[Solved] what is wrong with adultery

Evaluating Adultery

Bonnie Steinbock in her essay “What’s Wrong with Adultery?” starts by quoting the data from studies to show that the number of women who have committed adultery has significantly increased. Despite this increase in female adultery, it is in some degree due to the attitudes changing toward sex and sexuality, but Steinbock thinks that people should use rational justification to evaluate the disapproval of adultery. Then in the rest of the parts of Steinbock’s essay, she is generally arguing against adultery based on the plausible claim that our views toward adultery are varied, and these views are bound to be connected to important conventions about marriage, fidelity, romantic love ( Romeo and Juliet’s case ), the family, jealousy, and exclusivity ( Lewis 500 ). Even though Steinbock’s essay is well presented, the arguments contained in her essay are topically only somewhat sound and somewhat valid. First, Steinbock makes her essay strong by transparently stating that adultery contradicts moral principles because it involves promise-breaking and lying.

A broken promise by one person to be faithful to another is a basic violation of trust. In the other words, a promise of sexual fidelity is pertaining to sex and romantic love. Breaking this promise is a typical sign of betrayal toward “true love.” Lying is another way which is like promise breaking to create distrust, and lying itself is a sort of wrong-doing. As a result of the betrayal and lies, adultery can simply hurt one’s spouse. Since the moral principles are obeyed and believed by most people in our society, adultery should be banned, unacceptable, and thought to be immoral in most cases. Steinbock argues against adultery through a moral approach which meets the mainstream values of our society and should be considered as a strong part of her essay. In addition, besides talking about the strong part of her essay, the weak parts of her essay should also be reviewed. First, in the “trust and deception” section of her essay, Steinbock argues that adultery is different from a criminal offense position such as murder where people use moral rules against them. Hence, adultery is not banned universally because adultery is a private matter. Here, Steinbock commits the fallacy of equivocation which means a word shifts from its meaning from one premise to another. The word adultery shifts its meaning from a criminal offense to a private matter in the same argument. Such a change of meaning always makes an argument invalid and makes the argument unbelievable. Additionally, in the same section, Steinbock denies that practical considerations such as unwanted pregnancies and venereal disease can be used against adultery because not only does adultery face the risk of unwanted pregnancies and venereal disease, but it will also include all non-exclusive sex. This argument is also invalid because the premise does not intend to support its conclusion. Stating the risks adultery and non-exclusive sex will all face does not prove that the risks themselves are not harmful and cannot be used against adultery. On the contrary, for example, venereal diseases are serious illnesses that require treatment. Some venereal diseases such as HIV cannot be cured and may be deadly.

Therefore, if Steinbock wants to prove that the risks such as venereal disease are not reasons for opposing adultery, she needs to provide more reasonable evidence to support her conclusion. Otherwise, it will be difficult to make readers believe what she has written. Moreover, in order to indicate that breaking the promise of sexual fidelity is unacceptable, Steinbock regards sexual infidelity as a cheat by one’s spouse which results in a lack of concern and a desire to cause pain. Then the lack of concern and the desire to cause pain will lead to a lack of love. The fallacy of slippery slope is clearly presented here. Although sexual infidelity may to some degree to be a sign of the lack of love, there is no good reason to think that committing sexual infidelity will actually and finally result in the lack of love. For instance, a married female sex worker may still love her spouse. She sells sex which is mainly due to a financial issue. She makes money by selling sex to support her family and her spouse. In such a case, can we say that sexual infidelity means a lack of love toward one’s spouse? Definitely, the answer is no. Thus, slippery slope here weakens Steinbock’s argument considerably. Furthermore, in “Open Marriage” and “Fidelity as An Ideal” sectors, Steinbock defends the position of rejecting adultery and thinks open marriage is moral by stating that sex which involves physical and psychological exposure shows intimacy and creates trust between a couple. In such a way, sex should be reserved for couples in love and “true love” is based on Romeo and Juliet’s model of love. The author commits selective attention here. She looks at sexual fidelity as the ideal in relationship only through an emotional and psychological way but ignores nonexistent emotional and psychological aspects.

