A Philosopher's Blog

The Polygamy Argument & Same-Sex Marriage

Posted in Ethics, Law, Philosophy, Politics, Relationships/Dating by Michael LaBossiere on April 19, 2013
Wasatch Polygamy Porter

(Photo credit: Dave77459)

One of the many 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 polygamous marriage (or at least bigamy). 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 specific principle would require that, on the pain of inconsistency, we also accept polygamous marriage. This principle is typically some variant of the principle that a person should be able to marry any other person. Given that polygamous marriage is supposed to be 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 polygamous marriage, then neither does accepting same-sex marriage. But, if accepting same-sex marriage entails that we have to accept polygamous 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 polygamous marriage, then allowing a person to marry a member of the opposite sex would also allow polygamous marriage-albeit only to a member of the opposite sex. But, if the slide to polygamy 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 more than one person at a time. 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 polygamous marriage.

In light of the above, the polygamy gambit against same-sex marriage would seem to fail.  That is, the claim about the slide into polygamy that would supposedly result from legalizing same-sex marriage is unfounded.

There is, however, still an interesting question in regards to polygamy, namely the matter of whether or not it is wrong. After all, even if it could be shown that same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy, this would only be a problem is polygamy was actually wrong in some relevant way.

While polygamous marriage is not unheard of and there are also traditions of the practice, appealing to common practice or tradition to defend polygamy would obviously be fallacious. What is needed is a proper examination of the practice.

It is often the case that polygamy is condemned not directly because it is polygamy, but because of other factors associated with the specific sort of polygamy in question. For example, a culture that accepts polygamy might do so based on the view that women are inferior to men. In this case, it would not primarily be the polygamy that is problematic, but the way women are regarded and treated. As another example, polygamy might be practiced with under-aged and coerced brides (as has been seen in certain cults in the United States). In this case, the main concerns would seem to be with the coercion and age.  In these and similar cases, the main point of concern would seem to not be that a man has many wives, but the treatment of the women.  Thus, the moral problem with polygamy might not be a moral problem with the polygamy aspect, but the context of the polygamy.

Let it be supposed that polygamy was occurring in a situation devoid of such other negative factors. That is, those involved were not coerced, underage, or mistreated.  The question would then be this: what is it about having multiple spouses itself that is wrong, if anything?

It might, obviously enough, be countered that any polygamous nature would be defective. For example, it could be argued that polygamy, by its very nature, must involve an imbalance in marital power (usually the male over the females) or, at the very least, it would always result in some of the spouses being denied the full benefits of marriage (that is, a single man could not attend to the emotional and physical needs of multiple women).

Naturally, it can easily be pointed out that critics of “traditional” marriage have pointed to the traditional imbalance in power between men and women and women being denied the full benefits of marriage. As such, these defects could be defects in marriage rather than a defect specific to polygamy-a polygamous marriage might merely multiple the disparities.

It is worth noting that these defects seem to arise from polygamy of the traditional sort: a male possessing a harem of wives. As such it would seem worthwhile to consider various forms of non-traditional polygamy, especially one involving multiple spouses of different sexes. Naturally, there could be different-sex polygamy of this sort (the marriage holds between the different sexes but not between the same sexes) or same-sex polygamy or bi-sexual polygamy. The notion of an extended marriage (with co-wives and co-husbands) was considered in science fiction by Robert Heinlein and he seemed to regard it as a potentially healthy and effective system of marriage. Of course, the fictional consideration of this matter could, at best, be considered a thought experiment. However, Heinlein did note the advantages for children (which he seemed to be regarded as of great importance in the context of marriage) in terms of the number of parents available to provide care and support.

Obviously enough, we have no real evidence of how a polygamous marriage between free and equal spouses would actually work-we just have our unfree and unequal world to draw upon for examples.  However, it should, perhaps, not be dismissed out of hand or regarded as inherently defective.

