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Week 9 - Adultery

5 Pages

Course Code
Philosophy 1305F/G
Adam Yates

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Week 9: Adultery Richard Wasserstrom – “Is Adultery Immoral?” The traditional assumption of the immorality of adultery (extrametrical sex) is contentious Arguments are required: we do not want to hold “extramarital sex” to be wrong by definition - Compare murder and killing - Adultery may be defined as immoral o But then we have to find out what about extramarital sex is immoral To claim that extramarital sex is simpliciter is necessarily wrong would be Two arguments offered: 1) Adultery involves the breaking of an important promise 2) Adultery involves deception 1.) Promise Breaking: What makes adultery wrong, so the argument goes, is that it involves the breaking of an important promise Both spouses promise to abstain from sexual relations with a third person Promise of sexual exclusivity What makes the breaking of this promise more serious than others is that it involves the intentional infliction of pain. Why is the breaking of the promise of fidelity to one’s spouse more hurtful than the breaking of other promises? 1) Fidelity may have been difficult to the non-cheating spouse: the faithful spouse may feel unfairly restrained 2) Adultery may expose or be indicative of the indifference to the faithful spouse 3) Adultery may expose or be indicative of a kind of rejections the faithful spouse may view the adultery as revealing affection for another person 2.) Deception Adultery is made wrong because of deception 1. Adultery involves lying (active deception) 2. Adultery involves dishonesty about the present state of the marriage as one between committed partners (passive deception) 3. Adultery involves deception of a deeper sort as related to the commonly attributed connection between sex and affection: the sexual act carries meaning i. This kind of passive deception may relate to one’s spouse: not only that they remain committed but also that a kind of affection remains between them ii. This kind of passive deception may relate to the extramarital partner: the cheating spouse may be taken to intimate the kind of affection and intimacy associated with sex The working assumption with the usual argument against adultery is that the kind of intimacy and affection associated with sec can only exist towards one person at a given time in one’s life Weaken the following assumptions: 1. Sex with intimacy and affection 2. Intimacy and affection with exclusivity - love draws out something more we can expand this notion of love between adults if it is not necessarily exclusive Extramarital sex can be free of the morally objectionable features of adultery “Open Marriage” Suppose the following - The two spouses agree that extramarital sex is permissible - There is no impetus to deceive the other spouse or partner o Then the traditional argument against adultery does not apply because extramarital sex in this situation does not involve lies or deception Does the absence of a commitment to sexual exclusivity entail that the relationship is not a marriage? Is a commitment to sexual exclusivity a necessary condition for marriage? Necessary condition: x is a necessary condition for z - If it is not the case x, then it is not the case of z According to Was. A commitment to sexual exclusivity is not a necessary condition fro marriage - Its presence may be indicative of a marriage Indications of marriage 1. A formal ceremony 2. The capacity of both partners to consummate (sexual intercourse is physically impossible) 3. Willingness for, and commitment to, sexual exclusivity 4. Feelings of love and affection between both partners However, we can imagine that lack one or more of these features we would assume that they are married. The commitment to sexual exclusivity does have a role to play in our concept of marriage Suppose there was a practice that had all the other indicia of marriage but the two parties were prohibited from having sex with one another Would we say that the two are married? - Probably not! - To be married it must be the permissible for the two persons to have a sexual relationship - But no such incompatibility follows from the fact that if is permissible for one or both of the partners to have extramarital sex Don Marquis – “What’s Wrong With Adultery?” Was. Account of the wrongness of adultery is inadequate Was. Argues that what makes adultery wrong, is the intentional infliction of suffering on one’s spouse - This does not always occur with extramarital sex – open marriages – but when the marriage is not open, the wr
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