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Konkvistador comments on Open Thread, November 16–30, 2012 - Less Wrong Discussion

3 Post author: VincentYu 18 November 2012 01:59PM

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Comment author: Konkvistador 26 November 2012 06:45:31AM *  5 points [-]

I've always found it funny how modern society is basically formally libertarian about sex and not nearly anything else. And how deontological Libertarians basically treat everything with the same ethical heuristics modern society uses for sex.

"Anything between consenting adults." and "The state has no buisness in my bedroom." don't seem like things that would only make sense for sex and the bedroom and practically nowhere else. This observation moved me towards thinking they make less sense for sex and the bedroom and more sense for other things than my society thought.

Now obviously our society isn't really libertarian about sexuality. We seem to regulate to death with social and legal norms nearly every aspect of interhuman interaction that is related to sex but isn't sex. This contributes to the desirability of a bare bones approach to sex logistics, the one night stand, if one is doing cost benefit analysis.

Comment author: [deleted] 26 November 2012 01:09:39PM 2 points [-]

I've always found it funny how modern society is basically formally libertarian about sex and not nearly anything else.

Some part of my brain tells me that can't be right... and yet I can't think of any actual counterexample.

Comment author: MileyCyrus 26 November 2012 02:15:26PM *  3 points [-]

I've always found it funny how modern society is basically formally libertarian about sex and not nearly anything else.

Are we? Western republics put a large subsidy on long-term heterosexual monogamy. While the law is difficult to enforce, marrying someone without romantic intentions is a felony in the United States.

Age of consent laws are supposed to protect children, but selective enforcement is often based on the sex of the perpetrator. (The sex of the victim doesn't matter as much. Men who sleep with boys generate about as much outrage as men who sleep with girls, while women who sleep with boys generates as much outrage as women who sleep with girls.) Sometimes the age of consent laws themselves are discriminatory. The US Supreme Court has held that because girls risk pregnancy, states can impose gender-based ages of consent even for oral and anal sex. And while we're talking about anal sex, Canada's age of consent is higher for anal sex than vaginal, unless the anal sex is between a husband and wife.

Incest laws are interesting because they contradict the progressive narrative of a widening tolerance for different kinds of consensual sex. Politicians speak of incest as if it were always non-consensual, such as when they defend abortion rights for cases of "rape and incest". But even in cases where consent is recognized, this is not always a legal defence.

Can't forget about prostitution laws.

Polyamory is legal if you don't seek the government subsidy, but local regulations often prohibit too many non-relatives from living together. Actually, any alternative lifestyle can be crushed if it offends the homeowners association.

Comment author: Konkvistador 26 November 2012 05:59:36PM *  3 points [-]

Prostitution is legal in my country as well as several other European countries but yes in countries where this isn't the case this seems an unprincipled exception. Incest is the big inconsistency nearly everywhere and I've been puzzled by this in the past.

In any case I wasn't talking so much about law but about the kind of ethical reasoning that is acceptable on the matter in polite company. The ethical ideal that people claim to aspire to is very much "between consenting adults". Though that may actually just be poetic language for the tribal attire that corresponds to "I think gay sex is fine.". But even if so libertarian ideals let alone practice are something we've been on net moving away from them on most matters in the past century at least, but moved towards them when it came to sexuality, this seems an anomaly.

With regards to marriage. You aren't under legal obligation to have sex with your married partner, so most of those points are I think covered by this:

Now obviously our society isn't really libertarian about sexuality. We seem to regulate to death with social and legal norms nearly every aspect of interhuman interaction that is related to sex but isn't sex. This contributes to the desirability of a bare bones approach to sex logistics, the one night stand, if one is doing cost benefit analysis.

Comment author: MileyCyrus 26 November 2012 06:54:23PM *  2 points [-]

But even if so libertarian ideals let alone practice are something we've been on net moving away from them on most matters in the past century at least, but moved towards them when it came to sexuality, this seems an anomaly.

In the United States at least, prostitution and incest were legal until the twentieth century. The trend towards consensual sex tolerance is young and could easily reverse.

Comment author: Konkvistador 26 November 2012 07:03:01PM *  1 point [-]

Good counter-point. We certainly think we have more sexual freedom than before but this becomes less obvious the more one considers such details.

Comment author: MileyCyrus 26 November 2012 06:45:07PM *  3 points [-]

You aren't under legal obligation to have sex with your married partner,

That's a grey area. Spouse visas, the biggest marriage subsidy, require you to convince immigration that you are having sex with your spouse. You can go to jail if the prosecution can prove you aren't marrying your spouse for the sex.

Divorce courts can also punish people for their sexual behavior during marriage. If your spouse doesn't approve of you sleeping with other people, ze can get a favorable divorce settlement that gives zir a larger share of the assets and possible child custody (even if your sex life posed no threat to your children). Not having sex with your spouse can also hurt you in court.