In response to the obvious question, I would not want multiple wives. I failed with one wife and have no desire to multiply my failure.

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  1. ajmacdonaldjr said, on April 19, 2013 at 10:03 am

    I don’t see this as a “slippery slope”, I see this as a “free-for-all”.

    Since the definition of the word “marriage” is now open, we can now redefine the word “marriage” to mean whatever we want.

    Polygamy, polyandry, and experiments in living (Mill) should be allowed as “marriages.”

    What possible standard could you or anyone use to tell me I could not or should not be in a polygamous marriage?

    Are you a theocrat? A moralist? A hater? An intolerant bigot?

    What possible standard could you or anyone use to tell people the age of consent for marriage is 18? or 16? or 14? or 12?

    You have at least two unexamined presuppositions, which appear to be based upon assumed traditions:

    One: only two people can marry, which is a Christian presupposition, based upon the New Testament;

    Two: the age of consent must be above a certain age, which is a modern presupposition, based upon the artificial construct of “childhood” (Dewey).

    You are a modern, rational man living in postmodern, irrational times.

    For many years now we have been witnessing the deconstruction of modernism, along with its unexamined presuppositions.

    To the postmodernist, there are no universally applicable laws all people must be subjected too, such as natural law. To the postmodernist, everything is culturally based.

    In some cultures “marriage” = one man and one woman. In other cultures “marriage” = one man and many women. In some cultures “marriage” = one woman and many men. In some cultures “marriage” = one man and two bisexual women (=my personal favorite). In some cultures “marriage” = one woman and one woman.

    The postmodernist sees you as a white moralistic male who wishes to force others to adopt you unexamined modernist and religious presuppositions, which are intolerant and passe.

    My own position regarding “marriage” is (admittedly) one man and one woman for life, with divorce allowed only for “whoredom” (husband or wife), and my examined presupposition is based upon the words of Christ found in the New Testament (=biblical apriorism), which Jesus tied back to Genesis:

    “Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

    “And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality [=whoredom], and marries another, commits adultery.”

    “The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.” Matthew 19:1-11

    See: Postman – The Disappearance of Childhood – http://www.amazon.com/Disappearance-Childhood-Neil-Postman/dp/0679751661

    See: Grenz – A Primer on Postmodernism – http://www.amazon.com/Primer-Postmodernism-Stanley-J-Grenz/dp/0802808646/

    VIDEO – Post-Modernism: Deconstruction and Derrida Pt. 1 – http://youtu.be/Fs5Q0tYlVQc

  2. T. J. Babson said, on April 19, 2013 at 10:40 am

    1) Let’s stipulate that conventional same sex marriage is based on tradition, and that social inertia and the weight of tradition are really all that props it up.

    2) We have gone a long way toward knocking the legs of tradition out from under traditional marriage, and so it has become clear that very little is actually holding it up now.

    3) As gay marriage gains acceptance, there is reason to expect that other types of non traditional marriage will also gain acceptance with time.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 19, 2013 at 4:46 pm

      That would not be the slippery slope fallacy, given the assumptions in #1 and #2. However, even granting #1 and #2, the legalization of goat marriage would not follow.

  3. T. J. Babson said, on April 19, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Off topic, but very interesting to note how the Islamic motivation behind the Boston Marathon bombings is being played down in the press.

    Just imagine if these brothers were Tea Partiers instead of Muslims–that’s all we would hear about.

    • biomass2 said, on April 19, 2013 at 11:34 am

      When were the identities of the two suspects first revealed by authorities?
      The Muslim connection was being discussed on “CBS This Morning” this morning. They weren’t “playing it down”.

      • T. J. Babson said, on April 19, 2013 at 12:50 pm


        Bombing motive: Far from obvious

        Chechens have been locked for nearly two decades in a bitter, violent conflict against the Russian government. But why would two Chechen refugees harbor such anger toward the United States that they’d want to carry out a terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon?

