't fit us. Let me detail my opinion :

There's a paradox, called the Sorites Paradox, that we inherited from the Greek philosopher Eubulides. I will now cite wikipedia to explain said paradox :
"The paradox goes as follows: consider a heap of sand from which grains are individually removed.
One might construct the argument, using premises, as follows:

- 1000000 grains of sand is a heap of sand (Premise 1)
- A heap of sand minus one grain is still a heap. (Premise 2)

Repeated applications of Premise 2 (each time starting with one fewer grain) eventually forces one to accept the conclusion that a heap may be composed of just one grain of sand :
1000000 grains is a heap.
If 1000000 grains is a heap then 999999 grains is a heap.
So 999999 grains is a heap. If 999999 grains is a heap then 999998 grains is a heap.
So 999998 grains is a heap. If ... ... So 1 grain is a heap."

This highlights the fact that words are semantically "blurry". In our everyday use of words, we are most of the time imprecise. Since most of the time we are not confronted with situations that command us to be precise, we can get by with what we have. However, when we have to be precise, problems arise. When does a heap stop being a heap ? Unless we agree on an arbitrarily figure, there is no consensus. And if it is arbitrary there is no reason why it couldn't be otherwise. And the reality is, all definitions are arbitrary. Personally, I am a nominalist. In high school, I remember studying in biology the fact that the word "species" has changed its definition many times over centuries and even nowadays there are different definitions of the word. The teacher then said that this is completely normal, as the concept species has been created by us to help us categorize living beings, but it is a concept that does not reflect objective reality as the living realm is continuous, it is not the discrete sum of clearly identifiable parts. However, we needed those categories to help us understand living beings because without any structure or framework on which to lean on, biology couldn't exist as a science. That was an epiphany for me. I realized that it was the same thing for everything else. And for the same reasons for which we need concepts arbitrarily defined in biology, we need arbitrarily defined concepts on which to rely on in societies.
(I will continue in the comments)
levi_smiles

Pro

Thanks M-Y, for your kind words regarding my father and for a very interesting conversation on the subject of marriage. I"m not sure we ever got down to the kind of succinct definition & separation of opinion that makes for an easily judged debate but divide & conquer need not be all these debates have to offer.

I"ve offered that this is a public policy debate regarding whether governments have a public interest in restricting marriage based only on love but Con is less interested in the question of public policy, favoring the dilemma of preserving traditional social cohesion (mostly on a voluntary basis from what I infer).

Con is correct that if arranged marriages were outlawed in India today, the practice would continue underground in defiance of law. I agree. But consider the reverse- if marriage for love alone was outlawed in the West (and that is essentially what Con proposes), how much more fervent and passionate the defiance of freedom-loving citizens would be in defense of love.

I think Con comes closest to defining the division between our perspectives in the final round. Con is primarily concerned with what he calls the "deconstructed" identities of modern Western society, which he considers destructive to traditional social patterns and for which he blames mostly French intellectuals. Well, okay"..First off, that"s probably giving the French too much credit although their influence on modern identity is undeniable. More importantly, what Con call deconstructed identity I would term liberated and independent. People today are more free to define their own identities rather than adhering their lives & prosperity to pre-ordained roles imposed by tradition and hierarchy. I agree with Con that the results can be chaotic and destructive to traditional social constructs (including traditional families, our primary concern here).

But as Pablo Picasso said, "Every act of creation is first an act of destruction." Where Con sees only the destruction, I see the evolution of mankind. The freedom to self-define social constructs results in experimentation and diversification, expanding the range and capacity of our collective pursuit of happiness. Are some of these experiments silly or impractical? Of course they are, but the process of adaptation and self-improvement is just what makes modern life more interesting, compelling, and I"d argue humanity more sustainable ultimately.

Con says we can"t just redefine social constructs like marriage or gender without warping conventional social structures. Well, I"m unimpressed by the social structures that subjugated the female majority to the male minority, that forced people with non-majority sexual identities to pretend at playing straight, that forced children to have sex and bear children of their own without the opportunity to discover the desires of their independent heart. I do not regret the weakening of such conventions.

Con is right to worry about the effects of divorce on children. I share Con"s concern but I"d point out that modern families have much better rates of childhood survival, more inclusive education, lower rates of physical and sexual abuse. Con may see these as separate causes but I decidedly do not- call it feminism or nihilism or liberalism as you wish but the improved collective happiness of a freer citizenry has resulted in the improved collective prosperity of the last few generations of children. If divorce is a sad side-effect of a general improvement for children overall- than it is a risk we should allow while working to ameliorate.

Consider also that the present liberalization is sufficiently inclusive to allow Con to pursue marriage as he sees fit. We can and do see arranged marriages often enough in the Western world. So long as all the parties involved consent and are content, I see such arrangements as a perfectly valid and constructive addition to the our new age of experimentation and redefinition. Con"s traditional constructs are not violated in the specific, however much they may prove unappealing to the majority.

I think marrying for love is a delightfully free and human act, a leap of trust and faith that the fires of passion can forge a deeper and more satisfying bond of intimacy and parentage than the handcuffs of rational or commercial application. Perhaps we fools for love are fools indeed. Perhaps our quest for increased happiness does result in failure more often than those who never try to achieve such heights. But together, our trying for happiness has improved the human enterprise and by expansion and adaptation of our definitions of marriage we may hope to continue to improve that happiness as we struggle to survive the future together as one species.

