A Philosopher's Blog

The Incest Argument & Same-Sex Marriage

Posted in Ethics, Law, Philosophy, Politics, Relationships/Dating by Michael LaBossiere on April 10, 2013
Marriage March 2013

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One of the stock fallacious arguments against same sex-marriage is the slippery slope argument in which it is contended that allowing same sex-marriage will lead to allowing incestuous marriage. The mistake being made is, of course, that the link between the two is not actually made. Since the slippery slope fallacy is a fallacy, this is obviously a bad argument.

A non-fallacious argument that is also presented against same sex-marriage involves the contention that allowing same-sex marriage on the basis of a certain principle would require that, on the pain of inconsistency, we also accept incestuous marriage. This principle is typically some variant of the principle that a person should be able to marry any other person. Given that incestuous marriage is bad, this would seem to entail that we should not allow same-sex marriage.

My first standard reply to this argument is that if different-sex marriage does not require us to accept incestuous marriage, then neither does accepting same-sex marriage. But, if accepting same-sex marriage entails that we have to accept incestuous marriage, the same would also apply to different-sex marriage. That this is so is shown by the following argument. If same-sex marriage is based on the principle that a person should be allowed to marry the person they wish to marry, then it would seem that different-sex marriage is based on the principle that a person should be allowed to marry the person of the opposite sex they wish to marry. By analogy, if allowing a person to marry any person they want to marry allows incestuous marriage, then allowing a person to marry a member of the opposite sex would also allow incestuous marriage-albeit only to a member of the opposite sex. But, if the slide to incest can be stopped in the case of different-sex marriage, then the same stopping mechanism can be used in the case of same-sex marriage.

In the case of different-sex marriage, there is generally an injunction against people marrying close relatives. This same injunction would certainly seem to be applicable in the case of same-sex marriage. After all, there is nothing about accepting same-sex marriage that inherently requires accepting incestuous marriage.

One possible objection to my reply is that incestuous different-sex marriage is forbidden on the grounds that such relationships could produce children. More specifically, incestuous reproduction tends to be more likely to produce genetic defects which would provide a basis for a utilitarian moral argument against allowing incestuous marriage.  Obviously, same-sex marriages have no possibility of producing children naturally. This would be a relevant difference between same-sex marriage and different-sex marriage. Thus, it could be claimed that while different-sex marriage can be defended from incestuous marriage on these grounds, the same can not be said for same-sex marriage. Once it is allowed, then it would be unprincipled to deny same-sex-incestuous marriage.

There are four obvious replies here.

First, if the only moral problem with incestuous marriage is the higher  possibility of producing children with genetic defects, then incestuous same-sex marriage would not be morally problematic. Ironically, the relevant difference between the two that prevents denying same-sex-incestuous marriage would also make it morally acceptable.

Second, if a different-sex incestuous couple could not reproduce (due to natural or artificial sterility), then this principle would allow them to get married. After all, they are no more capable of producing children than a same-sex couple.

Third, if it could be shown that a different-sex incestuous couple would have the same chance of having healthy children as a non-incestuous couple, then this would allow them to get married. After all, they are no more likely to produce children with genetic defects than a non-incestuous couple.

Fourth, given that the principle is based on genetic defects being more likely than normal, it would follow that unrelated couples who are lkely to produce offspring with genetic defects should not be allowed to be married. After all, the principle is that couples who are likely to produce genetically defective offspring cannot be married. Thanks to advances in genetics, it is (or soon will be) possible (and affordable) to check the “genetic odds” for couples. As such, if incestuous marriage is wrong because of the higher possibility (whatever the level of unnacceptle risk might be) of genetic defects, then the union of unrelated people who have a higher possibiity of genetically defective children would also be wrong. This would seem to entail that if incestuous marriage should be illegal on these grounds, then so too should the union of unrelated people who have a similar chance of producing defective children.

In light of the above, the incest gambit against same-sex marriage would seem to fail. However, it also seems to follow that incestuous marriage would be acceptable in some cases.

Obviously enough, I have an emotional opposition to incest and believe that it should not be allowed. Of course, how I feel about it is no indication of its correctness or incorrectness. I do, of course, have argments against incest.

