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Should the state of Missouri legalize polygamy?
Comprising 114 counties, Missouri is a U.S. state located in mid-west of the country. The debate of whether or not legalize polygamy (i.e. one man marrying many women) is ethically evaluated here using ethical method and theories.
Five-point analysis method for resolving ethical dilemmas
Ethical questions are deep rooted in the emotions of individuals as well as the society. It is not easy to present and get accepted a solution to ethical dilemma. The five point analysis method for resolving ethical dilemmas has following steps:
Develop a list of premises: This step is of finding options. Listing the solution alternatives. The method will evaluate if polygamy should be legalized, illegalized, banned with heavy punishment, or allowed under specific conditions where the wife has medical issues that require the husband to marry someone else.
Step 2. Eliminate irrelevant or weak premises: After analyzing consequences, and evaluating all possible positive and negative consequences like who will be hurt, helped and what will be long-term short-term gains and losses, shed those solutions that are weak. Assessment in this ethical case tells that the first wife may be at losing end when the husband is allowed to marry other women and husband is being helped (Sotelo, 1994). Otherwise, if the husband is not allowed for polygamy, he may indulge into extramarital relationships that will be more devastating for the wife since it is an act of cheating. Letting a husband marry other women is like binding him to responsibilities.
Step 3. Come to conclusion: How the solution stands ethically and whether or not this action crosses line. The legalization or illegalization of polygamy should be evaluated from the perspective of men and woman. This action can, on one hand, be considered as unjust to wife thus she has to share her personal life and husband's belongings with another woman but illegalizing polygamy means the husband may be understaisfied with his needs being unfulfilled sufficiently.
Step 4. Try out the argument: The polygamy can be legalized putting some legal and financial constraints on the husband. He should be penalized if the rights of one wife are violated in terms of time giving, financial support, upbringing children etc.
Step 5. Revise: Find if desired outcome has been achieved meeting expectations? The administration will evaluate if the legalization of polygamy has satisfied families or caused unrest at macro level. The polygamous men and their wives can be surveyed to find if they are alright with the legalization impact of polygamy.
Analyze how the following ethicists would answer Legalizing polygamy:
a) Spinoza Benedict
The ethical analysis of a situation, as Spinoza Benedict believes, involves only philosophical ideas and not religious beliefs (Introduction to Judaism, n.d.). He thinks that God equals nature thus there is balance in the nature and nobody's rights should be violated. Thus in his belief, the polygamy is like degrading woman and not balancing the man-woman equation. However, he does not answer whether a husband should divorce his beloved first wife to marry another woman for children since first wife is unable. Thus, Benedict, in his opinion negates the legalization of polygamy.
b) Ayn Rand
Rand believes that theoretically polygamy can be supported but practically it often ends up in dangerous relationships. Comparisons and jealousies make it hard and often unfair to be polygamous. So she believes polygamy is risky, thus it can be inferred that unconditional polygamy should not be allowed but it should be ensured that it is marriage of equal with equal and not a man marrying women who is offered inferior rights. Rights of both wives and the husband should be equal.
c) Jeremy Bentham
Jeremy Bentham has debated that polygamy is a damaging act for both the people and the society (Brahman, 2011). The polygamy has been considered crime in many countries. He says that polygamy was once such a big ethical crime as it was punishable by death. Thus Bentham would have strongly opposed the idea that polygamy should be legalized in the state of Missouri.
d) Immanuel Kant
Immanuel believes in monogamy and equality in marriage (Kant, n.d.). He says that without being equal, the marriage cannot survive. The man marrying a second woman is like taking few rights of the first woman to give them to the second one. Hence, the women become inferior to him. He believes that marriage is truly realized in monogamy only. The marriage naturally makes pairs and pair always has two in it not more or less. That pair consists of complementary members offering help, support, love, care and appreciation simultaneously.
Mummert believe that not only wife and husband's relationship but also their relationship with children is affected as a result of polygamy. The wife and husband that live together with their children full time are more happy as well as satisfied that the families where the husband serves half of his time with one wife and her children and rest time with second wife and her children. Thus polygamy demands balance that is very hard to maintain since the rights of women and children are at risk of being compromised. Mummert would have therefore supported monogamy and opposed legalization of polygamy in Missouri.
Identify and apply student's personal ethical theory
Ethics holds that the rights of individuals should not be evaluated and every human being should be treated with justice and fairness. I believe that justice and fairness is a universal concept but it does not mean as simple as diving a bread into two equal halves to give one each to two persons (Ethics and Virtue, n.d). Justice and fairness would require penalizing a minor different than penalizing a major. Hence, no one size fits all.
In Missouri where there are 51.4% women and 48.6% men population, I believe not all the population would be in complete favor or complete opposition of legalization of polygamy. People like to have control on their lives and to plan things as they like. A couple will therefore love to be able to decide when to avail vacations, how and when to spend them, how many kids to plan for and which people to socialize with and which to avoid. The personality and choices of every person are unique thus it takes time developing compatibility among spouses.
I believe when there is a third party, a woman, whom the husband can intend to marry; the balance in the marriage is disturbed. I am not advocating that the balance is impossible to maintain but I do stand on the point that not everyone can maintain it. Human being is naturally emotionally dependent and likes to seek refuge in the love and care of the near ones. Now, when there are two wives, the husband has got two choices so it is challenging to decide which wife to take to party, to vacations and to official dinner. It is not possible to choose without having an upper hand over the wives and this will not make the husband and wives equal since he is in the decision making position and not the wives. Thus, restating my point, polygamy is challenging.
Now evaluating if polygamy should be legalized or not, I think that no one size fits all. Neither should all people be allowed to have multiple wives unconditionally nor should the needy be restricted for multiple marriages. There are situations where the husband needs to have more than one wives. These may include but are not limited to:
Unmet relationship needs with one wife
A sick wife who cannot take care of children 24/7
An infertile wife who is unable to become a biological mother
The husband has a traveling job/business hence lives at two or three different places remotely located thus needs a family at…[continue]
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