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Old 20 Apr 2012, 02:43 PM   #356738 / #26
sohy
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I think sex between siblings is amoral. As long as it is completely consensual and the participants are adults, I don't see this as a moral issue at all.
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Old 20 Apr 2012, 02:45 PM   #356740 / #27
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It's highly questionable that sibling-sex taboo is merely culturally-signaled. Certainly cultural elements play a role. But this taboo is a cultural universal (see Donald Brown's Human Universals), so it is likely an evolved predisposition.
A thing can be universal or nearly so without being biologically determined, in my opinion, though I've no idea whether this is the case with the incest taboo in particular. I does seem suspect to me that a rule which is biologically predetermined would have so many exceptions in practice. But I was referring to the abstraction. And as for Brown's book, well...

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My presentation of Haidt may be an oversimplification, but his work is not. To the extent that he needs to, he acknowledges the vastly distinct iterations of all of these moral foundations in different cultures. As a moral psychologist, however, he is trying to get at whether these foundations are relatively universal (they are), and to what extent they affect morality at the most fundamental levels. It's the work of the anthropologist to eek out all of the different cultural conventions. That's not Haidt's job, and it would be unreasonable to expect him to cover all that ground.
As I said, I don't disagree with him wholly, only to the extent that he over-generalizes where the truth demands particulars.

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Using psychological experimentation to determine universals in moral foundations hardly constitutes configurationalism, especially if he's not doing anthropology. One could make the same argument for any anthropologist looking for universals. I think it's more accurate to say Haidt is working from a model grounded in psychological anthropology.
Traditionally, configurationalism is considered to be a sub-branch of psychological anthropology. In any case, when people start wandering onto the "territory" of my discipline, I'm apt to treat them as though they are familiar with the history of the question within it, just as if I got involved with a mapping project, the geographers in the room would be justified in expecting me to talk about the technical aspects of the project in their terms.
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Old 20 Apr 2012, 02:46 PM   #356742 / #28
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It's highly questionable that sibling-sex taboo is merely culturally-signaled. Certainly cultural elements play a role. But this taboo is a cultural universal (see Donald Brown's Human Universals), so it is likely an evolved predisposition.
Sibling-sex taboo has also been observed in other primates besides humans.
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Old 20 Apr 2012, 02:50 PM   #356746 / #29
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Where do you think we get our culture from?
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Old 20 Apr 2012, 02:53 PM   #356748 / #30
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It's highly questionable that sibling-sex taboo is merely culturally-signaled. Certainly cultural elements play a role. But this taboo is a cultural universal (see Donald Brown's Human Universals), so it is likely an evolved predisposition.
A thing can be universal or nearly so without being biologically determined, in my opinion, though I've no idea whether this is the case with the incest taboo in particular. I does seem suspect to me that a rule which is biologically predetermined would have so many exceptions in practice. But I was referring to the abstraction. And as for Brown's book, well...
If a behavioral display or set of beliefs shows up in every culture with any historical record, the evidence strongly suggests a genetic component. And by "universal" here, of course I'm referring to whether the behavior or belief finds some representation (however varied through cultural convention) in every culture. There will always be individual exceptions. But clearly this taboo is pervasive. No known culture makes a habit of regularly condoning sex among siblings.

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My presentation of Haidt may be an oversimplification, but his work is not. To the extent that he needs to, he acknowledges the vastly distinct iterations of all of these moral foundations in different cultures. As a moral psychologist, however, he is trying to get at whether these foundations are relatively universal (they are), and to what extent they affect morality at the most fundamental levels. It's the work of the anthropologist to eek out all of the different cultural conventions. That's not Haidt's job, and it would be unreasonable to expect him to cover all that ground.
As I said, I don't disagree with him wholly, only to the extent that he over-generalizes where the truth demands particulars.
Can you give some specifics from the book? It's easy to make such a criticism of any premise in psychology. Like all social science, moral psychology is describing trends of behavior.