Many cases of incest involve a lack of consent, coercion or actual rape. Such cases often involve an older relative having sexual relations with a child. This sort of incest is clearly wrong and arguments for this are easy enough to provide-after all, one can make use of the usual arguments against coercion, child molestation and rape.

Where matters get rather more difficult is incest involving two consenting adults-be they of the same or different sexes. After all, the moral arguments that are based on a lack of consent no longer apply. Appealing to tradition will not work here-after all, that is a fallacy. The claim that it makes me uncomfortable or even sick would also not have any logical weight. As J.S. Mill argued, I have no right to prevent people from engaging in consenual activity just because I think it is offensive. What would be needed would be evidence of harm being done to others without their consent.

I have considered the idea that allowing incestuous marriage would be damaging to family relations. That is, the proper moral relations between relatives is such that incest would be harmful to the family as a whole. This is, obviously enough, analogous to the arguments made by those who oppose same-sex marriage. They argue that allowing same-sex marriage would be damaging to family relations because the proper moral relation between a married couple is such that same-sex marriage would damage to the family as a whole. As it stands, the evidence is that same-sex couples do not create such harm. Naturally, there is not much evidence involving incestuous marriages or relationships. However, if it could be shown that incestuous relationships between consenting adults were harmful, then they could thus be justly forbidden on utilitarian grounds. Naturally, the same would hold true of same-sex relationships.

Reflecting on incestuous marriage has, interestingly enough, given me some sympathy for people who have reflected on same-sex marriage and believe that there is something wrong about it. After all, I am against incestuous marriage and thinking of it makes me feel ill. However, I am at a loss for a truly compelling moral argument against it that would not also apply to non-related couples. My best argument, as I see it, is the harm argument. This is, as noted above, analogous to the harm argument used by opponents of same-sex marriage. The main difference is, of course, that the harm arguments presented by opponents of same sex-marriage have been shown to have premises that are not true. For example, claims about the alleged harms to children from having same-sex parents have been shown to be untrue. As such, I am not against same-sex marriage, but I am opposed to incestuous marriage-be it same or different sexes.

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48 Responses

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  1. ajmacdonaldjr said, on April 10, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Your recent struggle to untangle the reasoning of those for and against same-sex marriage remind me of someone trying to untangle a badly tangled rope. Your a rational man living in irrational times. Get a knife and cut the rope. People are rational today. In fact, many of them are incapable of reason. We live in postmodern times and in post modern times we don’t need or what rational reasons for doing what we do… we simply do them. The concept of “marriage” is up for redefinition and deconstruction; therefore “marriage” is whatever people say it is, incest, included. After all, who is to say it’s not? God? Natural Law? Tradition? Reason? Certainly not, since postmodernism and deconstruction specifically targets these for demolition. Like Mill said, we need experiments in living; therefore anything anyone wishes to experiment with and call “marriage” will and should be applauded.today. What’s your next article? The inanimate object and same-sex marriage argument? Sam-sex marriage will lead down the slippery slope of people wanting to marry inanimate objects? Who’s to say a man who marries his toaster is wrong? What standard would we use to decry rather than celebrate such an act of rebellion against Reason, Tradition, Natural Law, and God? We would celebrate such an act and call those who dared speak against it “nutcase hidebound moralists.”.

    • biomass2 said, on April 10, 2013 at 8:39 am

      Man marries toaster. . .Woman marries frying pan. . . Are we at the bottom of the slope yet or only in the middle?How about a menage a trois (how does one type an accent aigu or an accent grave?) between a woman, a duck and a toaster?
      How in the world does any of this in any way further the discussion on same sex marriage?
      I have a suggestion . Get on with egalizing same sex marriage. If. . . that’s not if and when . . .but IF any serious problem arises with the law, deal with it through the legislative process.

  2. Nal said, on April 10, 2013 at 10:48 am

    If you keep publishing free blogs regarding same-sex marriage, no one will need to buy your book.

