The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

The Parable of the Long Spoons is an Advocacy for Polyamory and Polygamy

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/14/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,524 times Debate No: 52345
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (7)
Votes (1)




This is a short debate that is impossible to accept in order to screen out people who forfeit or will troll. If you would like to accept this debate, either PM me or leave a comment in the comments section, thank you.


The Parable of the Long Spoons is typically cited as a compelling vision of what constitutes heaven and hell. The idea is that heaven and hell are both very similar in that there is a banquet table with more than enough food to feed everyone, but people cannot feed themselves for whatever reason (depends upon the culture, the title attributes the reason to long spoons that people cannot use to feed themselves). In heaven, people overcome their own limitations by helping each other, and thus everyone is fed. In hell, people only focus on their own self-interest and so there is suffering and anguish amidst a bountiful feast.

Obviously this parable is not just about food, and has far ranging implications on moral action. I will argue that taken to its logical conclusion, a philosophy stemming from this parable will condone unrestricted polyamory and polygamy - in fact, to remain consistent with the vision of the parable, the philosophy would actually advocate for public, mass orgies as opposed to private sexual encounters, which according to this philosophy would be the epitome of sinful action. I will attempt to paint such a picture in a morally compelling fashion; this morality will not be restricted to any religious creed.

My main goal in this debate is to demonstrate the inherent contradictions in coming up with an absolute moral creed of any sort as is typical of any institutionalized religion. Polyamory and especially polygamy is typically considered a capital sin/crime in many religions and societies throughout history, and IMHO to any extent that those societies accept and advocate for the core message of this parable, those societies suffer from errors in judgment and moral consistency.


The Parable of the Long Spoons is an Advocacy for Polyamory and Polygamy

Note that this debate is not about affirming whether or not the parable describes a valid moral vision. This debate is only about exploring the implications of this vision, in this specific case, the implications on sexual relations...regardless of the parable's validity.

I would imagine that those that are convinced of my argumentation would have to think twice about the message of this parable and whether or not it actually describes a compelling moral code. Those that conclude that the moral vision inherent in this parable is invalid would consider this debate to be an instance of exposing an reductio ad absurdum in the parable's message. Those that find that the moral vision is valid would instead conclude that unrestricted romantic and sexual relations is the preferred and moral form of sexual expression, thus rendering monogamy to be "sinful".


By accepting this debate, you agree to the following definitions:

Parable of the Long Spoons - as described on this website: (

Advocacy - the act or process of...supporting a cause or proposal (

Polyamory - the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time (

Polygamy - marriage in which a spouse of either sex may have more than one mate at the same time (


As usual, this is a NO SCORING debate - non-scored RFDs and any form of feedback are most welcome. The only exception is in the matter of conduct, for which along with standard conduct issues (forfeiture, personal attacks, no trolling, etc), breaking the below rules (to include not proffering a case) would merit conduct against the offender.

Burden of proof (BoP) is on PRO.

5 rounds
1st round: acceptance
2/3/4 rounds argument and rebuttal
5th round: closing arguments, rebuttals are ok, but no new sources.

5,000 character rounds.


Thank you to Pro for this interesting debate. I look forward to reading his arguments.
Debate Round No. 1


I thank rross for accepting this and can rest assured that this will be an interesting debate. =)


My argument is actually quite simple. I will deconstruct the metaphor to isolate the symbolic elements in the parable, and show how the elements of the metaphor can easily apply to polyamory and polygamy. By doing so, I meet burden of proof.

1) "People". Yes, people must be gathered in a group around the "table". There's no real symbology here. People are people.
2) "Heaven and Hell". Simple enough, "heaven" is "good" and "hell" is "evil".
3) "Spoons". This is the first symbolic representation of the parable. The spoons represent limitations placed upon humanity that prevent a person from realizing their own self-interests. For the issue of polyamory, it would be the social stigma against narcissism, and for polygamy, it would be the fact that we are simply not asexual beings.
4) "Table with food". This is the second symbolic representation of the parable. How the people interact with this "table" determines whether or not we are in heaven or hell. In heaven, people can fully interact with the table despite their limitations, whereas in hell, people cannot. For polyamory, the table would represent romantic relationships, the idea being that the more we engage in interpersonal romantic relationships, the more we interact with the table. For polygamy, the table would represent sex, the idea being that the more we engage in interpersonal sexual relationships, the more we interact with the table.