        The answer is far from obvious, since the U.S. and Russia are often at odds on a wide variety of issues and the American officials regularly denounce the Russian Federation for engaging in human rights abuses, including in Chechnya.


        • biomass2 said, on April 19, 2013 at 2:40 pm

          Perhaps the media should speculate about the motivations of the terrorists? Members of what I like to think of as the drive-n media (those who believe themselves to be the “real” media) are constantly hammering the mainstream media for jumping to conclusions, speculating, just plain guessing . Limbaugh’s even came up with a phrase for them— “drive-by media”. Some of the media do jump, of course. Just look at the dolts Jon Stewart slammed mercilessly the other night.

          “. . .why would two Chechen refugees harbor such anger toward the United States that they’d want to carry out a terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon?” Hmm. . . Because they’re terrorists? Maybe Muslim terrorists? (That was brought up on CBS This Morning today, but it wasn’t presented as truth) Perhaps because they’re thugs? Because they’re crazy? Because their looking for notoriety and have a death wish?

          Why did Adam Lanza kill 23 kids? Because his mom was crazy? Because he was crazy? Here’s some speculation : He had a gun safe in his bedroom. Were some of mommy’s guns in the safe? Did she have to go into sonny’s bedroom to get one of her big guns? What kind response may have been triggered , if she she fondled her gun as he looked on? ”

          Let’s all speculate on these matters, and maybe Congress can assign some select committees to find whatever answers their political leanings at the time deem to be the truth.

        • biomass2 said, on April 19, 2013 at 2:52 pm

          Most recently on CBS (2:45pm) A relative of the living perp calls for him to turn himself in and proclaims loudly “. . .he puts to shame the entire Chechen ethnicity”. And likely, in the minds of some, the entire Muslim religion. . . And there’s another sort of shame.

          • T. J. Babson said, on April 19, 2013 at 3:27 pm

            Let’s also keep in mind that Chechans come from the Caucasus region and are therefore Caucasians.

            Islam is an ideology, not a race. Criticizing Islam is not racism.

            • biomass2 said, on April 19, 2013 at 4:44 pm

              TJ: “Islam is an ideology.”
              To put what you’ve written in perspective:

              David Satter/( Hudson Institute): “The ritual requirements or dogmatic assertions about history of a religion, however, are perfectly suitable for the construction of an ideology. The obligation in Islam to wage jihad, properly interpreted, can be made the basis of an ideology which treats waging war on unbelievers as the highest obligation of a Moslem and evaluates all actions in terms of the extent to which they support this sacred obligation. Other religions too have aspects that could become the material of an ideology. One example is the doctrine of the Jews as the “Chosen People.” Although this doctrine has never been used to justify the oppression of others, it could be.”
              emphasize the statement ” . . .properly interpreted, can be made the BASIS of an ideology. . . ” and “Other religions too have aspects that could become the material of an ideology.”

              Tawfik Hamid,/ (Islamic thinker and reformer): “. . .I see that having an ideology is not by itself the problem. For example, the ideology of the chosen people — as he mentioned — was not used to oppress others. It is the part of ideology that is used to oppress others, such as ‘violent Jihad’ in Islam that is actually causing the problem.”
              “. . .one of the main problems in traditional Islam is that the pillars of the religion [to say Non G-d other than Allah and Mohamed is the prophet of Allah, the 5 prayers, the obligatory tax (Zakkat), the fasting of Ramadan and the pilgrimage (Haj)] are rituals rather than moral values.”
              The “violent jihad” would be referring to Islamic Jihadists.

          • T. J. Babson said, on April 19, 2013 at 3:33 pm

            President Obama: “If there’s even one thing we can do, if there’s just one life we can save—we’ve got an obligation to try.”

            How many lives could we save if we just isolated ourselves from Islam? Just leave them alone and let them develop in their own way.

