Posted on | May 22, 2012 by Lucia Muchova |
Distinguished scholars have pointed out that President Obama’s announcement in support of same-sex marriage has done the nation a favor by creating a platform for a much needed discussion on the definition of marriage.
One of the basic tenets of the traditional conjugal view of marriage is that marriage is a comprehensive union of two spouses of opposite sex. This union is permanent and exclusive and open to procreation.
If, however, marriage is reduced to emotional intimacy and shared domestic life, in line with the revisionist view supported by President Obama, it logically follows that there is no reason to limit marriage to only two people.
Indeed, some revisionist scholars have recognized this consequence of their argument and have signed a statement “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage” arguing that society should recognize polyamorous relationships as equivalent to marriage.
However, recent empirical research by Joseph Henrich, Robert Boyd, and Peter J. Richerson refutes the view that polygamous societies are no different from monogamous ones. Their 2012 article “The Puzzle of Monogamous Marriage” published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society demonstrates that monogamous marriages are considerably preferable.
They find that normative monogamy reduces violent crimes, lowers gender inequality, increases GDP per capita, improves paternal investment and childhood outcomes and is associated with greater female educational attainment. The study also notes that strength of normative monogamy is positively correlated with democracy and civil rights.
In his comprehensive response to the paper, Christopher Kaczor notes “in virtually every respect, polygamy is socially detrimental- to society in general, to men, to women, and to children.” Sociological data clearly shows that monogamous marriages promote the flourishing of individuals and the society in ways that polygamous relationships fail to do.
Policy makers have good reasons to oppose pressures to recognize polygamous relationships and instead endorse monogamy.
Joseph Henrich, Robert Boyd, and Peter J. Richerson, “The Puzzle of Monogamous Marriage”
Christopher Kaczor, “The Perils of Polygamy”