That's the bare-bones deconstruction of the parable relevant to polyamory and polygamy. Next I will show how both sex and romantic relationships are "good", and upon doing so I will meet burden of proof.

Good and Evil

Perhaps you have some reservations about whether or not romantic relationships and sex should be seen as the "table with food". Fair enough, we can explore such a concept.

1) For sex, there's obviously the matter of procreation, which unlike the carnal and hedonistic aspects of sex is generally much easier to reach a conclusion of sex being a moral positive. If you consider procreation to be a positive, then "sex is good".

If sex is good, then indeed sex is the "table with food". The parable would then preclude masturbation and other forms of asexuality, and would instead advocate for as much interpersonal sex as possible in order to achieve maximal satiation amongst all the people sitting at the table. Thus, according to this conception, mass orgies with the goal of having as many offspring with as many mates as possible would be "heaven".

Are there advantages to this? Sure. More mates means more people that can get involved in taking care of children. More children means more chances that your genetic legacy will carry on. More openness about sexuality and the benefits of cooperative child-rearing would justify ritualistic orgies to affirm the interpersonal nature of sex and child-rearing. If everyone does this, then everyone wins. Masturbation and even monogamy would not be seen as moral solutions under such justifications.

Is this realistic? Of course not. With too many people, we run into the problem of scarcity, and IMHO this is the main problem with this parable. It assumes the table is plentiful, and that scarcity is not an issue. We can't just think that we can procreate without limitation. Regardless of whether or not the parable is realistic, it's undeniable that this lack of scarcity is the parable's main message (as the table is plentiful), and that moral action predicates that we assume that scarcity does not exist.

2) I included polyamory along with polygamy because I wanted to stress that sex has consequences, and that the best way to deal with the consequences (procreation) is to have relationships that facilitate sharing the responsibilities inherent in child-rearing. In this sense, the logic for why "polygamy is good/evil" is the same logic that would apply for why "polyamory is good/evil".


In the end, IMHO the weak link of this parable is the necessary condition that "the table is plentiful". In reality, it simply isn't. We do not reside in heaven, and it's not just a matter of willing it to be so.

If the table were plentiful, then we should procreate as much as we possibly can with as many people as possible, build intimate relationships with as many people as possible that would facilitate child-rearing, and thus not only secure our genetic legacy going forward, but also perpetuate humanity ad infinitum. Such is the message of the parable, and by demonstrating a clear parallel with the "table of plenty" and polygamy/polyamory, I meet burden for this debate, regardless of the impracticality of the parable's main message.


Pro has argued that sex is good because it leads to procreation, and therefore the more sexual partners the better. There are several flaws with this analysis:

More sexual partners does not lead to more procreation.

Imagine that there are 20 fertile women at Pro's imaginary table. The procreative potential of the group could not exceed 20 births that year (not including twins and triplets). Whether each of these women sleeps with one man or the entire table of men, her procreative potential cannot be extended.

Therefore, there is no correlation between number of sexual partners (assuming at least one) and number of offspring.

More sexual partners does not lead to more help with child-rearing

Pro has argued that the more men a woman sleeps with before becoming pregnant, the more help she will have with the child-rearing. Of course, the opposite is true. When a woman and a man are in a committed, exclusive relationship, supported by society, then the man may devote himself to child-rearing. When paternity is uncertain, or if the man is not committed to the mother of his children, then he often does not contribute much to child-rearing.

For instance, 83% of custodial single parents are mothers (1), and there's over 100 billion dollars of child support that remains unpaid in the US (2).

More is not necessarily better

The people in the parable were able to eat when they helped each other. The parable does not say that they kept eating until they vomited. Given the general tone of the story, one might conclude that they ate a healthy sufficiency and then stopped.

Similarly, with bearing children, more is not necessarily better. Giving birth too often can be dangerous for a woman's health and for her children. (3) Also, if a mother is already the sole provider for her children, then getting pregnant could have devastating economic consequences for her family.

the parable

The parable is about taking care of others.

Research shows us that close relationships with their fathers has a large positive effect on children's development and well-being. Not only that, but a good relationship between their mother and father is one of the best predictors of positive outcomes for children. (4)

If the parable is about good procreation, then surely the well-being and development of the child should be among the first concerns of society.