Thanks again to Con for a fine topic & conversation. I look forward to debating again in future.
Debate Round No. 5
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by M-Y 3 months ago
M-Y
I would of course like to thank you for a very pleasant and interesting debate. I of course am well aware that I am not always pleasant to read and would like to apologize for it. It is harder than I thought it would be to debate this topic in English. I hope you enjoyed this debate as much as I did.
If you do not have the time or the opportunity to answer, you can message me and I can give you an e-mail address if you're interested in continuing the debate.
Most importantly, I hope your father makes a full recovery !
Posted by M-Y 3 months ago
M-Y
To me, there are only 3 sexual orientations, heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality. Gender roles vary depending on cultures (but not as much as one might think), but they always constrain individuals into having to adopt certain behaviors. All of these topics have been analysed by the thinkers I mentioned, obviously, in a way more structured and intelligible fashion (expect for Jacques Derrida who is unreadable to me). Definitions have to be restrictive, if not, how can a word carry its meaning ? We understand by opposing and associating concepts.
And to me, it's exactly the same issue regarding marriage. If what we understand by the word depends on "love" which is a subjective emotion, the word marriage can potentially become anything people would want it to be. However, procreation is not subjective, it's an objective scientific reality, which reinforces marriage a social structure and gives better cohesion to society as a whole which ultimately makes society a better functioning one.
Posted by M-Y 3 months ago
M-Y
What we call gender* roles have changed, and what we mean by the word gender has changed. But where does this come from ?
You think feminism is what "liberalized" marriage. I disagree. I think that these changes come from a French intellectual movement called "the French theory" in the US. Very influential (and brilliant) thinkers like Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Simone De Beauvoir (who is to feminism what Marx is to communism), Pierre Bourdieu, Claude Levi-Strauss, ... who had and immense influence in the changes we see today. Granted that feminism is part of it, but it certainly isn't responsible for all of it. These thinkers have deconstructed the notions of power, sexuality, nation, family, sanity, society, ...
This is in the continuity of what I consider to be nihilistic/destructive movements. It fist began with the Dada movement. Later on the Theatre of the Absurd, the Nouveau Roman, ... All of these cultural movements have amounted to where we are at right now, in a world in which we cannot stand being put into box and categories because we don't fit in them. But they never fit, just like the word species does not fit the objective reality. Of course, being put into a category is painful, because it forces one to repress part of his or her own individuality. However, if we want to have a functioning society we cannot be all inclusive. We cannot define a potentially infinite amount of sexual orientation (or genders, I will admit to you that the word gender is very confusing to me, at first I thought it meant either a male or a female, but from I read it clearly isn't just that and I feel it's close to what I understand as being a sexual orientation coupled with gender role). To me, there are only 3 sexual orientations, heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality.
Posted by M-Y 3 months ago
M-Y
And for the same reasons for which we need concepts arbitrarily defined in biology, we need arbitrarily defined concepts on which to rely on in societies. As I have explained in R4, an organised society is a well-functioning society. And the organisation of society depends greatly on how you define social frameworks. What are genders or sexual orientations ? What is marriage ?

" At least in the secular realms of Western democracies, the franchise of marriage has become the business of the state: upheld by the state, rewarded by the state, dissolved by the state. And the story of democratic law-making is inherently pragmatic, since the value of any law must be justified to the majority. So yeah, I am mostly interested in a pragmatic application of marriage law that demonstrates an advantage over the present law. So far, I can't see any advantage to scrapping love match marriages.
Seeking a new ideal for marriage makes sense but simply rejected the present condition is not the same thing as positively declaring the best solution making families"

I see your point, but you seem to dismiss the fact that laws do not determine social conduct. Moral values/beliefs, traditions and culture do. If today we implement a law that renders arranged marriages illegal in India (just for the sake of argument) do you honestly think arranged marriages will just stop ? At best most people will ignore the law and at worst the government will face a social uprising.
That is why I do not care as much as you do about being pragmatic.

That is why the definition of social frameworks is to me essential. Marriage is one of them and of the most important ones. As we have both already said, in the Western World we live in liberal egalitarian societies in which love marriages are a reality, globalization is a reality. What we call genre roles have changed, and what we mean by the word gender has changed. But where does this come from ?
(next comment)
Posted by M-Y 3 months ago
M-Y
I see what you mean, but if you extend that logic, we wouldn't be able to use any object in any activity because in the same way that you cannot force anyone to perform any activity, we wouldn't be able to use objects without their consent either. However that is not how things are because we do not treat objects and sentient beings in the same way because they are different.
Posted by Arganger 3 months ago
Arganger
Forced marriage is still illegal and strongly protected, so though an object isn't sentient and cannot give consent, I still doubt it could get married unless it gave consent,
Posted by M-Y 3 months ago
M-Y
The concept of consent in regards to an object is invalid in my opinion because an object is by definition non sentient.
Posted by Arganger 3 months ago
Arganger
To be fair, I don't think an object can agree to get married.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by BryanMullinsNOCHRISTMAS2 1 month ago
BryanMullinsNOCHRISTMAS2
M-Ylevi_smilesTied
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Con by default!