  3. T. J. Babson said, on April 10, 2013 at 10:51 am

    My first standard reply to this argument is that if different-sex marriage does not require us to accept incestuous marriage, then neither does accepting same-sex marriage. But, if accepting same-sex marriage entails that we have to accept incestuous marriage, the same would also apply to different-sex marriage.

    This is clearly an appeal to tradition.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 10, 2013 at 2:15 pm

      Not at all. The appeal to tradition has the following steps:

      1. X is a tradition.
      2. Therefore X is correct.

      I’m obviously not doing that.

      • T. J. Babson said, on April 10, 2013 at 5:51 pm

        Your argument works like this:

        1) Traditional marriage is between a man and a woman and does not permit incest.

        2) It is OK to expand the concept of marriage to same sex couples because there is no valid reason not to (tradition be damned).

        3) It is not OK to extend the concept of marriage to incestuous couples because traditional marriage does not permit these marriages.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 10, 2013 at 6:37 pm

          You have my argument completely wrong.

          Here is the text you made reference to: “My first standard reply to this argument is that if different-sex marriage does not require us to accept incestuous marriage, then neither does accepting same-sex marriage. But, if accepting same-sex marriage entails that we have to accept incestuous marriage, the same would also apply to different-sex marriage.”

          More formally and with more detail, here is the reasoning in this text.

          P1: DSM and SSM are analogous in regards to the matter of incest.
          Conclusion: On the condition that accepting DSM does not require us to accept IM, then accepting SSM does not require us to accept IM.

          P1: DSM and SSM are analogous in regards to the matter of incest.
          Conclusion: On the condition that SSM does require us to accept IM, then accepting DSM doe require us to accept IM.

          As I point out in the post, the first premise can be defeated by showing that DSM and SSM are not analogous in this regard and I address this matter at length.

          At no point to I make an appeal to tradition in making my own argument. I never claim that incest is wrong because it goes against tradition. I argue against it based on harm.

          If incest creates no harm at all, then there would seem to be no rational grounds on which to make it illegal or to regard it as immoral.

          • T. J. Babson said, on April 10, 2013 at 6:46 pm

            Imagine two sisters who never married and have lived together for many years. I think there were two like this in the Waltons.

            Imagine that they want to get married so that they get the legal protections, etc. available to all other married people.

            Why would you possibly have a problem with this?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 12, 2013 at 8:38 am

              You’ll note that my position has been that marriage should be divided into three categories: religious marriage (to be handled by the various faiths but would have no legal status), legal marriage (which handles all the legal and financial contracts) and love marriage (which is declared between individual but has no legal status). I have also advocated having the legal and financial aspects of marriage become general legal/financial options that can be entered into with any person. For example, each person gets an insurance slot, an inheritance slot, a tax slot, and so on. So, the two sisters could sign legal contracts that establish all the desired legal and financial relationships without the need for them to get married. As another example, if Billy-Bob wanted to assign the hospital visitation rights to his hunting buddy Miguel, then he would be free to do so.

              My argument has been that fairness would require that a person be able to enter into such contracts as they will, with the limit of being able to have no more than one person per legal slot. Limiting these rights to marriage partners seems to be unwarranted-mostly just appeals to tradition and the accumulations of habit.

              But, it should be noted, that my marriage crushed me financially so my view of the institution is rather tainted at this point. I still believe in love, but consider marriage to be primarily an economic contract that is irrational and unfair. But that could just be the cruel sting of losing most of my stuff and being emotionally damaged talking.🙂

      • T. J. Babson said, on April 10, 2013 at 5:53 pm

        “I’m obviously not doing that.”

        Actually, you are.

        1) Traditional marriage does not permit incest.

        2) Therefore incest should not be permitted in same sex marriages.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 10, 2013 at 6:39 pm

          That is not my argument. My point is that the incest gambit does not seem to work as an argument against allowing same sex marriage. That is, if someone argues that we cannot allow SSM because it will lead to IM, my point is that this would also apply to DSM. This is because if SSM entails IM, then so does DSM. There is no appeal to tradition here at all.

