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View Poll Results: should incest be legal?

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  • yes (between consenting adults)

    23 24.73%
  • yes, but only if they get sterilized

    4 4.30%
  • no!

    58 62.37%
  • not sure

    8 8.60%
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Thread: should incest between brothers and sisters be legal?

  1. #76
    Internal nebulae TheFifthElement's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sweets America View Post
    I don't agree however with your argument about father abusing daughters, because if we follow such arguments, we end up not doing anything because of 'what ifs'. It's just like people who want to ban the veil to protect those who are forced to wear it.
    Oh, I didn't say it was an argument against legalisation, I said it was something that worried me, which is different entirely.

    Quote Originally Posted by SweetsAmerica
    And, about total freedom being cahos, that might be the case. But again, I don't see the problem with doing something which doesn't harm anyone else.
    this suggests that harm is something which can be empirically measured, but sadly life isn't as straightforward as that. How do you know if something you are doing is causing someone harm, or will cause someone harm in the future?
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  2. #77
    Suzerain of Cost&Caution SleepyWitch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFifthElement View Post
    this suggests that harm is something which can be empirically measured, but sadly life isn't as straightforward as that. How do you know if something you are doing is causing someone harm, or will cause someone harm in the future?
    so how can the judges and courts measure harm empirically? they are only humans, too? I suppose they probably can't and this is why they are often over-protective as in "better safe than sorry". In general, I agree with this principle, but we should not delude ourselves that it was based on empirical measurements or logic.

  3. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFifthElement View Post
    Oh, I didn't say it was an argument against legalisation, I said it was something that worried me, which is different entirely.
    Ok, then I think I misunderstood. Sorry.


    this suggests that harm is something which can be empirically measured, but sadly life isn't as straightforward as that. How do you know if something you are doing is causing someone harm, or will cause someone harm in the future?
    I really don't see which kind of harm it would do if my brother and I decided to sleep together, or my father and I, or even my dog and I (but here it's more tricky cause I cannot ask my dog for his consent, so let's drop that example). The only harm would be a moral one. I agree that it would certainly cause disgust in my family or for other people. It would cause questionning and incomprehension, because we all have been raised with the idea that it was wrong. It would make me feel strange to sleep with my brother too, but if I detach myself from the world I am in, I don't see anything wrong with it if we're both ok with that and if it makes us happy.

    But if you consider all the moral harm things would do, you wouldn't do anything. It's not bad though, it's just another way of doing things and put morality first. This attitude is as honorable as any other one, it is just not the one I would choose.

    If we worried about moral harm, homosexuals would not sleep together cause it would harm the religious ones, and the religious one would not say anything bad about homosexuals cause it would harm the homosexuals. I would not move to the US cause it would make my family sad...etc.

    My attitude here is one of openness, that's all. Trying not to judge. There is a moment when I say to hell with what people think, because this is MY life, My body, My choices, and those are the liberties I am trying to have.

  4. #79
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Wow, what a raging debate. Sorry i had to miss this last night. I had a personal emergency and couldn't get on to lit net. And what's a debate without Virgil sticking his two cents in.

    There are a number of points to respond to, but so many that it will be impossible to respond to them all. First, I think Wikipedia has a very intersting entry on incest. You can read it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incest. But let me pull out some highlights.

    Virtually all societies have some form of incest avoidance.[1][2] The incest taboo is one of the most common of all taboos. Most modern societies have legal or social restrictions on closely consanguineous marriages.[3] Although not universal, incest constitutes a cultural taboo in most current nations and many past societies,[4] with legal penalties in some places. In some societies, like Ancient Egypt, brother–sister, father–daughter and mother–son relations were practiced.[5][6]

    Which family members constitute those covered by the incest prohibition is determined by the society in which the persons live. Some societies consider it to include only those related by birth or those who live in the same household; other societies further include those related by adoption, marriage, or clan.[7]
    Some researchers hypothesize that humans have a kin recognition ability that functions in part to enable incest avoidance between close relatives, thereby protecting the gene pool of the family or tribe from excessive damage by inbreeding; and, that this kin recognition system may form a biological basis for social and psychological prohibitions against incest. [12]