Debate Round No. 2


I thank CON for a succinct argument that centers around the statement: "If the parable is about good procreation, then surely the well-being and development of the child should be among the first concerns of society."

I fully agree. Apparently the point of contention for this debate will center around "the well-being and development of the child".

I will demonstrate how in many, many cases, unrestricted polyamory and polygamy will indeed lead to "better" child-rearing.


R1) CON asserts that 20 females can only produce 20 offspring in any given year. Very true, I do not dispute this. However, US women currently give birth to only 1.86 children throughout their lifetime (, which is far below the replacement rate of 2.1 necessary to sustain the population. This means that women could give birth to far more children to far more mates throughout their lifetimes.

R2) CON also states that there is a limit to how many mates a woman can have offspring with, and that such a limit precludes a woman's ability to have offspring with all the men at the table...let's say this limit is 10 kids with 10 different mates - this accounts for the "optimal interval"of 3-5 years between each childbirth that CON brings up in her source #3.

This is fully in line with the parable...there is also a limit as to how much food any one person can eat before they become "full". Thus, such an approach by CON is not valid to disprove the veracity of this parable when applied to polyamory and polygamy.

R3) CON believes that "Pro has argued that the more men a woman sleeps with before becoming pregnant, the more help she will have with the child-rearing," but PRO has made no such assertion. My comments have been gender neutral; I speak of unrestricted polyamory and polygamy. So, even assuming that CON is correct in that the man "often does not contribute much to child-rearing," more mates and more intimate relations may result in more women helping each other with their offspring, regardless of what men may do.

This is a very reasonable approach. Imagine cooking pancakes for a family of four or a family of forty. It does not involve much more time or still need to prepare the batter, warm the grill, mind the stove, and flip the pancakes. Let's say it takes 20 minutes to prepare pancakes for 4 may take maybe two or three times longer to cook for 40, but that would be a net savings of over 140 minutes, had there been 10 different spouses cooking 10 different meals for 10 different families of long as those 40 people all don't mind eating pancakes on a given day. =)

This argument would also address one simple fact - 2 parents are better than one, regardless of gender ( Well, if 2 parents are better, why not 3, 4, or 20? Imagine if a kid had 20 parents. Would the kid have to suffer because "mommy or daddy" didn't have time to take little Johnny or Suzie to school? No...because the kid would have 20 "mommies and daddies" and maybe, just maybe, one of them has enough time to take the poor kid to school so s/he wouldn't have to be bulled by Marvin the Monster on the bus.

So, you can have the situation where a woman mates and has children with 10 different men. Another woman also mates with 10 different men, resulting in the two women sharing commonalities in that 8 of those men are the same men for the two women. That gives both women a pool of 8 different men for possible care-giving, and even if all of them turn out to be deadbeats, the two women still have good reason to help each other with at least 8 of their respective children (16 total), who share genetic lineages with each other and are blood-brother/sisters - such a plentitude of children can eliminate problems stemming from jealousy as well, because it wouldn't be MY kids, but OUR kids. Expand this to 10 or 100 more women, and there may be a LOT of parenting going on, just amongst the women.

This "poly-parenting" precludes the scenario that CON proffers, that "a mother [may be] the sole provider for her children." Nonsense. There would be MANY mothers and fathers. VERY MANY. Such is the power of this parable of the long spoons when applied to polyamory and polygamy!


Obviously I am being somewhat facetious here, because I am fully cognizant that if each woman had 10 babies, we would very, very soon be hit with an over-population problem, and the evils of scarcity would then risk wiping out all of mankind.

However, the parable assumes that scarcity is not an issue, and if scarcity is indeed not an issue, it would behoove everyone to be intimate with as many people as possible, both in a relational and sexual context. This would be the pathway to heaven! Let the orgies commence!

I have thus fulfilled burden for this debate, no matter how ridiculous this parable may seem to be when applied to reality.



A lot of women don't want to become mothers (1), or they only want to have a child or two rather than a large family. This is why there is widespread contraception use and also over 100,000 abortions each day worldwide (2).

The birthrate in the US is about 1.9. If the population needs to stay at its current levels, it can easily be supplemented by immigration. There's no need to force unwilling women to reproduce, as Pro suggests.