            • biomass2 said, on April 19, 2013 at 4:55 pm

              “Isolating ourselves from Islam”— whatever that may mean. How can that be achieved? We have a First Amendment that protects the “establishment of religion ” and “the free exercise thereof”.
              It’s every bit as important as the Second Amendment Obama was referring to in the statement you quoted. Actually, it could be argued that the First is more important, because it is, after all, the First—not the Second.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 19, 2013 at 4:59 pm

              The killing of Americans is done mostly by other Americans who are not Muslims. If all followers of Islam were exiled from the US and we retreated back behind our borders away from all contact with Islam, our overall death toll due to violence would drop very little.

              Let us reword your question:

              “How many lives could we save if we just isolated ourselves from gun owners? Just leave them alone and let them develop in their own way.”

            • WTP said, on April 20, 2013 at 8:38 pm

              The killing of Blacks is done mostly by Blacks. If all white people ceased contact with all Black people, the death rate amongst Blacks would drop very little.

            • Anonymous said, on April 21, 2013 at 12:17 am

              Mike, I was mainly thinking of the Muslims that we are killing. Or do these lives not count?

            • T. J. Babson said, on April 21, 2013 at 12:21 am

              Mike, I was mainly thinking of all the Muslims we have killed. Lots of innocents are dying every day.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 21, 2013 at 10:05 am

              Interesting point. Directly and indirectly we have brought death and injury to thousands of Muslims. So, perhaps they would be safer if we stayed away from them-sort of a self placed restraining order.

            • T. J. Babson said, on April 21, 2013 at 12:27 am

              “Isolating ourselves from Islam”— whatever that may mean.

              Easy. Stop interfering in the Middle east. No travel to/from Islamic countries. No student visas.

            • biomass2 said, on April 21, 2013 at 10:46 am

              I was referring to accomplishing that “isolation” within the borders of the US—hence my references to the First and Second Amendments.

            • biomass2 said, on April 21, 2013 at 10:54 am

              And the problem would not be visas or travel, but dealing with the several million Muslims who are American citizens (some of whom may be prone to radicalization) and their access to internet radical sources.

            • T. J. Babson said, on April 21, 2013 at 11:44 am

              biomass, do you remember the Prime Directive (or something like that) in Star Trek? The one that says the Federation is not supposed to interfere with other civilizations?

              I am proposing that we stop interfering with Islamic civilization.

            • biomass2 said, on April 21, 2013 at 12:45 pm

              Good suggestion—as long as they don’t “interfere” with ours. But, again, my original point concerned those already in the US as US citizens.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 21, 2013 at 2:16 pm

              Internment camps, as with the Japanese in WWII? I’m sure that would be totally constitutional.

            • T. J. Babson said, on April 21, 2013 at 2:23 pm

              I am advocating leaving them alone. “Leaving them alone” does not mean putting them in camps, it means leaving them alone.

            • biomass2 said, on April 21, 2013 at 4:13 pm

              TJ/ Do you mean something like ‘shunning’ as practiced in Old Order Amish churches–only society-wide?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 19, 2013 at 4:48 pm

      Has it been established that they were motivated by their interpretation of Islam?

      But, as you said, if they had murdered those people as a blow against being Taxed Enough Already, MSNBC would be going crazy.

      • biomass2 said, on April 19, 2013 at 5:05 pm

        In the minds of some, it was established firmly that they were Muslim believers, therefore they were motivated by Islam long before the video images were made public. Certainly If it had been Tea Partiers or White Supremacists, some would have had their own conclusions to jump to.
        Unfortunately, if you watch or read enough news or listen to enough political or religious BS, you’ve probably already noticed that whatever conclusions are jumped to, the leap is either too soon/ too far or too late/ too limited depending on the uncritical perspective.

      • T. J. Babson said, on April 21, 2013 at 12:29 am

        “Has it been established that they were motivated by their interpretation of Islam?”


        • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 21, 2013 at 10:06 am

          Evidence? One is dead, one cannot speak.