    Inbreeding leads to an increase in homozygosity (the same allele at the same locus on both members of a chromosome pair). This occurs because close relatives are much more likely to share the same alleles than unrelated individuals. This is especially important for recessive alleles that happen to be deleterious, which are harmless and inactive in a heterozygous pairing but, when homozygous, can cause serious developmental defects. Such offspring have a much higher chance of death before reaching the age of reproduction, leading to what biologists call inbreeding depression, a measurable decrease in fitness due to inbreeding among populations with deleterious recessives. Recessive genes, which can contain various genetic problems, appear more often in the offspring of procreative couplings whose members both have the same gene. For example, the child of persons who are both hemophiliac has a nearly 100% chance of having hemophilia.
    Psychology
    Presumably because of the genetic harm done, animals inbreed only in extremely unusual circumstances: major population bottlenecks and forced artificial selection by animal husbandry. Pusey & Worf (1996) and Penn & Potts (1999) both found evidence that some species possess evolved psychological aversions to inbreeding, via kin-recognition heuristics.

    Evolutionary psychologists have argued that humans should possess similar psychological mechanisms. The Westermarck effect, that children who are raised together during the first five to ten years of life have inhibited sexual desire toward one another, is one strong piece of evidence in favor of this. In what is now a key study of the Westermarck hypothesis, anthropologist Melford E. Spiro demonstrated that inbreeding aversion between siblings is predictably linked to co-residency. In a cohort study of children raised communally (as if siblings) in the Kiryat Yedidim kibbutz in the 1950s, Spiro found practically no intermarriage between his subjects as adults, despite positive pressure from parents and community. The social experience of having grown up as brothers and sisters created an incest aversion, even though the children were genetically unrelated.

    Further studies have supported the hypothesis that some psychological mechanisms cause children who grow up together to lack sexual attraction to one another. Spiro's study is corroborated by Fox (1962), who found similar results in Israeli kibbutzim. Wolf and Huang (1980) reported similar aversions in Taiwanese "child marriages", in which the future wife was brought into the family and raised with her fiancé. Such marriages were notoriously difficult to consummate and led to decreased fertility of the marriage. Lieberman et al. (2003) found that childhood co-residency with an opposite-sex sibling (biologically related or not) was significantly correlated with moral repugnance toward third-party sibling incest.[12]
    Laws against adult incest are sometimes questioned on the grounds that such relations do not harm other people and so should not be criminalized. Some legal systems no longer criminalize adult incest. The French Criminal Code removed its incest prohibition long ago, and other countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, Japan, Israel, Argentina, Brazil as well as a few other Latin American countries and several U.S. states have followed suit. In most countries where the crime of adult incest has been abolished, acts of incest involving a minor are still punishable.

    From time to time proposals have been made for the repeal of incest laws, for example, the proposal in Australia by the Model Criminal Code Officer's Committee in the November 1996 discussion paper "Sexual Offences against the Person". This particular proposal was later withdrawn by the Committee due to a large public outcry. Defenders of the proposal argue, however, that the outcry was mostly based on the mistaken belief that the committee was intending to legalize sexual relations between parents and their minor children.
    One thing to keep in mind is that the wiki entry conflates all types of incest into a general term, while we are particularly speaking of sibling incest, even something less dubuious as cousin incest. For me, the key paragragh is the one on psychology which I'll requote here:
    Evolutionary psychologists have argued that humans should possess similar psychological mechanisms. The Westermarck effect, that children who are raised together during the first five to ten years of life have inhibited sexual desire toward one another, is one strong piece of evidence in favor of this. In what is now a key study of the Westermarck hypothesis, anthropologist Melford E. Spiro demonstrated that inbreeding aversion between siblings is predictably linked to co-residency. In a cohort study of children raised communally (as if siblings) in the Kiryat Yedidim kibbutz in the 1950s, Spiro found practically no intermarriage between his subjects as adults, despite positive pressure from parents and community. The social experience of having grown up as brothers and sisters created an incest aversion, even though the children were genetically unrelated.
    The basis of my argument rests on this: that brother/sister love is fundementally different than romantic love and to cross the two would be a perversion that would have essentially destroy the family unit and therefore undermine society. Now, you can pull that apart and say what consititutes the family as the basic social unit, but centuries of cultural formation has built it and to destroy it would be chaos. Moral laws are by nature evolved to sustain society. And people are civilized to establish moral boundaries. Civilization equates to moral boundaries. Something like sibling incest requires a moral boundary.