More importantly for the resolution, it is not sexual behavior that is limiting the birthrate. Women have access to contraception and abortion, and so they can have sex lives without having children. There is no connection between polyamory and an increased birthrate.

women working together

Pro concedes that polygamy and polyamory will not make fathers more responsible for their offspring. However, he argues that women are more likely to work together to raise children under such a system.

For instance, he argues that cooking dinner for ten families at once would be economically more efficient than each individual cooking for her own family. This has nothing to do with polyandry, of course. These efficiencies exist no matter what the participants' sexual habits.

It's interesting that despite these efficiencies, families usually do not choose to prepare food in this way. There must be other factors that are more important.

many fathers

Pro argues that if a woman has children with 10 different men, then she shares the responsibility for child-raising with ten fathers. This could be by serial monogamy, of course, rather than polyandry.

But this goes against Pro's own argument about efficiency. If a father has ten children with ten different women, he needs to split his time among ten different households, and the travel time alone will make this inefficient.

Also he would only be able to spend a very small amount of time in each household. He probably wouldn't be able to keep his things there and energy would be wasted carrying personal items from house to house.

Finally, parenting requires constant dedication. If a father is only at a child's house every second Wednesday, for example, he would miss all the important things in that child's life. The proper connection between parent and child would not form properly.

many many parents

We live in an age where paternity can be easily established. People know who their parents are. Children don't have many, many parents.

Even if such a thing were possible, it would not be desirable. Fifty acquaintances do not make up for one or two excellent and close friends. It's the quality of the relationships that is important, not the quantity.

Debate Round No. 3


CON attempts to bring up a lot of practical criticisms of unrestricted polyamory and polygamy. I didn't quite expect such a serious debate over a topic I know to be impractical for different reasons, but I will address them nevertheless.


R4) CON: "A lot of women don't want to become is not sexual behavior that is limiting the birthrate."

I agree, especially given the amount of sexual liberation in our society...we're already intimate with far more people than would be proper in an actual monogamous and monandrous society. So, if it's not sex limiting procreation, maybe, just maybe, the reason deals with scarcity - the costs of raising children in developed nations is astronomical - costs are high because resources are scarce.

Page 23 of this report ( shows that raising a kid in 2011 is projected to cost about $234,900 (not including college, which can easily double or even triple the cost); out of this number, more than 3/4 the expenses can be handled with greater efficiency via economies of scale (carpooling for transportation, shared housing, "cooking for 40", more parents precluding the need for daycare).

CON is attempting to argue that the parable isn't logically sound (soundness vs validity - I fully agree, but this debate isn't about the soundness of the is about the validity of the parable. Is this parable's logic internally consistent? If so, then the parable advocates for polyamory and polygamy, no matter how unsound the parable may be. The operating premise of this parable is that scarcity is not an issue, as the table is plentiful. That certainly isn't realistic, but if it were, then the orgies will commence!

Regardless, I've demonstrated how polyamory and polygamy can lead to greater efficiencies, which would lend to soundness as well as validity of the parable. I need only prove validity, i.e. issues that do not stem from scarcity.

R5) CON: "Pro concedes that polygamy and polyamory will not make fathers more responsible for their offspring."

I make no such concession. My points were that even if this were true, or better yet, even if it made them less responsible, polyamory and polygamy would still lead to better child-rearing due to more mothers giving more parenting.

There's little reason to think CON is correct. If on average a father devoted only 10% of his time to child-rearing and this didn't change with polygamy and polyandry, economies of scale would still mean that he'd do more parenting overall and hence be "more responsible for their offspring."

R6) CON: "Cooking dinner for ten families at once would be economically more efficient than each individual cooking for her own family. This has nothing to do with polyandry, of course."

Why wouldn't it have anything to do with polyandry? Wouldn't you be far more inclined to cook dinner for someone you had an intimate relationship with?
Or 39 other someones?

R7) CON: "If a father has ten children with ten different women, he needs to split his time among ten different households, and the travel time alone will make this inefficient."

Shared housing would ameliorate this concern. You already share a house with your spouse and children, so if you had 20 other spouses with 100 children that are biologically related in one way or another, you'd simply live in a much bigger house.

