|I recently saw the movie Sideways, which touches on (among other issues) the concept of sexual fidelity in romantic relationships. Needless to say, it got me thinking about this topic.|
I would like to pose a hypothetical scenario about an affair, and then open it up to analysis and discussion regarding the morality of the players invovled:
Dick and Jane are in a monogamous romantic relationship, where they have promised not to have sex with anyone else. Jane, while on a business trip out of town, meets Fred (a single man) at a hotel bar. Fred and Jane are attracted to one another, and end up having a one night stand later that night. Fred was aware from the start that Jane was not single.
I think we'd all agree that Jane's actions are immoral. She has initiated fraud against a romantic lover, and betrayed his trust. If she wished to have sex with other people, she should have either re-negotiated the terms of their relationship - or, if Dick refused - she should have terminated her relationship with him. That much is cut and dry to me.
Objectively speaking, though, what is to be said of the morality of Fred's actions? As I see it, there are three possible interpretations:
1. Fred was aware of Jane's other relationship, and was thus knowingly contributing to her corruption. Fred's actions are therefore as equally immoral as Jane's.
2. Fred was contributing to Jane's corruption, but since he was not directly initiating fraud or violating someone's trust, his actions are immoral, but less so than Jane's.
3. In a casual sex encounter, it is understood that both parties are operating out of their own volition, and that people are mainly trading physical and erotic values. Jane's morality outside of her dealings with Fred is thus not important. Fred's has not behaved immorally.
Personally, I think number two describes how I feel about this, but I would like to hear arguments for one or three if others feel differently. Perhaps I'm even overlooking a fourth interpretation which is more accurate. Let's hear from you SOLO!