    As to the specific case, I still doubt that these adults had no notion that siblings could not do this. They are using it as an excuse to get out of criminal prosecution. Two years does strike me as a harsh penalty for this, but then again I'm not sure what the right penalty is. Certainly changing the marriage laws to accomodate this perversion is out of the question.
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  5. #80
    The Word is Serendipitous Lote-Tree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    Moral laws are by nature evolved to sustain society. And people are civilized to establish moral boundaries. Civilization equates to moral boundaries. Something like sibling incest requires a moral boundary.
    And I will second that

    Without boundaries family unit will not function sucessfully.
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  6. #81
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AimusSage View Post
    The LAW is always an exponent of culture. It reflects the norms and values of a culture and how these can best be protected, these norms and values change over time, and with that, the law changes. It's all through history, not such a big surprise.
    Absolutely. The philosopher that seems to be completely ignored by modern educational systems is Edmund Burke (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Burke). Your statement above Aimus is the heart of Edmund Burke's ideas.

    When it comes to incest there might be more than just cultural conditioning that makes people think it is icky and yuck and other such exclamations of discomfort. (although culture certainly helps)
    Quite right.

    Quote Originally Posted by vheissu View Post
    If the siblings didn't grow up together, it's obvious that it is nobody's fault they ended up together. You can't prevent falling in love, can you?

    To clear this out, just because I don't approve of incest between two people who know they are siblings doesn't mean I don't approve of homosexuality or sex outside of a double room or that a pure, white wedding is the only way. Please don't assign stereotypes of other people because of one comment.
    Ditto for me. If siblings don't know they're siblings, then they are not at fault. However, once they are aware of such a transgression, they have to understand that they should no longer continue. Hey one of western culture's founding works of literature is Oedipus Rex, who is personally disgraced and ashamed from unknowlingly having incest with his mother. And he is quite right to feel so. It is a moral transgression of incredible magnitude. And let me spell out again what that moral transgression is: the crossing of romantic love with family love.

    Thanks Lote. And let me second your post, which i wanted to highlight on its own:

    Quote Originally Posted by Lote-Tree View Post
    I think one thing missing from the above is TRUST.

    Without it family unit will not function sucessfully.



    They are not good enough.

    We have evolved to have incest taboo.



    When you put everything to consent - then anything possible.

    Thus we should not for example forbid:

    consensual drug taking.
    consensual "murder" like the recent case with the consensual canibals...
    consensual prostitution
    consensual violence
    consensual casual sex
    consensual whipping, beating, branding
    consensual [INSERT YOUR FETISH WHATEVER...] etc etc...

    Yes. CONSENSUAL. You can do anything as long as you love each other etc...

    No. I think this CONSENSUAL Thing is eating away our sense of morality. It is leaving us rather empty, barren and purpose-less.

    I value freedom and individuality. This freedom has to be with Responsibility to yourself and the society you live in...it is too easy to say as long as you love each other everything is possible...I think it's about time we say No it's quite selfish...?
    That is a magnificent outlining of why such laws exist.
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  7. #82
    Wannabe Novelist ben.!'s Avatar
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    Personally, I'm not going to go into the law ramifications of incestual relationships. However, I believe that if it is indeed love, then why repress it?

