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  #21  
Old 07-25-2014, 03:31 AM
JaneQSmythe JaneQSmythe is offline
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Originally Posted by hyperskeptic View Post
...This is all by way of clarifying what led me to introduce this thread: intimate relationships are complicated and sometimes really fraught with ethical peril and, as much as I think consent is really at the heart of the matter, it seems to me that consent cannot be the only measure we use, either in giving form to relationships themselves or in defending/advocating for unconventional relationships to the wider society.

As to that last point, as I noted in a postscript, above, I'm supposing people are likely to get kind of defensive about this, and so put up a defensive kind of argument: "I'm not hurting anyone! Leave me alone!" ("Laissez-moi faire!") That's an understandable ploy but probably not adequate, ethically speaking.
Thank you for starting this discussion, I think it delves deep.

Just because someone gives their consent does NOT meant that I am obligated to proceed (however, much I want to).

At some point we have to concede that people are allowed to make their own mistakes and learn from them...that is their right. It is my right to not participate in the "mistake-making" as I see it.

From my own life, I have an intimate friend (MrClean for those of you who have read my blog). He is attracted to me, I am attracted to him. So, what is the problem? (you may ask)

From his perspective - none.

From my perspective - enough to not proceed.

Objectively:
He knows I am poly (and is really good friends with MrS...and tolerates/is friendly with Dude). He has been crushing on me since before Dude and I got together (i.e. when I was only look for girls). He is in the process of divorcing his wife (HER decision) from whom he has been separated for over a year. We are sexually attracted to each other.

Subjectively:
He is monogamous at heart (which he admits - despite his crush on me). He doesn't want to expose his kids to a non-monogamous situation (I don't mind being a "secret" but don't like the two-faced-ness of promoting monogamy to kids and living a different reality). He falls "in love" with people he is sexual with WAY TOO FAST for my tastes. (Which is not a problem in and of itself...BUT is HUGELY scary for me...who tends to suppress emotional involvement until it can't be denied.) Etc.

So, while he may consent to us furthering our relationship...I don't. I invoke my "Don't Fuck Fragile" rule and choose to remain Friends With limited Benefits...

JaneQ
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Me: poly bi female, in an "open-but-not-looking" Vee-plus with -
MrS: hetero polyflexible male, live-in husband (22+ yrs)
Dude: hetero poly male, live-in boyfriend (3+ yrs) and MrS's best friend
Lotus: poly bi female, "it's complicated" relationships with Dude/JaneQ/MrS (1+ years)
TT: poly male, married to Lotus, FB with JaneQ
VV and MsJ: bi-women with male primaries, LTR LDR FWBs to JaneQ


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  #22  
Old 07-25-2014, 05:23 AM
WhatHappened WhatHappened is offline
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First, it seems the burden of proof may be on us to show that our particular kind of deviance is not harmful . . . since we are the deviants.
I agree with this.

I'm keeping it short as it's late here, but as many good qualities as I see in XBF, I also believe that his way of life has brought harm and pain to the women he's dated. I look at his wife's life, and I believe it has brought harm to her. A lifetime of sheer self-indulgence is not healthy. I believe she's far less than she would otherwise have been had there been any practice of moderation as you spoke about earlier. I believe his lifestyle has even brought him a great deal of pain. It's been six months since I broke up with him, and he's still struggling with it (as am I).

Yes, she consented, he consented, I consented. But it didn't stop human nature and normal human emotions. It didn't give him any greater ability to look at the facts of what was going on, or any willingness to recognize or admit that his wife could experience normal human emotions like jealousy, insecurity, fear, or anger, that she might actually ACT on those emotions, that she might not be completely upfront with him about why she was doing the things she was doing. And I stopped consenting when I saw the ground rules were not quite what he'd led me to believe (and I believe in his heart, he believed those were the ground rules and believed it could be the Utopia he told me it could be.)

Nonetheless, he's hurt, I'm hurt, I imagine there has to be some fallout in their marriage that's hurting her, too.

The repercussions of our actions spread beyond the consenting adults to others who had no say in it. The group he and I were both part of, prior to our relationship, is being hurt because of it (although they have no idea why he and I are variously staying away--we were/are both strong, vital members that made the group what it is.)