          • T. J. Babson said, on April 21, 2013 at 10:12 am

            How much evidence do you need? Start here in which Russia warns the US about Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

            New details about the brothers suspected of being behind the Boston Marathon have slowly trickled out today. Investigators are now focusing on a 2011 trip to Russia by the older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, where they believe he became radicalized by extremist groups in the north Caucasus region. Russia had asked the FBI to look into Tamerlan’s extremist ties, but the FBI’s investigation yielded nothing of note and after interviewing him, kept no tabs on him. “The F.B.I. did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign,” the FBI said in a statement.

            The FBI said Russia had asked for the investigation “based on information that he was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer, and that he had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups.”


            • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 21, 2013 at 12:52 pm

              The Russians seemed to be requesting info rather than warning. There is a difference. The Russians also apparently did not supply info about them.

              Also, from the same source: “The F.B.I. did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign,” the FBI said in a statement.

              So, we know the Russians inquired about one brother, but we do not know they acted from theological motivations.

            • T. J. Babson said, on May 1, 2013 at 9:16 am

              More evidence:

              The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sent a written warning about accused Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2012, long before pressure-cooker blasts killed three and injured hundreds, according to a senior Saudi government official with direct knowledge of the document.

              The Saudi warning, the official told MailOnline, was separate from the multiple red flags raised by Russian intelligence in 2011, and was based on human intelligence developed independently in Yemen.

              Citing security concerns, the Saudi government also denied an entry visa to the elder Tsarnaev brother in December 2011, when he hoped to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, the source said. Tsarnaev’s plans to visit Saudi Arabia have not been previously disclosed.


            • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 1, 2013 at 11:01 am

              Indeed it is more evidence. But, we need to know how many such letters the US gets each year and what percentage turn out to name people who engage in acts of terror.

              If such letters are reliable indicators of terrorists and the FBI ignored it, then they dropped the ball.

              We need to keep in mind that when we look backwards at the evidence it is rather different from looking at it before the fact.

              I’m fine with assigning blame where it belongs, but we need to be rational about it.

            • WTP said, on May 1, 2013 at 9:52 am

              From Ace of Spades:

              I find it quite remarkable that in the short span of 5 years we have evolved as a country from the era of presidents steering hurricanes to minority neighborhoods with Halliburton-controlled weather machines to the highest office in the land just being too darn complex for any one man to influence inconsequential subtleties like national security and intelligence gathering

            • biomass2 said, on May 1, 2013 at 10:17 am

              WTP: Did the MSM carry that hurricane-steering story? Somehow I missed it.

            • WTP said, on May 1, 2013 at 12:09 pm

              We need to keep in mind that when we look backwards at the evidence it is rather different from looking at it before the fact.

              Yes, as if Mike applies this same level of caution and reserve when the story is going the other way. Sophistry and intellectual dishonesty.

          • T. J. Babson said, on April 21, 2013 at 12:12 pm

            More evidence.

            His aunt, Maret Tsarnaeva, told reporters at a Toronto news conference that her nephew, who previously seemed to have little interest in religion, had recently begun to pray five times a day. He grew a beard and was vocal about religion and politics.

            Albrecht Ammon, 21, who has an apartment on the second floor of the house on Norfolk Street in Cambridge where Tsarnaev lived, said he recently had an argument in a pizza parlor with Tsarnaev about the Bible and American foreign policy.

            Ammon said Tsarnaev expressed the view that “the Bible is a cheap copy of the Koran” and that the United States goes to war based on the Bible. He also said that “in Afghanistan, most casualties are innocent bystanders killed by American soldiers,” according to Ammon, who is a senior at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, which Dzhokhar Tsarnaev attended.

            “It seemed like he didn’t have something against the American people,” recalled Ammon, “he had something against the American government, which baffles me with the marathon.”


            • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 21, 2013 at 2:40 pm

              Now that would be actual indirect evidence, assuming the aunt is a credible source.