This seriously limits the application of her argument. Overall, based on Steinbock’s essay, the author tends to support the rejection of adultery because it is immoral, and the author does provide an exact example ( The Dick Francis’s Case ) to show the prohibition of adultery is not a moral absolute. She defends the value of fidelity on a particular ideal of married love that depends on what it means to love someone comprehensively and deeply. I do agree with the author that we should treat adultery as an immoral behavior in general, and adultery should not be condoned. However, failing to check all possible evidence and then saying that adultery is wrong is not much help when it comes to specific cases. By contemplating adultery is mainly caused by having an extramarital affair, Steinbock neglects and fails to check other possible reasons that may cause adultery. This makes the application of her argument toward adultery not comprehensive and limited. Hence, based on my opinion, we should evaluate adultery based on all possible reasons. Although adultery is immoral in most cases, we should understand and forgive adultery in some special cases. This does not mean that I commit or encourage adultery. I am just saying that under some special situations, it is possible that one may have reasonable rationale to commit adultery. His or her adultery should be forgiven and understandable in such a case, and three strategies espouse my opinion. First, providing financial support for a family or one’s spouse may be a reason people can use for forgiving adultery. For example, one reason for prostitution is money. Some married female sex workers sell sex because they need money to support their families or spouses ( their spouses may not have jobs or any income).

In this situation, selling sex is a kind of adultery for those married female sex workers which involves sexual infidelity toward their spouses. However, their adultery may be forgiven because without providing sexual service, these sex workers may not earn enough money to support their families. The purpose for committing adultery in this case is to provide financial support. This is a good reason to compromise moral principles. Adultery under this situation should not be considered “immoral” or forbidden. Moreover, avoiding more hurt may be another reason to result in adultery, and the adultery may be understandable in such a case. For example, suppose a husband has a horrible relationship with his wife, and he is always using violence to hurt his wife. Suddenly an affair appears to help the wife
escape this horrible relationship to avoid more hurt, and the wife accepts such an affair. In this case, the cost of staying loyal to one’s spouse is too high and may generate more hurt. There is no need for the wife in such a case to stick with her husband any more. Her husband forces her to accept an affair. Committing adultery to avoid more hurt is justifiable in this case. Furthermore, adultery may be understandable if one’s spouse is paraparlegic. For example, in the Dick Francis’s case which is mentioned in Steinbock’s essay, the wife of Dick Francis is a paraparlegic. That means Francis’s wife is unable to conduct her promise of sexual fidelity toward Francis which results in Francis’s right of having sex with a female indirectly being deprived.

For Francis, the cost of following sexual fidelity with his wife is too high becasse it will be unfair for him to lose his right of having sex with a female forever during the rest of his life. Therefore, looking for an affair is an attractive option for Francis. Also, sexual infidelity is not equivalent to the lack of love. In fact, Francis still loves his wife and continues taking care of her rather than divorcing and forsaking his wife. Based on the cost-benefit analysis and looking up the causality between sexual infidelity and the lack of love, Francis’s adultery should be forgiven. In a short summary, Steinbock shows her attitude against adultery by stating that adultery is an immoral behavior, and adultery is a contradiction toward moral principles. This is the strong part of Steinbock’s essay, and I will also support this idea that adultery is morally wrong because we should not break the commitment or cheat on our spouses during marriage. Even though Steinbock does provide strong reasonable doubts to support her opinions, several fallacies are contained in her essay, and they not only significantly weaken her position but also limit the applications of her arguments.

Although I agree with the author that adultery should not be accepted generally because it is immoral, adultery can be understood and forgiven in some special cases if strong reasonable doubts are prevalent. Forgiveness of adultery in several cases does not mean that I buttress the idea that we should condone any ongoing adultery. Indeed, my overall attitude toward adultery is that we should reject adultery morally but need to evaluate adultery rationally in some cases where the adultery is supported by good reasons.

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