What's Morally Wrong with Incest?

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What's Morally Wrong with Incest?

#1  Postby Federico » Jul 17, 2013 1:47 pm

I know this topic has been touched before in our Forum (e.g. in I'm in love with my grandson and we're having a baby), but an in-depth review of this controversial subject has not been done since about three years ago, when I sent my OP for the thread Do you think Incest is wrong? to the now defunct Richard Dawkins Forum.
Given the present and pregnant sociological changes brought about by a new Zeitgeist and a more tolerant society resulting in (e.g.) expanding legalization of gay marriage, I wonder whether incest is still considered a morally objectionable sexual practice, as mainly considered by the RDF forumists, and not only for eugenetic reasons as (e.g.) written by ReasonOrBust in his post (quote):

"....As far as the subject is concerned, I think incest is discouraged for the same reason that many companies do not allow for in-office relationships, especially between bosses and employees. The can of worms it opens up is just too much, and should be nipped in the butt; is it possible for bosses and employees to have relationships without one abusing their power... sure, but one would do well to attempt at preventing it from become an issue within ones company.

They same can be said about parents and children, I'm sure there are consenting conditions that are ethically, shall we say "normal" but, the idea that the father or mother has used their already psychological authority over the other to push sexual favors.. or child molestation.... it opens up a whole can of worms when one says it's okay for a father to have sex with his daughter.
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Re: What's Morally Wrong with Incest?

#2  Postby mattthomas » Jul 17, 2013 1:55 pm

Other than knowing that any children you have may be destined to live with genetic abnormality that affects their quality of life... nothing. From my point of view.

It's not a problem I've ever had to think about, not once have I looked at my sister and considered her to be remotely tappable.

Caveat:
Between two consenting individuals at an age where they feel able to make that decision, though that in itself is subjective.
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Re: What's Morally Wrong with Incest?

#3  Postby Moridin » Jul 17, 2013 1:56 pm

Federico wrote:Given the present and pregnant sociological changes brought about by a new Zeitgeist and a more tolerant society resulting in (e.g.) expanding legalization of gay marriage, I wonder whether incest is still considered a morally objectionable sexual practice


The fact that two adults of the same sex can get married has no relevance whatsoever on the moral or legal status of incest. This is because the former is based on informed consent and harms no one, whereas incest is usually not based on informed consent and is usually harmful.

Anyone who claims or implies that same-sex couples ability to get married will wreck havoc in terms of sexual ethics (allowing incest, bestiality etc.) does not deserve to be taken seriously.
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Re: What's Morally Wrong with Incest?

#4  Postby mindhack » Jul 17, 2013 1:59 pm

Is there another word for incest with neutral or even positive connotations?
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Re: What's Morally Wrong with Incest?

#5  Postby Federico » Jul 17, 2013 2:17 pm

Moridin wrote:
Federico wrote:Given the present and pregnant sociological changes brought about by a new Zeitgeist and a more tolerant society resulting in (e.g.) expanding legalization of gay marriage, I wonder whether incest is still considered a morally objectionable sexual practice


The fact that two adults of the same sex can get married has no relevance whatsoever on the moral or legal status of incest..

I agree. Legalization of gay marriage is just a sign times have changed: Have they changed also for incest?

Moridin wrote: This is because the former is based on informed consent and harms no one, whereas incest is usually not based on informed consent and is usually harmful..


I don't agree. Many incestual relationships are between consenting adults and harm no one. But are they morally wrong?

Moridin wrote: Anyone who claims or implies that same-sex couples ability to get married will wreck havoc in terms of sexual ethics (allowing incest, bestiality etc.) does not deserve to be taken seriously.


I haven't claimed anything, and certainly I wouldn't put incest in the same basket with bestiality.
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Re: What's Morally Wrong with Incest?

#6  Postby Moridin » Jul 17, 2013 2:19 pm

Federico wrote:Many incestual relationships are between consenting adults and harm no one.


Please provide evidence for this claim.

This includes evidence that informed consent (not just consent, which can be tainted) existed and that there is psychological evidence that no harm occurred.
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Re: What's Morally Wrong with Incest?

#7  Postby Shrunk » Jul 17, 2013 2:27 pm

mattthomas wrote:Other than knowing that any children you have may be destined to live with genetic abnormality that affects their quality of life... nothing. From my point of view.

It's not a problem I've ever had to think about, not once have I looked at my sister and considered her to be remotely tappable.