When I look at many of the stories here, I see kids, too, being hurt by the consenting relationships of the adults around them.

XBF and his wife always thought it was funny that the neighbors saw her going in and out with one man after another--they thought it would be so funny to stage a fight, pretend to be upset, when a neighbor pulled one of them aside to tell them the other is cheating. Having been on an infidelity site for several years, I know well the pain of those people for whom it turns out...everyone knew about the cheating, and no one told. So even though it's a smaller, farther out ripple, it IS yet another ripple to their behavior: putting their neighbors in the very uncomfortable position of having every reason to think he's being cheated on, and not knowing if or what to say, and feeling guilty that they're part of letting this nice guy go around totally unaware of what's going on.

Last edited by WhatHappened; 07-25-2014 at 05:26 AM.
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  #23  
Old 07-26-2014, 02:00 AM
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Does anyone ever get or give 100% pure unadulterated consent? The mind and its subconscious are full of tricks.

What about situations where consent *isn't* required?

Simple example: A man is trying to rape a woman and another man stops him. The would-be rapist doesn't consent to being stopped, but I'm sure we all agree he should be stopped anyway. After all, he doesn't have the woman's consent. And I think we'd all say the same even if the would-be rapist *believed* he had her consent. On the other hand, could his belief be right and ours wrong? e.g., what if it was an impromptu BDSM scene that looked like a rape?

Subtle example: A man wants to paint his house purple and orange. His neighbor objects: Not only would it be an eyesore in the neighbor's opinion, but the neighbor also fears for property values in a neighborhood where all the houses are painted in pleasant shades of pastel. Is it moral/ethical for the first man to proceed with the purple/orange paint job anyway? Would it be moral/ethical for the neighborhood (perhaps via law enforcement) to restrain him from doing the purple/orange paint job? No matter how this dilemma is resolved, someone will end up with something they didn't want -- something they didn't consent to. How do we decide whose consent should get violated?

Heated example: A gay couple moves into a religious, conservative, dare I say it homophobic neighborhood. Nobody (except the couple) wants them to move in. People fear for how their children will be influenced. Is it moral/ethical for the couple to move in anyway? Would it be moral/ethical for the neighborhood to resist that, and what (if any) measures of resistance would be reasonable?

Uneasy example: Same neighborhood, and essentially the same questions, only this time, instead of a gay couple, it's a single man who's moving in, and he has just finished serving ten years for child molestation. Do the answers (to the previous example's questions) change -- and if so, how?

Re (from MusicalRose):
Quote:
"For any and all issues where it can be proved that an individual's behavior is harmful to the greater good, then I believe they are violating the consent of everyone they share the planet with."
Ah, but who decides what constitutes the greater good? Who decides what constitutes proof? Lots of conservatives feel that limiting marriage to man-woman couples serves the greater good (and allowing same-sex marriage does harm to the greater good). Who decides whether they're right, and how?

Re (from Belladonna):
Quote:
"Giving consent means you are allowing the other person to do something, but in reality shouldn't they be allowed to make their own choices and then you can decide if you want to be with that person for said choices?"
In a typical ideological conflict between two spouses, one who wants polyamory and the other monogamy, you're right, consent is just a decision to not divorce. Consent becomes a more critical issue, though, if one person has power over another person (such as a sexual predator being able to physically overpower a woman or a child).

Re (from JaneQSmythe):
Quote:
"At some point we have to concede that people are *allowed* to make their own mistakes and learn from them ... That is their right."
Agreed.

Re (from WhatHappened):
Quote:
"When I look at many of the stories here, I see kids, too, being hurt by the consenting relationships of the adults around them."
Kids added to the equation become a huge game changer when it comes to the idea of "consenting adults" being sufficient. For then, what should we also wait on: the kids' consent, the kids' well-being, or both? and how are their consent and well-being to be determined?
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  #24  
Old 07-26-2014, 03:57 AM
mischa mischa is offline
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I've been ruminating on a question about what it is that puts the ethical in ethical non-monogamy. [...] Many people speak as though any kind of personal or intimate relationship is acceptable or justifiable so long as all parties to that relationship are adults and consent to its terms.
To me the question of the OP reveals more about his thought process than about ethics. He questions "consent" in the context of non-monogamous relationships, but not in the context of monogamous relationships, and I don't think "consent" or lack thereof is any more relevant in either.