          • WTP said, on April 12, 2013 at 9:46 pm

            You will note that Mike reserves the right to cast the ideas of others, even the ponderings of Supreme Court Justices, in the light of his choosing, however any rebroadcast, retransmission, or other use of The Ideas Of Mike (TM) that in any way make Mike appear to be wrong are not The Ideas Of Mike. So sayeth Mike. It’s obvious. You are completely wrong. No question about it. Got it TJ?

  4. ajmacdonaldjr said, on April 10, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    Gay Marriage and the Breakdown of Moral Argument: A commentary by Fr. Barron – http://youtu.be/CYJ9BOcOxy8

  5. John said, on April 12, 2013 at 1:26 am

    I find your reaction here to be quite similar to your response in the prostitution thread – a topic that was great to discuss for a while until it went completely off the rails.

    Once again you appear to be confronted with an issue that you find personally repugnant, but can offer no compelling moral argument to match your revulsion. Here it is not paid sex workers, but family members getting the jiggy on and you are stuck in the doldrums. Since finding arguments appears to be your job, I can understand how this could be a little disconcerting.

    Although I am firmly on the side of the rights of consenting adults to do what they want as long as they don’t hurt anyone else, perhaps I can offer a weak argument that may salve your dissonance and is the most persuasive anti argument I’ve found that the anti-everythings are able to summon .

    Speeding tickets.

    We all like to speed. And there is nothing intrinsically wrong with driving. Race car drivers do it all the time. And speeding is relative too. Is 10 over the limit speeding? Most cops will give it a pass. How about 40? When does reckless endangerment start?

    If you are on a closed track where you can only hurt yourself, and you are aware of the risks, there is nothing wrong with that risk taking; the pain of failure is yours alone. (although in Canada you could be putting up our taxes if you paralyze yourself)

    But when you take on an innocent passenger – or a passenger who may think they know the risks, but in reality mis-apprehends the magnitude of the mistake that they are about to make, then your selfish thrills can hurt someone else.

    The “society has a right to protect stupid people” argument because society has a right to defend itself from threats and stupid people are just as much a part of society as smart people are.

    In discussing incest you cover the harm aspect. I would argue – without a lot of enthusiasm, mind you, that since there is a potential for harm, society has a right to protect those who may be harmed from those who care only for themselves.

    I don’t think that you could use the same harm argument against same-sex marriage – there is no risk to be found no matter how hard you search.

    Hopefully some libertarian will come along and tear this potential for harm against stupid people argument to shreds, as I really feel far more comfortable on their side of the ring and don’t want to have to stop seeing my favorite hooker.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 12, 2013 at 8:53 am

      John,

      Your criticism of me is actually the same one I present of myself. As I noted, while I find incest “icky”, in cases that involve no harms (that is, those that do not involve molestation, rape, coercion, and so on), then I would seem to have no moral argument against such cases. After all, if the specific act of incest has no harmful consequences at all, it would be rather difficult to argue that it is wrong. That said, those who base their ethics on moral rules rather than consequences could make such a case. Any Kantians out there who are willing to take a shot at this?

      Doing a bit of psychological analysis of why I feel revulsion at incest, I suspect that it is a spillover effect. To be specific, all the cases of incest I have personally heard of involve people who were molested and abused by relatives. When I think of incest, I picture a crying friend telling me that her uncle assaulted her when she was a child. As such, I have a negative mental association with incest. I suppose there could be loving, consensual incestuous relationships between adults-but I am unaware of any. Of course, I don’t have any interest in the sex-lives of other people-unless they are engaged in harming others, it is no business of mine.

      • John said, on April 16, 2013 at 3:27 am

        I can understand your ‘spillover’ effect, but think that it is something to really be guarded about.

        You see people arguing about same-sex marriage and bringing in all manner of extraneous topics such as pedophilia and bestiality. I think sometimes doing this is deliberate, but I can’t accept that it always is. Probably there is a large percentage of the population who find something ‘icky’ – can’t put their finger on why so they create false demons to exorcise. Not so much a deliberate straw man as a subconscious one.

        Since university was hundreds of years ago and I had forgotten about Kant et al, I did a google search for Kant and incest.