              However, the question still remains as to the full motive of the attack. After all, the vast majority of Muslims are no more likely than the vast majority of Christians to engage in murder. The description of the older brother seems to indicate that he became embittered towards the United States. So, was his faith the cause of his attack, or was his turn to faith a result of his being embittered which also caused the attack?

            • WTP said, on May 1, 2013 at 9:41 am

              the vast majority of Muslims are no more likely than the vast majority of Christians to engage in murder.

              Note the obviously intentional obfuscation/language play. The subject isn’t simply murder, it’s TERRORISM. Sophistry.

      • T. J. Babson said, on April 21, 2013 at 9:46 am

        Here it is, in just a few paragraphs. So simple, really.

        Welcome to the phenomenon of global jihad. It is time to dispense with the illusion that we are safe from foreign threats because we have put, as President Obama repeatedly insisted during the last campaign, “al Qaeda on the path to defeat,” thanks to the death of Osama bin Laden and the drone-delivered thinning of the ranks of his lieutenants.

        The Chechen jihadists in Boston may or may not have been associated with, or even inspired by, bin Laden’s terror network. But in the days and weeks to come we are likely to discover that they identify with its goals: 1) imposing the supremacist Islamic doctrine of shariah – a totalitarian, brutally repressive and anti-Constitutional ideology – on the entire world, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. And 2) recreating a caliphate (or a similar theo-political entity) to rule according to that doctrine.

        The same is true of other violent jihadists of the Sunni and Shia stripes, including, respectively, the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia and the regime in Iran. Ditto the so-called non-violent Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, that organization – which is the mother-ship for virtually all modern Sunni jihadists – favors an approach better described as pre-violent: The Brotherhood is perfectly prepared to use violence when it will be effective. Until then, they will adopt other measures (which they call “civilization jihad”) to create conditions that would be conducive to the realization of the goals they share with all other Islamists.

        My preliminary read on the Brothers Tsarnaev is that they, too, were committed to the triumph of shariah. And whether they were associated with one or the other of these groups, factions, or sects, or if they were self-taught and operating alone, it seems likely that they embraced that doctrine’s requirement to wage jihad against infidels – something they evidently did with pressure-cooker improvised explosive devices near the Finish Line on Monday.

        Literally by the minute, we are learning more about their backgrounds and behavior. With luck, we will also know shortly whether they were aided by accomplices or organizational infrastructure that may still pose a threat.

        What we know already, however, is that there are perhaps hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of others like them around the world. Folks who believe that their god commands them to engage personally in holy war against the infidels and non-shariah-adherent Muslims (whom they call apostates).

        What is particularly worrying is that this is not a new revelation. We have been on notice of this fact since well before 9/11. And yet we have at times ignored it – or, in some cases, denied it assiduously. And that is not simply true of average Americans. It has been the widespread practice within administrations of both parties, beginning in earnest under George W. Bush and metastasizing greatly in the Obama presidency. (For a detailed treatment of how this has happened and why, see http://www.MuslimBrotherhoodinAmerica.com and The Muslim Brother in the Obama Administration http://www.horowitzfreedomcenter.org.)

        We have thus systematically violated one of the cardinal principles of warfare dating back at least to the ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tsu, who warned that you cannot defeat an enemy you do not know. Worse, we have allowed an enemy we could and should have known long ago to dictate to us what we are allowed to understand, think, and do about them.


        • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 21, 2013 at 10:10 am

          This is speculation. It might turn out they acted from religious motivations. However, the people who know them spoke mainly of their nationalism. What if their main motivation was political rather than theological? Do we start a global war on nationalism?

      • T. J. Babson said, on April 21, 2013 at 10:14 am

        “Has it been established that they were motivated by their interpretation of Islam? ”

        It is probably worth noting that “their interpretation of Islam” is shared by millions of others.

        • biomass2 said, on April 21, 2013 at 10:55 am

          In the US?

