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In an article from the Associated Press, a Vatican official defends the church's stance that marriage is only between a man and a woman and should not be open to homosexuals by asking why we don't go ahead and allow polygamy.

What's the Objectivist answer? Should consensual polygamy be allowed?

asked Nov 11 '12 at 12:01

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edited Nov 11 '12 at 13:26

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

The essence of this question is What constitutes "marriage"? Is marriage merely a contract (if so, then it is not a very good one), or is it something more. From an Objectivist view, I contend that marriage is a social construct that pre-dates civilization, and that its intention is to stabilize the male/female mating relationship for the rearing of children and defining lines of paternity and inheritance. Marriage benefits individuals and society by eliminating one of the primary sources of conflict between men (possession of women and children) and continuing the race.

(Mar 20 '13 at 14:18) Scott G Lloyd Scott%20G%20Lloyd's gravatar image

So the question of polygamy is properly understood if we ponder whether it clarifies or muddles social stability for individuals within society. I would ask first "Is it sustainable?" Clearly not as it denies most young men the ability to marry otherwise eligible women. Does it benefit the individuals within the marriage? Possibly, but the track record is unclear. Are lines of inheritance and paternity preserved? Again, possibly, but multiple partner marriages are legally very complex. Sorting through these issues are challenging and time-consuming.

(Mar 20 '13 at 14:57) Scott G Lloyd Scott%20G%20Lloyd's gravatar image

In the objectivist point of view, you can certainly love more than one person enough to want to have sexual relations with them. But, for example, if you are already in a relationship, you can't have sex with anyone else unless you have your partner's permission since both already have a contract. But yes, you could have sex with several people with no problem at all if its fully consensual.

But remember, in the objectivist view, sex is a very important thing reserved only to those you love because they reflect your own values. Contrary to many people's believe, in Objectivism, it is morally wrong —but not ilegal, of course— to have sex with someone you don't love.

(Mar 20 '13 at 16:18) Juan Diego dAnconia Juan%20Diego%20dAnconia's gravatar image
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Objectivism may have a lot to say about the nature of love and sex, but all of that is actually irrelevant in this context, because what's important here is Objectivism's view of the role of government.

Objectivism holds that the role of government is to uphold individual rights -- to bar physical force from human relationships.

As long a relationship (or group of relationships) is fully consensual, according to Objectivism, government shall not interfere.

If a group of people are behaving peacefully, no matter how distasteful their behavior may be to other people, including Objectivists, the government shall protect their right to do as they wish.

No-one has a right not to be offended by the behavior of others. Government is not and shall not be an enforcer of good taste or good judgment.

The above regards the behavior of polygamy. Of course, though, the terms "marriage" and "spouse" have legal meanings, and so to simply introduce polygamy as a form of marriage would be to subvert legal precedent. Polygamy would have to be considered a new form of contract.

answered Nov 13 '12 at 09:36

John%20Paquette's gravatar image

John Paquette ♦

edited Nov 14 '12 at 16:56

I agree with virtually everything you state. However, your last paragraph is somewhat confusing. To me, marriage, in the eyes of the government, is a personal contract. As such, the proper function of government is to provide the venue for mediating dissolution of the contract should a mediator be needed. Defining who can engage in such contracts, the number of persons who can engage in such contracts, and other such issues is not a purview of government. To the extent that governments have defined marriage, their efforts are invalid and should be annulled.

(Nov 18 '12 at 19:17) ethwc ♦ ethwc's gravatar image

(Not enough room for my complete comment, so:) The objections of some "religionists" to poly and same sex marriages include fear that this would lead to child marriage and interspecies marriages. However, legitimate and legally enforceable contracts generally require participation by persons who are legally entitled to engage in contracts. In most cases, this requires adult homo sapiens. Minors wanting to engage in contracts are required to petition the courts for "emancipation" and are considered on case by case basis.

(Nov 18 '12 at 19:18) ethwc ♦ ethwc's gravatar image

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Asked: Nov 11 '12 at 12:01

Seen: 2,281 times

Last updated: Mar 20 '13 at 19:01