Based on my understanding & living of poly open relationships without restrictions, there is no "consent". There is "compliance". I don't need permission from my partner to listen to music. I don't need permission from my partner to read a particular book. And I don't need permission from my partner to have a relationship with whom I wish. Asking for consent on any of those to me is similarly preposterous. If "consent" is an issue, then having them as a partner is a mistake.

No one expects birds to "consent" to each other's use of their own wings to fly. But if you like talking about "consent", you could talk about the "consent" to having your wings cut out for someone else.

Also, I'm against the expression "ethical non-monogamy", because it creates a false dichotomy (informal fallacy).

Last edited by mischa; 07-26-2014 at 04:09 AM.
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  #25  
Old 07-26-2014, 05:09 PM
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@ mischa ... can I assume that your perception is that non-monogamous tendencies are as natural and universal in humans as are the very breaths we take?

Re: burden of proof laid on polyamory ... is something I've been thinking further on, and if the burden of proof is on us then I wonder what we have to try to prove. That polyamory is at least equally as harmless as monogamy? and if so, how do we (prove and) quantify "equally as harmless?"
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  #26  
Old 07-26-2014, 06:38 PM
mischa mischa is offline
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Originally Posted by kdt26417 View Post
@ mischa ... can I assume that your perception is that non-monogamous tendencies are as natural and universal in humans as are the very breaths we take?

Re: burden of proof laid on polyamory ... is something I've been thinking further on, and if the burden of proof is on us then I wonder what we have to try to prove. That polyamory is at least equally as harmless as monogamy? and if so, how do we (prove and) quantify "equally as harmless?"
My perception is that OP is purposefully or unknowingly asking a loaded question. From Wikipedia:

"A loaded question or complex question fallacy is a question which contains a controversial or unjustified assumption (e.g., a presumption of guilt).

Aside from being an informal fallacy depending on usage, such questions may be used as a rhetorical tool: the question attempts to limit direct replies to be those that serve the questioner's agenda."


He didn't question the ethical validity of consent in a general sense, or in relationships in general, but in "ethical non-monogamy". Either I'm totally missing something, or he's being particularly inquisitive with that kind of relationship, while omitting the possibly unethical nature of "ethical monogamy".

And again I don't like that kind of expression, "ethical relationship". It leads to a number of inaccurate assumptions, such as, that ethics in this case ought to be centered on those in the relationship. Sorry but no, a heterosexual monogamous faithful couple is not ethical if they're fucking missionary style over someone's grave at a cemetery, or avoiding taxes.

Having read more from hyperskeptic, I don't have a clue where he's coming from. I'm a utilitarian, consequentialist, so I believe the utmost & only defining trait to measure moral adequacy is happiness / preference. But he questions consent, then talks about harm as being relevant, then also talks about obligations. So if, hyperskeptic, you teach and write about ethics all the time, it would be useful to know what's your general stance on life to begin with.

Last edited by mischa; 07-26-2014 at 06:52 PM.
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  #27  
Old 07-27-2014, 12:35 AM
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I'm mostly utilitarianist, but will favor deontology at times without entirely knowing why.
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  #28  
Old 07-28-2014, 02:31 PM
DebbieandRay DebbieandRay is offline
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"If consent collapses into simple hedonism, it seems to me it can't even be a necessary condition for an ethical relationship, let alone a sufficient condition."

Can you please define what you understand "simple hedonism" to mean?
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  #29  
Old 07-28-2014, 05:00 PM
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I think hyperskeptic means, "Oohh, I'm just gonna do this cause it feels good" ... but I should let him speak for himself.

Kinda like me thinking, "Oohh, I'm going to drink half this bottle of Hot Damn 100 Cinnamon Schnapps because it feels good." Sure it does but it's bad for my liver and it might make me puke. So something "feeling good" isn't always a good criterion for choosing it and consent should probably be built on more than that.

That's my understanding anyway.
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