R8) CON: "If a father is only at a child's house every second Wednesday, for example, he would miss all the important things in that child's life."

False! He'd catch all the important things that occurred every second Wednesday! Then father #2 would catch all the second Thursdays, father #3 etc...little Johnny would have a parent at every soccer game, even if it was a different parent at each one!


R9) CON: "We live in an age where paternity can be easily established. People know who their parents are. Children don't have many, many parents."

CON fails to account for half-brothers and half-sisters, in which case there would be many step-fathers and step-mothers. VERY MANY.

R10) CON: "Fifty acquaintances do not make up for one or two excellent and close friends. It's the quality of the relationships that is important, not the quantity."

By this logic, it's not the quantity of time that's important, but the quality of time that is important. Given the amount of sharing inherent in the logic of this parable, distrust would largely be eliminated, thus quality of relationships would skyrocket even with less time spent on each one.


I am aware there are some valid reasons why this parable is so compelling. Sharing and increase intimacy will indeed lead to better and more caring relationships which directly lends to better child-rearing, and this is independent from issues of scarcity. Even some of the issues pertaining to scarcity of resources can be ameliorated through this parable.

I have addressed all of CON's concerns, so I have upheld burden.


one at a time

In the parable of the long spoons, people are sitting around a table and unable to feed themselves. In the version I first heard, their elbows are strapped to boards and so they can't bend their arms. However, they are able to feed each other.

I suggest that each person would only be able to feed another person at a time. Even though they have two arms (and may two spoons) if you're scooping stew or rice to feed someone else, you need to give it all your attention to get it into their mouth properly.

Therefore, the parable definitely advocates a one at a time policy, which corresponds to monogamy or serial monogamy.


Pro has failed to show that polyamory would boost the birthrate.

There are four ways to boost the birthrate: restrict women's career and economic opportunities (1), restrict access to birth control and abortion (2) degrade infant health (3) or pay women to have babies (4). None of these methods relate to polyamory.

economic efficiencies

Pro argues that people are more likely to share resources and chores when they are having sexual relations with each other.

I don't think this is right. Firstly, because cooking is most commonly shared among family members, mothers, fathers, aunts, cousins, etc., who are not having sex with each other. And secondly, if Pro's suggested arrangement is economically efficent, then sexual behavior is irrelevant. That is, the gains due to efficiency should be enough on their own.

Pro has failed to prove any positive effects specific to polyamory.

the parable and polyamory

Pro has tried to argue that the food on the table in the parable can be interpreted as offspring, and that the goodness of eating the food can be interpreted as the goodness of reproducing.

If that is so, then according to the parable, we should help each other reproduce, because we can't do it alone.

However, I can't see what that has to do with monogamy or polygamy. The parable doesn't specify the types of arrangements that should be made in terms of groupings. Although obviously nature dictates that a heterosexual partnership is essential for producing children.

Pro has failed to show that polyamory would produce any benefit over and above other kinds of arrangements such as monogamy.

Debate Round No. 4



1) In Round #2, CON asserted that "more sexual partners does not lead to more procreation", which was at first entirely reasonable in that it noted biological limitations in child-birthing. By round #4, it devolved into unfounded speculation that "Pro has [supposedly] failed to show that polyamory would boost the birthrate."

These two statements are utterly disjointed, have no relevancy to each other, and do not proffer a consistent nor reasonable argument as to whether or not the resolution is valid. Central to this inconsistency is that CON offers zero explanation as to what would actually cause people to want to have children - instead, she talks about paying women to have babies, birth control, and abortion. Apparently to CON, children are more a curse than a blessing.

PRO has been very, very consistent that continuing one's genetic legacy is a primary factor as to why people would want children. Quality of child-rearing is thus an integral part of securing such a legacy. Having more children with more partners would mean that there are more parents that would have incentive to be responsible in taking care of the children. CON's counter-arguments to such assertions have been non-sensical and largely dropped upon subsequent scrutiny - CON argues in round #3 that having more sexual partners would not lead to more parents or more parenting, yet completely abandons such reasoning by round #4 once PRO demonstrated that such children would have very many step-parents, and that responsibilities would be shared amongst the pool of parents thus lessening the burden for each parent overall.