    I'm for love of any form, if it is the warm loving kind that we are all fond of.
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  8. #83
    Suzerain of Cost&Caution SleepyWitch's Avatar
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    just to tease you two guys and pick up on the most harmless point Lote mentioned:
    how would you guys go about making sure that nobody has casual sex? if it were to be illegal (as Lote said it should be), would you send police officers snooping around ppl's homes, checking on them to see if anyone's having casual sex? I can't really see how this idea goes together with the freedom you value so highly

  9. #84
    The Word is Serendipitous Lote-Tree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SleepyWitch View Post
    just to tease you two guys and pick up on the most harmless point Lote mentioned:
    how would you guys go about making sure that nobody has casual sex?
    As I said I have thrown that in to give you handle ;-) and you duly picked on it and disregarded the rest. Just as I predicted ;-)

    if it were to be illegal (as Lote said it should be), would you send police officers snooping around ppl's homes, checking on them to see if anyone's having casual sex?
    Erm same goes for incest. How can you police that?

    Would you ask every sister and brother that they had sex?

    It's nonsense isn't it?

    It's not the application of law that is important here. Its the moral ground.

    Can you see the difference?

    I can't really see how this idea goes together with the freedom you value so highly
    You can't have Absolute Freedom.

    Society and civilisations arose by moderating Freedom.
    Last edited by Lote-Tree; 03-26-2008 at 08:32 AM.
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  10. #85
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SleepyWitch View Post
    just to tease you two guys and pick up on the most harmless point Lote mentioned:
    how would you guys go about making sure that nobody has casual sex? if it were to be illegal (as Lote said it should be), would you send police officers snooping around ppl's homes, checking on them to see if anyone's having casual sex? I can't really see how this idea goes together with the freedom you value so highly
    Oh I would not make that illegal. I grew up with the notion that casual pre-marital sex was wrong. Of course it occured and I took part, but it was not something I went and told my parents. I did not go to my mother and say, "hey mom, guess what I just did for the first time today." Today I'm frankly shocked at how parents let their children live together with an unmarried lover. I would not approve of my children doing it.
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  11. #86
    Suzerain of Cost&Caution SleepyWitch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lote-Tree View Post
    As I said I have thrown that in to give you handle ;-)



    Erm same goes for incest. How can you police that?

    Would you ask every sister and brother that they had sex?

    It's nonsense isn't it?

    It's not the application of law that is important here. Its the moral ground.

    Can you see the difference?
    yep, I guess I can, or at least I try to.
    well, if you want to talk about morals and separate them from the application of the law, that's fine with me. but in that case, you have just underminded your own argument. there are many things that may be immoral but not illegal, e.g. drinking, smoking, lying, adultery, rudeness, exploiting the developing world etc. all of these are immoral but legal. so you've got kinda hoisted on your own pedard?

  12. #87
    Internal nebulae TheFifthElement's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SleepyWitch View Post
    so how can the judges and courts measure harm empirically? they are only humans, too? I suppose they probably can't and this is why they are often over-protective as in "better safe than sorry". In general, I agree with this principle, but we should not delude ourselves that it was based on empirical measurements or logic.
    I didn't say that it was.

    This is the danger in only reading part of the discussion, what I said about the law was :
    Quote Originally Posted by TheFifthElement View Post
    Does anyone know the history of how incest laws came about? As I understood it, incest was not always illegal but became illegal as a result of observation of the development of deformities in children born from incestuous relationships, but I'll be honest and say that I can't direct you to any evidence to back up this understanding. That being said, it seems a sensible basis for the law.

    Without knowing the history of the law it is difficult for us to debate the rights and wrongs of it. Isn't it possible that the law was put in place for an entirely valid reason as, I think, vheissu has been arguing, but because incest is no longer common we can no longer observe the adverse effects of it? Logically it seems to make sense to spread the gene pool, but logical arguments often seem to have little effect in largely emotional debates (or so I have found anyway).
    and

    Quote Originally Posted by TheFifthElement
    One thing I really don't understand, and is perhaps a matter for a separate debate, is why there is very prevalent view in current society that just because you want something means you can have it? I love my brother so I can have sex with him, I'm infertile but I can have a baby, I haven't got any money but I can have the latest mobile phone. What's so wrong about limits? Total, complete freedom = chaos, doesn't it?
    to which Sweets said :

    Quote Originally Posted by SweetsAmerica
    And, about total freedom being cahos, that might be the case. But again, I don't see the problem with doing something which doesn't harm anyone else.
    which leads you back to where you started, but in answer to your statement the judges and the courts don't measure harm. They don't make the law, they merely implement the laws enacted by the government of the country in which they're in. If there's a fault it lies with the legislature, not the judiciary. Looking at the judges is just looking in the wrong place.