That's the reason for the taboo right there. We seem to be hardwired to be repulsed at the idea of sex w/ our close relatives, and this repulsion leads us to formalize it as a general legal and "moral" principle. It's hard to justify on rational grounds.

Moridin wrote:
Federico wrote:Many incestual relationships are between consenting adults and harm no one.


Please provide evidence for this claim.

This includes evidence that informed consent (not just consent, which can be tainted) existed and that there is psychological evidence that no harm occurred.


Would you ask for the same degree of evidence if someone claimed consensual homosexual sex was harmless?
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Re: What's Morally Wrong with Incest?

#8  Postby Shrunk » Jul 17, 2013 2:29 pm

Federico wrote:I haven't claimed anything, and certainly I wouldn't put incest in the same basket with bestiality.


I would. It is generally disapproved of because of the degree of disgust it evokes in most people, but it is otherwise difficult to form a rational argument for its proscription based on the moral principles we generally use.
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Re: What's Morally Wrong with Incest?

#9  Postby mindhack » Jul 17, 2013 2:33 pm

Shrunk wrote:
Federico wrote:I haven't claimed anything, and certainly I wouldn't put incest in the same basket with bestiality.


I would. It is generally disapproved of because of the degree of disgust it evokes in most people, but it is otherwise difficult to form a rational argument for its proscription based on the moral principles we generally use.

But isn't incest more shady than bestiality, where to draw the lines?

What for example about two sisters who love eachother. Or nieces and nephews, who may even legally marry in some places?
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Re: What's Morally Wrong with Incest?

#10  Postby mattthomas » Jul 17, 2013 2:36 pm

Shrunk wrote:
Federico wrote:I haven't claimed anything, and certainly I wouldn't put incest in the same basket with bestiality.


I would. It is generally disapproved of because of the degree of disgust it evokes in most people, but it is otherwise difficult to form a rational argument for its proscription based on the moral principles we generally use.

Morality isn't about disgust, it's about doing harm.
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Re: What's Morally Wrong with Incest?

#11  Postby Shrunk » Jul 17, 2013 2:44 pm

mattthomas wrote:
Shrunk wrote:
Federico wrote:I haven't claimed anything, and certainly I wouldn't put incest in the same basket with bestiality.


I would. It is generally disapproved of because of the degree of disgust it evokes in most people, but it is otherwise difficult to form a rational argument for its proscription based on the moral principles we generally use.

Morality isn't about disgust, it's about doing harm.


That depends on whether you are speaking prescriptively or descriptively. I'm doing the latter.

I'm not sure if this is what you are arguing, but if you are saying that bestiality is immoral because it causes harm to the animal, then is it immoral to keep an animal in captivity and then kill it for food?
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Re: What's Morally Wrong with Incest?

#12  Postby Moridin » Jul 17, 2013 2:57 pm

Shrunk wrote:Would you ask for the same degree of evidence if someone claimed consensual homosexual sex was harmless?


Those two claims are not on evidential par with each other for three reasons:

(1) There is a higher prior probability that incest would be associated with psychological harm than homosexual sex would be associated with psychological harm.

(2) We have baseline evidence that suggest that incest often lacks informed consent and is usually harmful. No such evidence exists for homosexual sex.

(3) We have positive evidence that homosexual sex is not psychologically harmful. This is because research has found that e.g. sexually active gay men do not differ from their heterosexual counterparts in terms of psychological adjustment.

Because of this, I would require more evidence to accept the position that "many incestual relationships are between consenting adults and harm no one" compared with the position that "many homosexual relationships are between consenting adults and harm no one" and I would be rationally justified in requiring that.
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Re: What's Morally Wrong with Incest?

#13  Postby Agrippina » Jul 17, 2013 3:06 pm

Joffrey Lannister is a good excuse for not having incestuous relationships. I know it's just a story but if we look at what's happened with thoroughbred animals, dogs, cats and horses, and the prevalence of race-specific diseases among humans, variety is what will keep our species healthy. If we interbreed with close relatives for long enough, we're likely experience more of the type of thing that happens with dogs. My boxer for instance has a digestive problem that my vet tells me he's seeing more and more of among boxers, which he says is a result of the practice of too much in-breeding.
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Re: What's Morally Wrong with Incest?

#14  Postby mattthomas » Jul 17, 2013 3:25 pm

Shrunk wrote:
mattthomas wrote:
Shrunk wrote:
Federico wrote:I haven't claimed anything, and certainly I wouldn't put incest in the same basket with bestiality.


