Should polygamy be legal?

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Polygamy is the practice of marrying multiple spouses. Worldwide, different societies variously encourage, accept or outlaw polygamy. So is it unethical? Should it be legal?

Arguments[edit | edit source]

Polygamy should be legal[edit | edit source]

  • Argument Everyone should be free to do anything that doesn't harm others. If it is a free choice between the parties involved, marrying multiple people doesn't harm others and should be allowed.

Polygamy should be illegal[edit | edit source]

  • Argument When polygamy is allowed, polygyny (one man, many women) becomes more common than polyandry (one woman, many men), so in practice a polygamous society leads to a polygynous society, which violates the dignity of women.
    • Objection Polyandry could also violate the dignity of women through the mechanism of spousal abuse. Monogamy has been shown to violate the dignity of women in some circumstances too[citation needed]. Therefore, this is an argument against certain kinds of cultures, independent of the parity of unions, not against polygamy in the most general sense.
  • Argument Polygamy leads to some people having no spouses because some have more than one, which generates resentment and destabilizes society.
    • Objection There's also some people with a lot of money and others with none, which generates resentment and destabilizes society, but (in liberal economies) we don't forbid people from having a lot of money just because other people can't handle it.
      • Objection There are proposals to do just that, some implemented, so it is an inapt analogy.
    • Objection In monogamous society there are also people with only one spouse while others without, and that doesn't cause particular resentment or social instability.
  • Argument Polygamy implies that each spouse gets only a fraction of the time, attention, resources and love of their partner.
    • Objection This is true for all relationships. People have multiple family members, multiple friends, coworkers, etc. that they split time with. In these cases, having more members within a group is typically seen as a positive because it creates diversity.
  • Argument If a person can marry as many people as they like this will render marriage meaningless. Every adult person could in theory be married to every other adult person infinitely.
    • Objection A person can engage in sexual relationships with as many people as they like, but not everyone is constantly having sex with everyone else.

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]