    Quote Originally Posted by SweetsAmerica
    My attitude here is one of openness, that's all. Trying not to judge. There is a moment when I say to hell with what people think, because this is MY life, My body, My choices, and those are the liberties I am trying to have.
    Sweets, I have no problem with your choices, but one thing you can't choose to do is live in a moral vacuum, and the truth is that we all judge including you, and including me, for example:

    Quote Originally Posted by Sweets America View Post
    Wow, now I am appaled at the number of people who think that's disgusting, wrong, perverse or whatever. You're judging that from the point of view of the society you've always been in. The weird thing for me is that you don't even realize that you've been brainwashed in order to think that this or that is wrong.
    which is in itself a judgemental comment, not critical, but definitely judgemental.

    I think the problem I have with your statement that it is 'My life, My body, My choices' is that, yes, it is true that you can choose to do anything, and humans have the ability to do a great many things, but included in that is a question 'just because we can do something does that mean we should do it? This is where morality comes in, and as a species (as all human societies appear to have laws/rules of some kind) we have chosen to say that somewhere we must draw the line. You can choose to sleep with your brother, that is true, but you must also accept that by doing so, if you do so in a country where it is illegal, you are breaking the law. You must also accept that whilst you may not understand the reasons why it is illegal, there may well be very good, very justifiable reasons why it is illegal. Just because you or I don't know what it is, doesn't mean it isn't there, which is the point I was alluding to in the beginning. It is difficult to debate because the reason we might not see the harm now, is because by making it illegal the harm that it causes is simply no longer visible to us. It is also difficult to draw the line by saying, it's okay so long as the two people don't have children. Biology is a tricky thing, what if there was an accidental pregnancy - the answer would be that either the baby is born, or the State forces abortion. Who would find forced abortion palatable? If the baby is born then so is the next one, and the next one. Where does it end?

    This probably illustrates the problem with all laws. Either society deems that all things can be done, or it imposes limits. As soon as limits are imposed, because of the nature of such things, those limits will be imperfect. Some will want the line drawn here, others over there. It'll never be 100% right for everyone.
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  13. #88
    Suzerain of Cost&Caution SleepyWitch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    Oh I would not make that illegal. I grew up with the notion that casual pre-marital sex was wrong. Of course it occured and I took part, but it was not something I went and told my parents. I did not go to my mother and say, "hey mom, guess what I just did for the first time today." Today I'm frankly shocked at how parents let their children live together with an unmarried lover. I would not approve of my children doing it.
    so, I'm 26, my bf is 27 we are not married and live together and if you were my dad you'd not allow it?

  14. #89
    mind your back chasestalling's Avatar
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    Oh...I thought you meant between a nun and a monk in which case I would've said -- but never mind
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  15. #90
    The Word is Serendipitous Lote-Tree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SleepyWitch View Post
    yep, I guess I can, or at least I try to.
    well, if you want to talk about morals and separate them from the application of the law, that's fine with me.
    Policing brother and sister incest. It can't be done. It would be silly.

    there are many things that may be immoral but not illegal, e.g. drinking,
    smoking, lying, adultery, rudeness, exploiting the developing world etc. all of these are immoral but legal. so you've got kinda hoisted on your own pedard?
    How does any of the above equate with the Trust that is required in a family unit for it to function?

    Do you have a Trust between your drink and yourself?

    Do you have Trust between your smoking and yourself?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheFifthElement View Post
    I think the problem I have with your statement that it is 'My life, My body, My choices' is that, yes, it is true that you can choose to do anything
    Yes. But it is also selfish.

    No man or woman is an Island. We part of the main.

    Our choices have consequences. Not only to ourselves and the society we live in.

    There can be no absolute freedom.

    Freedom needs to be moderated or else everything falls apart.

    This " as long as it does not harm anyone..." ethos is flawed. It is short-sighted and selfish.
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