        The first article that was returned was kind of interesting:
        http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~jgreene/GreeneWJH/Greene-KantSoul.pdf

        It includes the following:
        “Jonathan Haidt applies these psychological lessons to the study of moral
        judgment in his infl uential paper, “The Emotional Dog and Its Rational
        Tail: A Social Intuitionist Approach to Moral Judgment” (Haidt, 2001). He
        argues that for the most part moral reasoning is a post hoc affair: We decide
        what’s right or wrong on the basis of emotionally driven intuitions, and
        then, if necessary, we make up reasons to explain and justify our judgments. Haidt concedes that some people, some of the time, may actually
        reason their way to moral conclusions, but he insists that this is not the
        norm”

        • biomass2 said, on April 16, 2013 at 9:31 am

          I believe those “extraneous topics”, whether they arise from “the icky factor” or from biased intent, provide a gentle nudge down the slippery slope. TJ and Magus discuss the slope (4/15 11:01pm, below)

  6. T. J. Babson said, on April 12, 2013 at 6:28 am

    Since we have thrown out tradition, why do we still believe that sex is necessarily part of marriage? Lots of married couples don’t have sex, just like lots don’t have children.

    So, sex between family members could still be illegal. What would then be the rationale for forbidding them to marry?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 12, 2013 at 10:45 am

      I haven’t thrown out tradition-I have merely pointed out that appealing to tradition is a fallacy. If there are reasons in support of what is a tradition, then those reasons can be advanced independently of the fact that the tradition is a tradition. For example, running is a tradition for me, but the fact that it is a tradition does not entail that running is good. Fortunately, there are a multitude of reasons as to why running is good for a person.

      So, if there are good reasons other than tradition as to why sex is necessarily part of marriage, they would still apply. But, as you note, married couples do not always have sex and a sexless marriage is still regarded as marriage (as far as I know, their is no requirement for X amount of sex to maintain married status).

      If family members wished to engage in legal contracts specifying relationships like insurance benefits and so on, I would agree with that option. I’ve argued on several occasions in favor of the freedom and right to engage in such legal contracts with other people. While people could buy into the standard marriage package (the bundle, as it were) it makes sense to offer people the chance to select the contracts on a piece by piece basis. I’m also concerned about the state imposing into the realm of marriage-darn nanny state…

      • WTP said, on April 12, 2013 at 9:38 pm

        [edit] Exceptions


        Since false ideas tend to be rooted out over time, the persistence of an idea can provide some tentative evidence for its credibility.
        An appeal to common practice can be valid if the cost of abandoning the practice or switching to an alternative outweighs the benefits of doing so. For example, re-defining the direction of the flow of current in electrical circuits to match the direction of the flow of electrons might aid education by reducing confusion, but doing so would come with the significant cost of re-writing text books and translating any scientific material that covered the topic.

        http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Appeal_to_tradition#Exceptions

      • WTP said, on April 15, 2013 at 6:26 am

        It should also be noted that Mike’s one- person relationship slot is not anything the regulars here, with the possible exception of AJ, would object to. The genesis of this discussion is the possibility that the Supreme Court could throw the meaning of marriage open to nearly any definition. Obfuscate and declare victory. Sophistry.

        Also, perhaps I missed it, but does Mike offer any reason to outlaw poligamy? Aside from appeal to tradition, which itself could go either way, is there a justification? There is likely a better argument for poligamy than SSM.

        • T. J. Babson said, on April 15, 2013 at 7:56 am

          I think Mike probably undervalues the importance of tradition in holding a society together.

          • WTP said, on April 15, 2013 at 11:58 am

            While its importance in holdin society together, there is hubris in casually dismissing what has evolved over millennia. And again, he dodged the real issue here by making it about something we all mostly agree upon.

          • Magus said, on April 15, 2013 at 11:01 pm

            TJ. Absolutely. Many intellectuals do not understand the subtleties of society. They see civilizations as math equations. The problem is, they do not, and cannot, possess all the data. By the way, The slippery slope is not a fallacy. It is human psychology. It is real. Logic does not prevent its existance.

            • Magus said, on April 15, 2013 at 11:02 pm

              *existence

            • T. J. Babson said, on April 16, 2013 at 6:08 am

              “The slippery slope is not a fallacy. It is human psychology. It is real. Logic does not prevent its existence.”

