Whose Ethics Are They Anyway?

This article has been updated and can now be found here.

4 thoughts on “Whose Ethics Are They Anyway?

  1. For me ethical non-monogamy has just meant honest non-monogamy. My only poly relationship so far was one that I thought was handled ethically, but it turned out that he had just been using polyamory a way to rationalize constantly lying to me. But you’re right that the term is cloudy. My ex’s ethics make him feel that lying to the many women he is sleeping with is the right thing to do because he thinks that it is better to lie than to potentially hurt someone’s feelings. In the end I considered it an “unethical” relationship because so many women were lied to that not all of the girls he was sleeping with were consenting to be non-monogamous, and because of his constant lying to me, I was never given the opportunity to consent to the full extent of what my ex was choosing to do sexually. Because if I had known that the women he was sleeping with didn’t know that I was his live in long term primary partner, I would never have given my support for him to have sex with them. So for me it’s the consenting part that is key to non-monogamy being ethical. Everything else can be negotiated and if everyone gets all the honest information than I believe that individuals are free to make their own choices from there. But if any detail is kept secret, you lose your ability to consent, and to me that’s clearly and inarguably unethical. Everything else though requires context and flexibility. Nietzsche writes a lot about how ethics and the idea of right and wrong prevent us from actually growing as individuals and as a species. Good and bad are conflated and confusing terms.

    Thanks for this article. Helped me make sense of some of the pain I went through with my ex and our unethical non-monamous relationship πŸ˜•

  2. This is excellent, Mariposa, and very thought provoking. I shall definitely try and use the term ‘Honest’ Non Monogamy, and hope it catches on with others too. Thank you. πŸ™‚

  3. While I appreciate how challenging it is when people express conflicting perceptions of ethics, I don’t think this can be avoided, since we inevitably move to expressing objective (not just subjective) ethical claims even when we theoretically deny ethical objectivity is possible.

    Here are some examples of objective ethical claims in what you’ve said above:

    “Assuming that our individual ethics need to apply to everyone is oppressive.”

    “You can behave like an jerk, or you can behave like a decent human being.”

    “I think everyone has the right to choose, define, and articulate what works for them, without imposing it (by force or by implication) on others.”

    “…isn’t so much about subjective ethics, as it is about honesty, and full transparency in relationships”

    Concepts like oppression, decency, rights, imposition, and honesty (with the key related concept of consent) are intended in these statements as objective ethical concepts as I read your meaning. By advocating them for everyone, you are saying everyone “ethically ought” to practice them.

    If you don’t intend these as objective ethical concepts you would have to say it is okay for people to oppress, are indecent, violate rights, impose upon others, and are dishonest because that’s their subjective ethical position on these things.

    I think you mean they shouldn’t, though you want to substitute “cool and uncool” for “ought and ought not.” This seems to me mere semantics.

    I don’t think what you’re meaning is if someone happens to think what you think is cool then they should act on those ideas, otherwise…that’s cool too! I think you mean you find these “cool” things right, and the “uncool” things wrong.

    There are objective ethics and we grope our way toward them. Discussions on what is objectively ethical need to keep happening and we need to explore this area together. You’ve contributed to that exploration by affirming what you think is ethical here.

    Thanks! πŸ™‚

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