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Saturday, September 8, 2012

John Danaher Defends Consanguinamory

In three entries at the blog Philosophical Disquisitions, John Danaher skillfully exposes that the reasons people use to condemn consanguinamory are not good reasons and he shows that consensual incest should be decriminalized.

In part one, he dismantles Discredited Arguments #2 & 4.

In part two, he dismantles Discredited Arguments #18 & 19.

In part three, he dismantles Discredited Arguments #1, 9 & 20.


1. The Argument from the Prevention of Sexual Abuse
This argument is neither persuasive nor philosophically interesting, but it is surprisingly pervasive so we need to give it some consideration. The argument claims that incest laws are needed in order to prevent sexual abuse within families. One can understand the concern. Children and dependent family members are often abused by older siblings and parents so anything that can help to prevent this kind of abuse from occurring is to be welcomed.

Although the concern is understandable, is the claim made on behalf of incest laws a good one? To answer that, let’s first formalise the argument:


  • (1) If an activity constitutes a form sexual abuse and domination, it ought to be criminalised. 
  • (2) Incest constitutes a form of sexual abuse or domination.
  • (3) Therefore, incest ought to be criminalised.


As I say, the general principle stated by premise (1) looks pretty sound to me. But the claim made by premise (2) seems deeply flawed. Most importantly, as specifically defined in the first part of this series, incest involves consensual sexual relations between adult relatives. As such it is not a form of abuse or domination. This definition is mirrored in most incest statutes, which typically ban all consensual sexual relations between close relatives and ban marriages between such relatives too. So, in other words, those laws do not limit themselves to abusive relationships.

Of course, that’s not to say that abuse or domination do not take place within families or that we should do nothing about it. But this brings us to the second point: there are plenty of other laws on the books that cover abuse and sexual domination within families. Looking solely to the legal position in England and Wales, we find that sections 5-8 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 make it an offence to engage in or incite sexual activity with children under the age of 13, irrespective of whether they consent (because, broadly speaking, children below that aged are deemed incapable of consenting to such activities). These laws would cover the kind of scenario envisaged by this particular defence of incest laws thus rendering specific incest laws redundant.

Than you to defending something that is very real to many people: loving, wholistic relationships and enjoyable recreation with close relatives. People should not have to fear prosecution, bullying, or discimination for loving each other. Let consenting adults have the relationships in which they best function; the relationships of their own choosing.

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2 comments:

  1. Danaher is great and he neither needs to use the word "love" ;D

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wonderful. We need more people to realize that incest laws are not needed. People are already protected by rape and abuse laws, but consenting adults should be free to enjoy each other.
    Liz

    ReplyDelete

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