              Excellent point. Human psychology and societal change have their own dynamics. Slippery slopes are real, and you can see politicians always trying to get us on one. (“Who can be against a few common sense measures…”)

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 17, 2013 at 8:06 pm

              The slippery slope is a fallacy. I’m not sure what is meant by ” It is human psychology. It is real. Logic does not prevent its existence.” If what is meant is “people have a tendency to accept slippery slope fallacies as good logic”, then sure.

            • biomass2 said, on April 16, 2013 at 9:00 am

              TJ/Magus
              Yes, the slope is real. But , what about times when it’s used to support specious conclusions and arouse unfounded fears that prevent us from reaching common ground solutions?

              The slippery slope of the end of days has been a matter of some interest for some time now. There’s a real slope there somewhere, but is anyone on here concerned about it?
              And speaking of end of days, how about climate change?. Many who are disagree with climate change/ global warming science feel it’s part of a plot to end progress in the western world. Those who believe climate change exists gaze down the other side of the slope and see a calamitous conclusion to our earthly existence if something isn’t done.

            • biomass2 said, on April 16, 2013 at 9:45 am

              “who disagree”, not “who are disagree”
              MAGUS, I’m doing this for you, because you corrected your spelling (above). Please don’t do that unless it’s absolutely necessary; I’ll be typing amendments for most of my replies. . .😦

            • WTP said, on April 16, 2013 at 9:01 pm

              Mike worries that if he lets just one slippery slope argument stand, before you know it all of them will become acceptable.

            • biomass2 said, on April 17, 2013 at 10:27 am

              My concern is that far too many in this “constitutional republic based on a representative democracy” are unaware that a concept like “the slippery slope fallacy” even exists. Those blissful individuals are more likely to become the willing prey of the scum who employ the fallacy to support specious conclusions and arouse the unfounded fears that make mutually agreeable conclusions very difficult to achieve.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 17, 2013 at 8:10 pm

              People do find the slippery slope fallacy very seductive-it works very well with the psychological biases that people commonly possess. Even I can feel the pull of the slope as it beckons me to be afraid of something.

            • biomass2 said, on April 17, 2013 at 3:01 pm

              There are plenty of opinionators—intellectuals and others— in the major media, in chatrooms, on blogs, in bars , in churches, etc.
              Do any of them “understand the subtleties of society”? Do they “possess all the data”? I don’t. Do you? Of course not.
              But “the slippery slope argument”, if it is being used ” to support specious conclusions and arouse unfounded fears that make mutually agreeable conclusions very difficult to achieve” is just a very feeble gimmick.
              What supports the claim—pure opinion or recognized fact?
              Here’s a good article:
              http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Slippery_slope

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 17, 2013 at 8:03 pm

              Wouldn’t intellectuals understand the subtleties better than folks who are not intellectuals? Unless you are using “intellectual” to mean “pseudo-intellectual.”

            • biomass2 said, on April 17, 2013 at 8:18 pm

              The difference is, Michael, you can feel the slope beckoning you. Those who have never been introduced to the slippery seductress succumb all to easily to her attractions.

            • Magus said, on April 21, 2013 at 2:59 pm

              Mike, no I do not mean only that people accept the slippery slope. I mean that it is human tendancy to continue on to logical conclusions, at least what they think is logical. For instance, the argument that heroin should be legal because alcohol is , is an example. There are many examples of instances in which the slippery slope led to disaster. The Holocaust for example. “Necessary”, is not a key aspect of the slippery slope *psychology*”. What is most important is that people can use logic to continually expand certain things. Unintended consequences and Black Swans, in many cases, cause problems at some point.

              Magus

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm

              “I mean that it is human tendancy to continue on to logical conclusions”

              That would, in general, not be the slippery slope fallacy-if, by “logical conclusion” you mean one that is adequately supported by the premises.

              “at least what they think is logical.”

              That is another matter. People often think the illogical is logical-hence the abundance of fallacies.

              “For instance, the argument that heroin should be legal because alcohol is , is an example.”

              That is probably a slippery slope-at least if one just goes from alcohol right to heroin.

