I'm fairly sure most (all) of us feel parent/child incest is wrong, and for fairly obvious reasons. 

However, if a brother and sister are very careful about pregnancy prevention or, better, one or both of them is unable to conceive, what would be wrong with it?

BTW, I'm NOT trying to decide whether to do it with my sister (LOL). This is just a question that came to mind while in a discussion with another person.

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From a purely logical, scientific perspective, I don't see anything wrong with it. But given that we evolved as emotional creatures (like most mammals and unlike robots), I wouldn't ignore possible emotional costs just for the sake of science and logic. I have to admit that I don't know enough about reasonable studies (if they even exist) to declare outright that there is never an extra emotional risk to kids.

Males are typically more dominant than females, leading automatically to an imbalance of power. Could you concede this as a possibility, especially if the male is significantly older? Would you draw any line at all wrt age of consent, especially for the female, or do you just automatically declare equality in such an emotional relationship? (Bringing abusive or imbalanced non-incestual relationships into this argument only highlights what the universal risks are, imho.)

So it largely depends on each situation; but that doesn't mean that reasonable studies should be avoided, or statistical generalizations aren't possible. And any taboo that remains difficult to discuss without prejudice is apt to be emotionally damaging just because of how (culturally) unresolvable it is. Perhaps someday someone will write a book about how incest affected themselves or other couples positively? Any recommendations?

I think the emotional argument is pretty good. Emotions tend to come along with sex. Two unrelated people can more easily put distance between themselves than close relatives.


At the same time, I suspect that more of this sort of incest goes on while people are in their formative years than we might suspect. 

Gotta reply here, no more links left on the last thread:

I just don't think sibling rivalry necessarily introduces so much power that it's substantially different than any other sort of sexual relationship

REALLY???? Please explain this to me further. You don't think the dynamic of competing for parent's attention/affection and or dominance would make throwing a sexual relationship into the mix something to consider..um...wrong? Even if we were talking about two consenting adults who no longer live under their parents roof, what would Thanksgiving dinner taste like sitting next to your brother/lover? What about the emotional response of the female partner and the oxytocin release that would bond her sexually to her brother. (assuming brother / sister for this example). Do these factors not get any worthy consideration? Do we not also consider WHY a brother and sister, or sister/sister or brother/brother would be sexually attracted to one another to begin with. Especially for them both to feel the need/want to have sex. Can you honestly tell me that both partners would be in 100% agreement given the sibling rivalry component on the same level as a husband/wife, wife/wife, husband/husband?

Just food for thought.

I think YOU need to explain how competing for parents' affection COULD fit into a sexual relationship between siblings, especially grown up ones (if you read the original post again, you'll see it didn't dwell on underage siblings). How do you see this rivalry for parents approval working "I want to score with my brother/sister so that I can get a pat on my head from mom & dad?" That's pretty silly, but that seems to be along the lines of what you are asserting. 

Once again, your other objections would seem to apply to any relationship. You don't have to be having sex with a sibling for bonding to occur.

As to why they might be attracted to each other, it might be for the same reasons any two people are so attracted. 

But in the end, I flatly object to your sibling rivalry argument as a factor sufficiently significant as to make it a taboo. 

I do think there are reasons why it's a bad idea, but for me sibling rivalry doesn't even factor in. Normal couples can experience rivalry as well. For example, if both want to be the primary breadwinner.

I can feel your intensity on the matter. Your argument based on sibling rivalry just strikes me as weak since rivalry can rear its head in non-incestuous relationships as well, and often do. Also, believe it or not, there are families where siblings don't feel much rivalry, perhaps simply because their parents don't play favorites.

Sibling rivalry is not simply and only about pleasing mom and dad. It again is a power struggle. To see who can come out on top. It is normal and healthy, and it continues throughout the lifespan. Whether or not a pair of siblings has sibling rivalry at times has very little to do with the parents playing favorites and more to do with personality and temperment of each individual. Of course the parents favoritism can influence this, however it is not the primary cause of sibling rivalry.

You previously stated that you believe that it is understandable why parent/child incest is wrong due to the imbalance of power. LOGICALLY speaking, if that is true, then it is also true that an imbalance of power exists among siblings, making it also wrong. If you then want to elaborate what you define sibling rivalry to mean, how bad it is that opens up another can of worms and distracts from the point I'm trying to make. I suppose we can agree to disagree, but I think you're trying to dance around my point to avoid admiting that I gottcha.

Some cultures encouraged in the past is my understanding. I'm not able to cite examples at this time without further research, but issues of consanguinity are largely a cultural issue. It's a frame of reference thing and therefore of subjective impropriety, even parent/child incest. And last I found myself discussing the issue with someone knowledgeable even the issue of birth defects is not as severe as it's often commonly reported. Early humans were likely to have intercourse with close relatives as the available pool of candidates was fairly tiny. The only issue is the likelihood of passing on and perpetuating existing defects rather than creating new ones (look at the European noble families of years past). What is wrong with it? Absolutely nothing inherently with it. It's an unpleasant idea for our culture and a strong taboo, but so is nudity, cannibalism,  pedophilia, etc. They represent irrational fears that are strongly indoctrinated into our culture. Absolute morality is a theistic concept. There are things that are repugnant to us as a social species but that is just instinct to preserve our continuity as such. The only thing wrong with any of it depends on if you can accept going to jail, prison, or capital punishment. :D

I've read a lot of responses that touch on, or discuss the genetic mutations and other genetic problems inherent with a child produced from an incestuous relationship.  But we have only known about this for a couple of centuries.  The taboo started long before this.  There may be groups of peoples that are still unaware of the effect of genes intermixing, yet they will likely still have a taboo on incest.

So the interesting question is why the taboo, when you set it in the background of genetic ignorance?.

I think perhaps even then they recognized the toxicity of breaking such relationships off, which often occurs.

I don't think that explains the revulsion we might feel at an incestuous relationship.  If we were ignorant of the genetic implications, would it still be taboo?  If so, why?

Nobody feels revulsion at the thought of how complicated a potential break-up might be.  They probably should, but do we really think that would put someone off?

I think the taboo was based on the consequences of the entanglements you speak of becoming a problem. This is often how taboos start - an overgeneralization of an adverse advent without actual understanding its causes. Taboos are a form of traditionalized belief that has been strongly indoctrinated against. It's common for minor preadolescent siblings to sexually experiment with each other (or at least not rare!) according to past clinical studies. It's a learned aversion as are all other taboos. 

Oh, religion shares the same roots as taboos based on the above definitions and the fact that taboos and religions co-exist together is more understandable in this context. Look how many of those taboos relate to sex in general and have a religious backing. It's not an accident.

You're talking about the two people involved, who are driven by their passion. 

I'm talking about the society they're in. 

It's the unfortunate consequences of that passion that could be the cause of their societies folkways as I postulated above. In smaller, more insular cultures individuals are more likely to have a stronger influence in the pattern of such a societies development. In our current Western culture the number of people who have that degree of influence is more circumscribed - but you can see how those people have an effect (U.S. presidents for example). A culture is a dynamic, emergent property of its environment and popular composition. Attempting to compartmentalize the actions of individuals from the their society is often fallacious. 

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