Moral Quandary
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23-08-2012, 10:50 AM
Moral Quandary
I have a rather extensive history in the field of Psychology, and while attending a lecture on morality a few years ago, the professor presented a moral question to the class. To this day, it remains one of my favorite demonstrations of how we, as a society, often use illogic and unreason to label certain things as "right" or "wrong". Bear in mind, I'm not arguing for or against anything by relaying this to the forum, I'm simply presenting an interesting question for others to ponder over. :-)

John and Sara are brother and sister. One Summer, they decide to spend a week at their parents' cabin in the mountains. It will be just the two of them; hiking, fishing, doing whatever it is that they wish to do.

One night, as they sit in front of the fireplace, Sara tells John that she's greatly enjoyed the camping trip and the time it's allowed them to spend together. John agrees, and puts him arm around his sister. After a few moments, Sara looks up at John and, after a moment's hesitation, asks him if he'd like to have sex. John is taken aback by this, but he also finds himself intrigued.

Eventually, the two of them decide that they are open enough with one another to have sex - just one time - and afterward nobody will find out. It will be their special secret. Sara is already on birth control, but John decides to use a condom anyway - "just to be safe". They have sex together, then cuddle for the rest of the night; having been brought closer together. It is the only time they will ever have sex with one another; Sara did not get pregnant; and nobody was hurt by their actions.


Have John and Sara done something morally wrong? If so, what; and in what way is it "wrong"?

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23-08-2012, 10:59 AM
RE: Moral Quandary
(23-08-2012 10:50 AM)Misanthropik Wrote:  I have a rather extensive history in the field of Psychology, and while attending a lecture on morality a few years ago, the professor presented a moral question to the class. To this day, it remains one of my favorite demonstrations of how we, as a society, often use illogic and unreason to label certain things as "right" or "wrong". Bear in mind, I'm not arguing for or against anything by relaying this to the forum, I'm simply presenting an interesting question for others to ponder over. :-)

John and Sara are brother and sister. One Summer, they decide to spend a week at their parents' cabin in the mountains. It will be just the two of them; hiking, fishing, doing whatever it is that they wish to do.

One night, as they sit in front of the fireplace, Sara tells John that she's greatly enjoyed the camping trip and the time it's allowed them to spend together. John agrees, and puts him arm around his sister. After a few moments, Sara looks up at John and, after a moment's hesitation, asks him if he'd like to have sex. John is taken aback by this, but he also finds himself intrigued.

Eventually, the two of them decide that they are open enough with one another to have sex - just one time - and afterward nobody will find out. It will be their special secret. Sara is already on birth control, but John decides to use a condom anyway - "just to be safe". They have sex together, then cuddle for the rest of the night; having been brought closer together. It is the only time they will ever have sex with one another; Sara did not get pregnant; and nobody was hurt by their actions.


Have John and Sara done something morally wrong? If so, what; and in what way is it "wrong"?

Nope, nothing wrong.

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Science is not a subject, but a method.
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23-08-2012, 11:08 AM
RE: Moral Quandary
Its up to them to decide on wether it was "right/positive wrong/negative"

EDIT: Welcome to the forum BTW.

Have you any more psychological/philosophical/moralistic questions.... if so please fire away Smile

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23-08-2012, 11:09 AM
RE: Moral Quandary
gross? YES, morally wrong? not necessarily.

it could be wrong because no action comes without a consequence and that event could harm them in some psychological way (keeping secrets can be tough and harmful). But the information provided is not enough to give a reasoned response...

Cool question Big Grin

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23-08-2012, 11:09 AM
RE: Moral Quandary
(23-08-2012 10:59 AM)Chas Wrote:  Nope, nothing wrong.

What Chas said.

It is societally wrong (by tradition) and for good reasons, when contraception wasn't as reliable as it is today... but, with no offspring (and the dangers of recessive genes) no harm, no foul.

I'm not advocating it, as not everyone is emotionally balanced as John and Sara. It could cause long-term damage and familial conflict in years to come, if the event was allowed to contaminate their relationship.

But it wasn't immoral.
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23-08-2012, 11:11 AM
RE: Moral Quandary
What does Sara look like?
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23-08-2012, 11:12 AM
RE: Moral Quandary
(23-08-2012 11:11 AM)Jeff Wrote:  What does Sara look like?

Elizabeth Banks. Lmao

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23-08-2012, 12:04 PM
RE: Moral Quandary
To be truthful, I don't even see anything to ponder here. If the act fell within their moral boundaries, then it was fine. If the act didn't fall within their moral boundaries, well, they acted outside their boundaries. Now they can either expand their boundaries to fit the act, or accept that they acted outside their boundaries, and try not to do so again.

Morality is only relevant to those involved. In this situation, there are only two people involved, so their morality is the only morality that is relevant.

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23-08-2012, 12:13 PM
RE: Moral Quandary
(23-08-2012 12:04 PM)Stark Raving Wrote:  To be truthful, I don't even see anything to ponder here. If the act fell within their moral boundaries, then it was fine. If the act didn't fall within their moral boundaries, well, they acted outside their boundaries. Now they can either expand their boundaries to fit the act, or accept that they acted outside their boundaries, and try not to do so again.

Morality is only relevant to those involved. In this situation, there are only two people involved, so their morality is the only morality that is relevant.

True. However, there are some individuals with whom I've spoken about incest before (not sure why; it just came up, lol), and their feelings were that incest is wrong "just because it is". When I present this hypothetical story to them, they find themselves at a loss as to why incest in and of itself is "wrong". They feel in their gut that it's wrong, but they cannot justify it logically (biologically, sure, but that's beside the point).

This occurs all the time in this world with many different topics - incest being just one of them. The idea is to prime people's minds to question things objectively, rather than subjectively.

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23-08-2012, 12:18 PM
RE: Moral Quandary
There is an evolutionary explanation as to why incest is a taboo.

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