              “There are many examples of instances in which the slippery slope led to disaster. The Holocaust for example. “Necessary”, is not a key aspect of the slippery slope *psychology*”. What is most important is that people can use logic to continually expand certain things. Unintended consequences and Black Swans, in many cases, cause problems at some point.”

              Sure-one thing does lead to another. As long as the argument for the claim is such that the premises adequately support the conclusion, there is no fallacy.

            • biomass2 said, on April 21, 2013 at 7:42 pm

              Ignore the possibility of a Black Swan, and you can be blind-sided by reality. Or, believe there’s a Black Swan around every corner, and you’re Chicken little. With the slope, the best one can do is be educated about slippery slopes. At least, be aware that they may exist in reality, or as a fallacy, depending largely on the quality of thinking backing them up.
              I like your statement “I mean that it is human tendancy to continue on to logical conclusions, at least what they think is logical.” Especially telling is the phrase ” what they THINK is logical”.
              You also write “There are many examples of instances in which the slippery slope led to disaster.” I would add that there are many examples of instances in which the slippery slope has led absolutely nowhere. And some cases where it has led to something good. Whether the slope has been disastrous , good, or totally meaningless is mostly in the eyes of the beholders.

      • ajmacdonaldjr said, on April 15, 2013 at 8:02 am

        Could we say that since the main purpose of marriage is, in general, the raising of children, marriage should be limited to those who, in general and by nature, can reproduce? And that this is why marriage has traditionally been between and limited to a man and a women?

        • John said, on April 16, 2013 at 12:01 am

          I don’t think that it has been established that the purpose of marriage is the raising of children has it? The purpose of SEX is reproduction, the instincts of a mother are for protection of an infant, the instincts of a male are for the protection of his “possessions”, but marriage is something else.

          Historically, women were passed from father to suitor like possessions. Very, very recently in human history we have become enlightened and see women as equals rather than chattels in a marriage

          In the past 100 years we have completely redefined marriage to be a love relationship where two people commit to each other, to love and support each other.

          So the redefinition of marriage when we become enlightened to the needs of repression in our society is nothing new. Women experienced it less than 100 years ago.

          • biomass2 said, on April 16, 2013 at 9:19 am

            I’ve often wondered: If the purpose of sex is reproduction, why was it “designed” to be so damn pleasurable, even when one has no reproductive intent? Why, o why, couldn’t the impulse to get one’s rocks off shut down naturally when reproduction was no longer necessary? When one’s mate is no longer capable of reproduction, for example?
            Generally non-humans reproduce more prolifically than humans. Termites do it–a lot. What’s the relationship between sex, pleasure, and reproduction for butterflies?

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 17, 2013 at 8:04 pm

            John,

            True-marriage gets redefined as society shifts. For example, the typical marriage of the 1950s is rather different from that of today in many ways (both in terms of laws and practices).

          • WTP said, on April 17, 2013 at 9:17 pm

            In the past 100 years we have completely redefined marriage to be a love relationship where two people commit to each other, to love and support each other.

            It’s not specific to the last 100 years. Love and marriage have been tied together throughout various cultures through history. Granted, there’s a wax and wane, but to say that we have “completely redefined” it in the last 100 years is hyperbole.

            • John said, on April 19, 2013 at 12:34 am

              True, I agree that you can find examples throughout history. And you can find examples of very oppressive views of marriage in other cultures today.

              But I was referring to ‘our’ culture – a bit dangerous on the international internet – in ‘our’ point in time.

              Even a few decades ago it was a major issue if a girl didn’t have someone to ‘give her away’

            • WTP said, on April 19, 2013 at 6:35 am

              Understand. Not picking a nit but perspective is also important.

  7. ajmacdonaldjr said, on April 15, 2013 at 8:03 am

    The gay community isn’t happy with legal contracts (civil unions) not with private with “love marriages”, because these are not recognized in our society as marriages.

    “Marriage” mean full acceptance by church, state, society, and equality.

    The gay activists will never be happy until everyone in America says “Homosex marriage is the same as or equal to heterosex marriage, if not superior to it.”


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