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Using psychological experimentation to determine universals in moral foundations hardly constitutes configurationalism, especially if he's not doing anthropology. One could make the same argument for any anthropologist looking for universals. I think it's more accurate to say Haidt is working from a model grounded in psychological anthropology.
Traditionally, configurationalism is considered to be a sub-branch psychological anthropology...
Unless I see some more specific criticisms of Haidt's particular claims, I'm going to press a disagreement with you here. He is working as a moral psychologist, not as an anthropologist. The criteria by which we judge his work should therefore be within the broader criteria of psychology. Remember that most of his work from this book was previously published in peer-reviewed journals of psychology. Our expectations of Haidt's work should operate within that context.
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Old 20 Apr 2012, 07:56 PM   #356902 / #31
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if instinctive reactions like sibling BO disgust developed because there are situations where generally speaking stopping and having a good think about the situation isn't a good use of time and energy, then the social taboos which became associated with that disgust should be re-thought if the danger-disgust situation changes. So if siblings now understand that the danger of sex is to their off-spring, they can make sure they don't have kids. Once the danger is eliminated, the disgust/taboo stuff is an irrelevant anachronism. We might still feel icky, but we shouldn't have to worry about breaking the social taboo.

harm and care, and fairness are rooted in different instincts, like empathy. Our thoughts about what constitutes harm and fairness change too, but they have the status of general principles which aren't situational in quite the same way as taboos. I think.
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Old 20 Apr 2012, 08:36 PM   #356916 / #32
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if instinctive reactions like sibling BO disgust developed because there are situations where generally speaking stopping and having a good think about the situation isn't a good use of time and energy, then the social taboos which became associated with that disgust should be re-thought if the danger-disgust situation changes. So if siblings now understand that the danger of sex is to their off-spring, they can make sure they don't have kids. Once the danger is eliminated, the disgust/taboo stuff is an irrelevant anachronism. We might still feel icky, but we shouldn't have to worry about breaking the social taboo.

harm and care, and fairness are rooted in different instincts, like empathy. Our thoughts about what constitutes harm and fairness change too, but they have the status of general principles which aren't situational in quite the same way as taboos. I think.
I think you've got it right here. Though it's probably unrealistic to expect people to shed taboos and thoughts about "moral purity" generally, it's hard to justify those things via reason. Of course, Haidt is skeptical of the entire Enlightenment model of reason dictating morality (or behavior in general).

I don't know what I think about that. On the one hand, I think Haidt offers up an excellent explanatory model that is largely descriptive of moral codes. But with morality, obviously we want something more normative -- we want to debate what's right and wrong. An appeal to intuition doesn't quite cut it in such discussions. But reason seems to prefer parsimony, and most rational models cut away taboos and appeals to authority.

I don't want to commit the naturalistic fallacy and say that all five foundations that Haidt describes should go into a full morality. But I would think that there has to be a tip of the hat to these evolved dispositions in any realistic moral code.
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Old 20 Apr 2012, 09:19 PM   #356946 / #33
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Old 21 Apr 2012, 03:29 AM   #357090 / #34
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I find the concept of incest completely disgusting. But then I find the idea of sex disgusting, so I may not be the most reliable commentator on the subject.
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Old 21 Apr 2012, 03:54 AM   #357097 / #35
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What about a guy who meets twin sisters? Do you have a problem with a threesome with sisters? That is often a porn theme, isn't it?
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Old 22 Apr 2012, 07:51 AM   #357391 / #36
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What about a guy who meets twin sisters?
Especially these.
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Old 22 Apr 2012, 09:32 AM   #357399 / #37
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What about a guy who meets twin sisters?
Especially these.
What, no pics?
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Old 22 Apr 2012, 09:48 AM   #357400 / #38
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Oh, they are not shy of the camera.

This video, and lots more.
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Old 22 Apr 2012, 10:16 AM   #357402 / #39
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Oh, they are not shy of the camera.

This video, and lots more.
Awww. They are beautiful!
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Old 29 Apr 2012, 02:30 AM   #359740 / #40
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If any of you have read Robert Heinlein's books about Lazarus Long the morality of why we consider incest to be wrong is challenged and boy did it make me think about it. Not that I can get away from the ick factor myself but I can see that we've developed cultural mores most like for evolutionary reasons.
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Old 29 Apr 2012, 10:41 AM   #359779 / #41
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In my opinion sex with a sibling is morally neutral, provided no harm come of it.