2) In Round #2, CON asserted that "more sexual partners does not lead to more help with child-rearing" by at first asserting known discrepancies in care giving between fathers and mothers. In Round #3 CON furthered this line of thinking by attempting to cite how "If a father has ten children with ten different women, he needs to split his time among ten different households, and the travel time alone will make this inefficient," which PRO addressed by citing how housing would also be shared by this (much) larger family.

CON's line of argumentation then devolved into inconsistencies in that in Round #4, CON then asserts that such sharing has nothing to do with polyamory or polygamy, and that people do not have sex with "aunts, cousins, etc.". This is wholly ridiculous. Would you share your house with complete strangers, or would you share them with people you love and with whom you have intimate relations? Of course such sharing has everything to do with such intimacy.

Do you have sex with your father, mother, daughters or sons? Of course not, yet you share your house with them all the same, because those relationships are resultant of sexual intimacy between the parents, not the offspring. CON's line of reasoning here does not acknowledge basic realities of family creation and living arrangements.

3) CON believes that "the parable definitely advocates a one at a time policy, which corresponds to monogamy or serial monogamy." This is an unfounded assertion. While PRO agrees that procreation stipulates that people have sex with one person at a time, it does NOT correspond with serial monogamy, which requires that people divorce their current spouse before acquiring another one, nor does it necessarily correspond with monogamy. If it did, then to be consistent with the parable, people would only eat the potatoes on the table, and would ignore the ham, steak, lobster, etc, or would have to give up potatoes to eat the other foods. This is also non-sensical.


I have been very consistent with my stance on this resolution - Having more children with more partners would mean that there are more parents that would have incentive to be responsible in taking care of the children. Apparently to CON, sex is only about hedonism and has little to nothing to do with children. While she is certainly free to her opinion, it wholly ignores a very valid reason as to why people have sex - to have children. All of my arguments have dealt with the consequences of having more children with more sexual partners, and have shown several positives that would come from such arrangements. CON by round #4 largely dropped any criticism she had of such arrangements, in the end only weakly and almost nonsensically attempting to resolve that such arrangements do not ostensibly stem from intimacy.

I fully acknowledge that if a society has too many children, it will hit resource constraints (for example, there is simply not enough water in the world at a certain point), yet the internal logic of the parable dictates that "the table is plentiful". Given this unrealistic premise of the parable, when applied to sex, it would strongly imply polyandry and polygamy. That is my burden and I have upheld it.

Thanks to CON for participating in this debate, and to readers for reading it. I look forward to insightful comments/criticism of these arguments.


It's the end of the long weekend. It's warm, it's autumn, the garden is full of flowers and I'm in a positive mood. I'm ready to praise and see the good.

Alas, this debate and my opponents arguments loom like a cloud on the sunny blue of my awareness. They are confused. They make no sense. They are even - and this word seems so out of place in this lovely world - annoying.

I'll try to be brief.

The parable and sex

People at a table sharing food. According to Pro's interpretation in Round 2, the people are people, the food is sex.

But then, in the final round, he argued that people are food. He says that "to be consistent [with the idea of monogamy] people would only eat the potatoes on the table, and would ignore the ham, steak, lobster, etc, or would have to give up potatoes to eat the other foods."

Are the people of the parable now pimps and the food the sex workers? Is the parable advocating that we "serve" each other a range of people to have sex with from a table of plenty?

Of course it is suggesting nothing of the kind. Pro's interpretations are contradictory and ridiculous.

Pregnancy and Childbirth

The parable is urging us to help each other to sex. We cannot help ourselves. Pro interprets this as the parable advocating for procreative sex. He argues that the "heaven" of sex can only be experienced through childbirth and raising offspring.

As I have pointed out many, many times in this debate, if it comes to childbirth and raising children, it doesn't make any difference how many men a woman has sex with, assuming that they are all fertile.

It's the same as in the parable - it doesn't matter how many people feed you with a spoon. One person could feed you everything, or you could get a spoonful from each person at the table. You still get to eat all you want.

There is no information in the parable to distinguish monogamy from polyandry and polygamy.

Raising Children

The parable does speak to the idea of raising children, I think. The parable urges us to help others, and children are others and so we should help them. This I agree with.

What does this have to do with multiple sex partners? Absolutely nothing.