          • T. J. Babson said, on April 21, 2013 at 11:50 am

            Certainly not. I was mainly thinking about Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, etc. in which ideas involving Islamic supremacy are rampant.

            Do you remember when the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan? Why do you think they did this?

  4. T. J. Babson said, on April 19, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Quote of the day:

    Somehow it became a conventional view in contemporary American politics that it is non-urban conservatives who in every case have to accommodate their beliefs to a national culture created by people who live somewhere else. “They” must adjust on abortion, guns, school prayer, sexual mores and all the rest of it. Liberals, meanwhile, not only feel no need to concede anything but use the commanding heights of the press and academia to define anyone who dissents from their ever-evolving national culture as a political fringe obsessed with people, one might say, who aren’t like them.


    • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 19, 2013 at 4:50 pm

      What is the case for that claim?

      • T. J. Babson said, on April 20, 2013 at 1:00 pm

        Your blog would be a good place to start 🙂

      • biomass2 said, on April 20, 2013 at 5:09 pm

        Should we study the replies of the “non-urban [and urban as well] conservatives” on this blog?

        • T. J. Babson said, on April 21, 2013 at 12:30 am

          Of course. Do you think there are any conservatives on this blog besides Magus?

    • biomass2 said, on April 19, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      I’d like to know when the”clinging” Henninger refers to began. And I’d like to know why he seemed to gloss over the portion of Obama’s statement that referred to ‘antipathy to people who aren’t like them.” That referred clearly, in my mind, to racism. Pennsylvania was as good a place as any to make that statement. I believe a stuffed monkey appeared at a primary rally or two that year. I wouldn’t want to speculate about the racist overtones that may have arisen at PA primary events for fear my speculation may grossly underestimate the ugliness of it all.

      So the upshot is that liberals “cling” to gun control and conservatives “cling” to guns? Are guns the opposite of “gun control” or are guns with NO controls the opposite of “gun control”?
      That liberals “cling” to abortion rights and conservatives cling to the anti-abortion fight?
      And the case for the claim? It’s claimed in the WSJ—part of the self-proclaimed “fair-minded media”.

  5. domy said, on April 22, 2013 at 8:53 am

    there is no slippery slope argument but a fact. The same gay marriage proponents now admit that the next step will be the unions of more than two people.
    Just listen the ‘father of the gay marriage’ in the Netherlands (at 3:30)

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 22, 2013 at 3:01 pm

      That is a rather hasty generalization from what one person says. Why think that he represents the views of most supporters or that what he says shall come to pass?

  6. […] The Polygamy Argument & Same-Sex Marriage (aphilosopher.wordpress.com) […]

  7. ajmacdonaldjr said, on May 1, 2013 at 9:04 am

    The Telegraph – 05 Aug 2009 – “Woman getting married to fairground ride”

    “Amy Wolfe, a US church organist who claims to have objectum sexuality, a condition that makes sufferers attracted to inanimate objects, plans to marry a magic carpet fairground ride…”

    See: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/5972632/Woman-getting-married-to-fairground-ride.html?fb

    • biomass2 said, on May 1, 2013 at 10:06 am

      You stated in your first reply above that “. . .we can now redefine the word “marriage” to mean whatever we want.” Your example proves that.

      But I think the traditional definition has been loosely interpreted for many, many years.Here’s a recent example.
      Gentlemen, man your vacuums.
      This IS better than same sex marriage. Of course, similar murders will likely take place in two-daddy and two-mommy families? That’s one of the glories of marriage.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 1, 2013 at 10:55 am

      That is a thing?

      Well, if she is insane, then she cannot really give proper consent. If she is sane, but just odd, then best wishes to the couple.