I would. It is generally disapproved of because of the degree of disgust it evokes in most people, but it is otherwise difficult to form a rational argument for its proscription based on the moral principles we generally use.

Morality isn't about disgust, it's about doing harm.


That depends on whether you are speaking prescriptively or descriptively. I'm doing the latter.

I'm not sure if this is what you are arguing, but if you are saying that bestiality is immoral because it causes harm to the animal, then is it immoral to keep an animal in captivity and then kill it for food?

No disagreements here
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Re: What's Morally Wrong with Incest?

#15  Postby Shrunk » Jul 17, 2013 3:26 pm

Moridin wrote:
Shrunk wrote:Would you ask for the same degree of evidence if someone claimed consensual homosexual sex was harmless?


Those two claims are not on evidential par with each other for three reasons:

(1) There is a higher prior probability that incest would be associated with psychological harm than homosexual sex would be associated with psychological harm.


Umm, OK. So I assume you wil soon be providing all that evidence, rather than just asking us to take your word that it exists, right?

(2) We have baseline evidence that suggest that incest often lacks informed consent and is usually harmful. No such evidence exists for homosexual sex.


Irrelevant, since we are specifically talking about consensual sex.

3) We have positive evidence that homosexual sex is not psychologically harmful. This is because research has found that e.g. sexually active gay men do not differ from their heterosexual counterparts in terms of psychological adjustment.


Also irrelevant, since at the moment we still have no evidence that consensual incest between adults causes any harm. Just your assurance that this evidence exists.

Agrippina wrote:Joffrey Lannister is a good excuse for not having incestuous relationships. I know it's just a story but if we look at what's happened with thoroughbred animals, dogs, cats and horses, and the prevalence of race-specific diseases among humans, variety is what will keep our species healthy. If we interbreed with close relatives for long enough, we're likely experience more of the type of thing that happens with dogs. My boxer for instance has a digestive problem that my vet tells me he's seeing more and more of among boxers, which he says is a result of the practice of too much in-breeding.


That argument works in favour of eugenics as well, though, doesn't it?
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Re: What's Morally Wrong with Incest?

#16  Postby CdesignProponentsist » Jul 17, 2013 3:27 pm

I believe it is morally wrong to produce children through incest, other than that I got nothing.
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Re: What's Morally Wrong with Incest?

#17  Postby Shrunk » Jul 17, 2013 3:30 pm

mattthomas wrote:
Shrunk wrote:That depends on whether you are speaking prescriptively or descriptively. I'm doing the latter.

I'm not sure if this is what you are arguing, but if you are saying that bestiality is immoral because it causes harm to the animal, then is it immoral to keep an animal in captivity and then kill it for food?

No disagreements here


Sorry, are you agreeing that it is immoral to eat animals? If so, then you're in the clear. People who oppose the exploitation of animals for human need or pleasure in all circumstances can make a moral case against bestiality. For others, it's not so easy.
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Re: What's Morally Wrong with Incest?

#18  Postby Shrunk » Jul 17, 2013 3:31 pm

CdesignProponentsist wrote:I believe it is morally wrong to produce children through incest, other than that I got nothing.


Ah, yes. That's also a good response to Agrippina's argument, which only works if the sexual activity results in procreation.
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Re: What's Morally Wrong with Incest?

#19  Postby Agrippina » Jul 17, 2013 3:35 pm

Shrunk wrote:
CdesignProponentsist wrote:I believe it is morally wrong to produce children through incest, other than that I got nothing.


Ah, yes. That's also a good response to Agrippina's argument, which only works if the sexual activity results in procreation.


Exactly. I don't care who people sleep with, as long as they give some thought to the children they might produce. Again: Joffrey Lannister. :grin:

Edit to add: I'm thinking about sibling incest, more than parent and child. Of course there's the question of consent. If people are having consensual sex with other people, and there are no children involved, then I'm not interested.
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Re: What's Morally Wrong with Incest?

#20  Postby chairman bill » Jul 17, 2013 3:36 pm

In many cases I'd say that there is a power imbalance, and that (at the very least) renders incest potentially abusive. I think it is right to draw a legal line in that case. Where I am a little more open to what is technically incest, is where a couple have been separated as children, then meet & get into a relationship (generally not knowing they are related). In such case, I think we need to provide genetic counselling, and I'd certainly be wary of any chance of them breeding (with all that implies for future generations), but none of this is down to morality as such.
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