Pro has put forward a theory about multiple sex partners making us care for children the more. According to Pro, the more women share sex partners, the more likely they are to help each other with the cooking and babysit.

Also, he seems to be arguing that the more women a man impregnates, the more eager he will be to spend time with not only his own children, but unrelated children who happen live with his various lovers.

Pro provides no proof for any of this, of course.

More importantly, in terms of the resolution, there is no connection between the parable and these unconventional sexual set-ups. The parable urges us to take care of children - yes - but it is silent on the issue of how many men we should get to father them.

Shared housing

In his final round, Pro claims that the parable is urging him to father ten children with ten different women. To reduce his travelling time between households, he proposes that he should live in the same house with those ten women and their offspring.

Of course, each of those women has other lovers who have fathered other children, and so those lovers would need to live in the same house too, and those lovers' lovers and all their offspring and so on.

Eventually, the whole world would live in the same house. The house would have to be big enough to house billions of people, and so travelling from one end of the house to the other would be like crossing half the globe.

Travel between houses would be replaced by travel within the house, and there would be no gains in efficiency.

In any case, the parable doesn't speak to this at all. The parable does not specify if the people at the table break into pairs or groups of three or a larger network to help each other. Monogamy is totally consistent with the parable.

Economies of scale and relatives

Humans tend to share food and chores in kinship groups, who don't have sex with each other. Pro has accepted this as true.

However, he argues that men who have sex with lots of women will take on the fathering role of children they are unrelated to. And that women who have sex with lots of men will take on the mothering role of unrelated children. He argues that sexual intimacy will make this so.

I don't think so. I think a mother of ten children who is also having a lot of sex with ten different men will have no time to do anything else except change nappies, buy lubricant, make sandwiches and sleep.

I suggest that the men who visit each child once a fortnight will not waste time bonding with the other, random children, but will spend that precious evening ruffling their own child's hair, bouncing a ball, and asking about school, before pushing off.

If economies of scale occur, they will be mediated by relatedness. Pro has ignored this law of nature.


The parable is silent about polgamy and polyandry. It certainly does not advocate for them,

Debate Round No. 5
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by wrichcirw 7 years ago
Extremely unsatisfying debate. For whatever reason, CON decided to begin arguing in earnest in her conclusion.

As it is, here is a forum topic to discuss this debate:
Posted by Hematite12 7 years ago
I'll be following this debate, sounds interesting.
Posted by Intrepid 7 years ago
I love the debate topic. Should be a great debate. I would even consider taking it if you lowered the resolution to 4 rounds.
Posted by wrichcirw 7 years ago
I'm very flattered when people ask me to read their debate even though I currently have set a policy for myself of not scoring debates. That shows that people actually care about what I think instead of caring about whether or not I will help them win a debate on this website. I'm sure some people find satisfaction in a high W/L ratio here, but given how easy it is to obtain one (just accept debates from people you know will forfeit, which describes the vast majority of debates on this website), I don't place much value on that either.
Posted by Wylted 7 years ago
Sounds like good reasons. I noticed on edeb8 they have a scoring system that encourages lots of votes and weighs wordy RFDs pretty heavily. I agree with your analysis of voting pools. Most the voting pools seem informal, but they're definitely there. I really only call my personal voting pool up, when my debate has no votes.

It seems like the new voting system, might encourage the voting pool problem.
Posted by wrichcirw 7 years ago
Several reasons:

1) Scoring is highly political here, no question. To "win" debates based upon the score essentially involves getting together a group of individuals that are motivated to vote for you. Most of those with high ELOs have a large voting base.
2) Debates are typically decided by far too few votes, thus rendering any actual meaning in the score to be minuscule and insignificant.
3) I place far more importance on the RFD than the numerical score. The RFD is valuable to me, whereas the score is not. The only value I place upon the score is that it allows me to more effectively screen for opponents (it's impossible for anyone with only one debate to have a higher ELO than me, which is what the acceptance criteria of my debates typically are). I place almost zero value on the score as a determiner of the quality of a debater.
Posted by Wylted 7 years ago
Have you ever explained what that non-scoring thing is about? I'm curious.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Wylted 7 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:00 
Reasons for voting decision: No vote as requested. Just doing this to get it off the least votes list, so I can fin debates that need voting easier.

By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use.