Haidt's surveys found that only intellectuals -- college students, to be exact -- held that morality was primarily a pragmatic matter of mutual care and fairness. The rest of society includes cultural propriety, deference to authority and an 'ick' factor as moral determinants. Ie: disgusting or disrespectful = immoral.
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Old 02 May 2012, 03:46 PM   #360818 / #42
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If any of you have read Robert Heinlein's books about Lazarus Long the morality of why we consider incest to be wrong is challenged and boy did it make me think about it.
Or this.
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Old 02 May 2012, 04:48 PM   #360835 / #43
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Yeah read that a few years back. That had some other odd stories in it, too.
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Old 02 May 2012, 04:59 PM   #360838 / #44
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That had some other odd stories in it, too.
Which was, after all, the intention of the project.
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Old 02 May 2012, 06:26 PM   #360864 / #45
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Coming from a probation perspective, when we find families where siblings are being intimate it's a symptom of lots of problems in the family. Molestation, lack of parental support, conditions leading to the family being isolated like cleanliness, mental illness or finances. The situation stated in the beginning while icky is consensual and they are adults. If no other trauma cased the incident then I guess it would be neutral morally. I just don't see being that bored.
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Old 02 May 2012, 07:27 PM   #360883 / #46
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"Imagine for a second that a brother and sister are on vacation. They are alone, and there is no chance that they will be seen by anyone else. They both engage, consensually, in kissing, which leads to sexual intercourse. The brother and sister used protection, so there is [virtually] no risk of pregnancy or disease. Both agree that it was an enjoyable experience, but that they wouldn't want to do it again."

This article from Psychology Today nicely summarizes a question that moral psychologist Jon Haidt has been asking people of different cultures for decades.

This is part of the work that culminates in his recent book The Righteous Mind, which I highly recommend as one of the most well-researched, cohesive accounts of moral psychology I've read.

In most cultures, as many as 65% answer that it would be wrong for siblings to have sexual intercourse. Haidt argues that this stems from our our evolved sense of "moral purity."

Most liberally-minded atheists tend to see the world, Haidt argues, solely in terms of "care" and "fairness", and so wouldn't see any harm in siblings having consensual sex. But we're definitely in the minority on that view, as most cultures see morality in terms of five distinct principles, namely "care," "fairness," "loyalty," "authority," and "purity."

Do you think it's moral to have sexual relations with a sibling? Or is it immoral? If, like most secularists, you say "no harm, no foul," how do you justify your view?
I wouldn't explain the 65% as "moral purity," whatever that means, but I would explain it as a simplification of basic moral rules. If you complicate your rules with conditions and exceptions, then you will have a more robust moral system for sure, but it will be too complicated for anyone but the philosophy wonks to bother dealing with. If we say, "Well, OK, sibling sex is off limits most of the time, but it can be OK in some cases, so just use your best judgment," then the result will be a lot of idiots who bear children of incest. Incest is a case where it is easy to stick with the absolutist condemnation, because it is natural to have an instinctive repulsion to it. Many people are better off trusting their gut instead of their brain.
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Old 05 May 2012, 12:05 PM   #362090 / #47
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Eww.
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Old 05 May 2012, 10:44 PM   #362220 / #48
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Has anyone mentioned that most animals do not allow incest to take place? It is biological.
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Old 05 May 2012, 10:50 PM   #362221 / #49
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Has anyone mentioned that most animals do not allow incest to take place? It is biological.
Has anyone mentioned how utterly wrong that is? It is bullcrap.

Incest is pervasive, common and normal in many, many species.....bonobos, rats, dogs, mice, wasps, stoats.....and many more.
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Old 05 May 2012, 11:34 PM   #362236 / #50
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Has anyone mentioned that most animals do not allow incest to take place? It is biological.
Where did you hear that crap? It is not only untrue in the wild but breeders often will put brothers and sisters, or sons and moms together to emphasize a certain trait in dogs and horses.
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