From Darwin to Eternity

Evolutionary moral psychology.

Why We Think Monogamy Is Normal

For most of human existence, men and women have regarded polygamy as a normal and often advantageous marriage arrangement. In modern Western societies, however, monogamy is seen as normal and polygamy as an "exotic exception". How and why did this transition occur? Read More

Yet another interesting

Yet another interesting theory that seems to add fuel to the notion that monogamous societies are actually on the whole, better for men. While the biological impulse may be to cast seed as widely as possible, that turns out to be bad for the male group as a whole since it has historically led to (a) insufficiently resourced children disowned by their fathers or (b) children (and mothers) competing for the limited resources of one overburdened father (or husband) or (c) men unable to find mates. The polygmaous Mormons continue to prove this, expelling their young men when they decline to wait their turn to be given a wife.
P.S> FYI: I'm not sure the Old Testament does prescribe polygamy. Often the polygamy it records leads to no good: Isaac vs Ishmael, the feuding of Jacob's children, King David's marrying Bathsheba. But it certainly doesn't prohibit it. People sometimes point to
1 corinthians 7:2 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corinthians%207:2,1%20Co...) in the New Testament as an endorsement of monogamy

Not so fast

I actually don't think that this article says anything about monogamy being good for modern man. All it says is that imposed monogamy WAS better for warring nations because it provided more men, and more taxes than polygynous tribes. Nothing more. I would say that monogamy has been a double edged sword for modern males. With the estimated infidelity rate put at somewhere between 30 and 60% of supposedly monogamous individuals, there are obviously some problems with the model. I'm certainly not suggesting a return to polygyny, however, there are other models available. This article doesn't even mention more modern ideas of polyamory, or polyfidelity, where groups of adults male and female are given sexual freedoms within a framework of honesty, accountability and responsibility. On it's own this article is a really interesting analysis of the state we currently find ourselves in if you live in a modern western country. To draw any other conclusions from it it to project your own values onto the science.

In favour of men

I'm just confused, as I don't have as much a steeping in the topic. From reading Sex at Dawn what I gathered was that in tribal relations (perhaps much prior to the examples mentioned here) both men AND women had multiple partners. Here this article seems to be saying that it was only men who acquired multiple wives, and furthermore marriage from my understanding is only 4000 years old. What about before that? I don't feel like this is a truth - that it was all for men always. As a woman I would have rather have 2 husbands back in the day, than be co-married to one man of power. Again as a female I feel I'm being robbed here, and I don't think this is looking far enough into the past. I appreciate the perspective but I want to know more.

Interesting how things

Interesting how things change, but I would question anyone suggesting this means monogamy is unnatural - although I do realise this is not what the article says.

What you're speaking of as socially-imposed is basically just ideology, which is not necessarily something that spreads from the elites downwards, although it can happen that way and then become naturalised as you suggest. However, for as long as we have had communities we have had ideology. It is absolutely essential for any group to operate smoothly. So would it be fair to say polygamy was also socially-imposed? It seems to me, humans can be perfectly happy living either way, but we're probably by and large happiest living as our culture has prescribed from the beginning (this is a general rule, obviously there are exceptions). Presumably, anything we do that is relatively arbitrary - in that both monogamy and polygamy are possible and both as valid as each other - is socially-imposed? Without meaning to be frustrating with this, you can basically say that the behaviour of apes and dolphins is socially imposed - they follow certain rules, just like human beliefs, that are arbitrary (in the way that it would also work if you did things differently) but the simple fact they follow the same rules means that the community works smoothly - if that makes sense. However, you will get different groups of dolphins, say, who follow very slightly different rules. I hope that makes sense. That kind of means that anything socially imposed is not really unnatural or forced upon - but actually the most natural thing we can do (in that many things are rather arbitrary anyway).

Yep, pretty sure I explained myself badly there!

Would most men want another

Would most men want another wife? That's a fairly serious question. I'm of the opinion that's the answer is no. Their first marriage is no festival of joy. And they want more of this? And are they making their wife's life a box of chocolates? Don't think so.One is probably enough.

Zero is even better!

You've no doubt heard the joke: Bigamy is one wife too many; monogamy is the same thing.

You know the punishment for bigamy? Two mother-in-laws.

"I'm of the opinion that's

"I'm of the opinion that's the answer is no. Their first marriage is no festival of joy."

If a marriage is joyless, I think that says more about the people in the marriage than it says about the nature of marriage itself. People who get married and then make choices that don't lead to joy, don't end up with happy marriages, seems to me.

Basis of Arguement Flawed

This theory is based on the assumption that all human relationships are heterosexual and that all polygamous groups involve males who "hoard" females. Cultures have always been more diverse in their orientations and relationships than the writer suggests.

Less than 1% of human

Less than 1% of human populations are polyandrous, so polygamy is de facto hoarding of females, yes. That is accurate.

doing surgery with an axe

This article is like doing surgery with an axe. So many assumptions are made with out examining or mentioning other variables. He blends social science with natural science creating a seemingly more plausible argument but with out making any real examination of either examples. It's junk science for internet consumption.

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Michael Price, Ph.D., is a lecturer at the psychology department at Brunel University, West London. He is also the co-director at the Centre for Culture and Evolutionary Psychology.

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