      • WTP said, on May 1, 2013 at 11:49 am

        but just odd, then best wishes to the couple
        Fun to be glib, but the devil is in the details. This is where the ivory tower dodges responsibility for the absurdities that ensue from their refusal to understand the law of unintended consequences. Remembering Dickens’ observation, in Jarndyce v. Jarndyce that “the law in an ass”, does the manufacurer of the marry-go-round, or whatevs, have the same legal standing as a mother-in-law/father-in-law if the woman dies and the fairground equipment is scrapped? If the “wife” fails to maintain the equipment in working order is she guilty of the same kind of neglect a woman married to an invalid would be? I know these are absurd questions, but this is the fertile (manure) ground where lawyers bloom. Ah, but the high priests of philosophy will have wiped their hands and moved on. Not to be concerned with such little, petty things that arise from the consequences of their pronouncements. Meanwhile the taxpayers pick up the tab for the court costs and those with legitimate legal concerns have one more clog in their way of reasonably speedy justice.

        Of course there is no slippery slope, so never mind.

        • biomass2 said, on May 1, 2013 at 1:20 pm

          I can’t think of too many real-life acts that do not entail unintended consequences. If we’d all tailor our lives to eliminate unintended consequences, we wouldn’t act on our own or interact with others. And, as I’ve said before, the slippery slope exists. Successful avoidance of “unintended consequences” and potential slippery slopes would require us all to dedicate our lives to a life-consuming process. The consequence of that process, unintended or not, would likely be that life as we know it would come to a standstill.

          The ‘slippery slope fallacy’ , as opposed to the slippery slope, is something specific. It’s much easier to avoid, because it’s a fallacy and it’s not hard to recognize.

  8. ajmacdonaldjr said, on May 1, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    As a Catholic, we believe “marriage” means, among many other things: “no divorce”. After all, what is “marriage” if one doesn’t vow: “until death so us part”?

    Couple Who Fought for Gay Marriage Files for Divorce

    “In 2003, Julie and Hillary Goodridge were among seven gay couples in Massachusetts that sued for the right to marry. The lawsuit led to the historic court ruling legalizing gay marriage in the state. Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.”

    See: http://www.totaldivorce.com/news/articles/society/first-gay-couple-married-file-for-divorce.aspx

    • biomass2 said, on May 1, 2013 at 4:36 pm

      Fodder for discussion of your reply
      “As a Catholic, we believe ‘marriage’ means, among many other things: ‘no divorce’.”
      The divorce rate among US Catholics is 21%.
      Given your example of the Goodridges, my only conclusion is that we should outlaw marriage among Catholics because 21% of them may get divorced.

  9. ajmacdonaldjr said, on May 2, 2013 at 6:14 am

    The thing about the Catholic Church, marriage, and divorce is this: Catholic’s who are married cannot divorce, because the Church doesn’t grant decrees of divorce and doesn’t recognize decrees of divorce granted by the state. People may disagree with the Church on many things but it does hold a very high view of marriage.

    I am old enough to remember when people had to go to Nevada or Mexico for a divorce. A divorce was very hard to get in those days, because the states believed marriage was for life. California’s no fault divorce was the biggest blow to marriage ever.

    I don’t think people today even know what marriage is, which is why the term is up for redefinition. Different and same sex marriage that permits divorce isn’t marriage, in the traditional, Christian sense of the term.

    As I recall from my studies, the Catholic Church didn’t dogmatically define marriage as a sacrament until the 12th century. Until that time marriage was in the hands of the state.

    The Church’s seemingly outdated stance on the issues of birth control and abortion are also tied to it’s seemingly outdated stance on marriage, meaning: if a couple is going to be married the must be open to new life, which comes from the union of woman and man.

    Like I said, we may disagree with the Church but it does have a high view of marriage which seems to uphold the actual meaning and purpose of the term “marriage”. The Evangelicals defending “traditional marriage” think divorce and birth control are okay, which is not a traditional view of marriage at all, making them appear pretty foolish, to me.

  10. […] The Polygamy Argument & Same-Sex Marriage(aphilosopher.wordpress.com) […]

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