Suspicious: I suspect my long-time business partner of corrupting our venture's bylaws to give him lopsided gains from our joint efforts. Confronting him might devastate our relation, but I have to know. What should I do?
Everyone has failed to mention the elephant in the living room when it comes to marriage & children , and business relationships as opposed to a "significant other" & trust. That is the role of the State in our interpersonal relationships. Paternity is important because it lays responsibility for support (i.e. resources) for children on someone, even if that someone isn't the biological parent. (As in the case of LA wherein the spouse is considered to be the parent, for example.) Marriage was once the instrument the State used to help insure, albeit imperfectly, individual responsibility for children. The rise of the welfare state, access to divorce & abortion, the sexual revolution, DNA testing etc. has allowed individuals to abandon, shirk, or otherwise bail on financial responsiblity for children collectively. Consider the case of a biological father who relinquished his parental rights so a step-father could adopt, but that person did not adopt. When the parties divorced, the biological parent was told he could not sign away the child's right to financial support, nor could the biological aprents contract to do so by an agreement even if it was approved by a legal document. Responsibility reverted to the biological aprent even though he believed he was legally no longer the parent. Trust, as an emotional component of an interpersonal relationship, is akin to a deeper social need for "good faith" in business and other contractual relationships on which social order is based. Our's is a social contract society with or without a license, permit, formal contract, or other paper proof of intent. DNA and other trust-exploding technology become mighty inconvenient for the State because it makes keeping social order (and social roles assist in social order) more difficult. Ask the IRS to trust you and see what happens if there is suspicion you're a cheat --- there are situations where the state has a vested interest in knowing (about income) and not knowing ( about paternity that relieves financial repsonsibility for children). As for individuals - remember the adage, the truth shall set you free? It will also make you a prisoner of choice, forcing you to make decisions you may not like making. But, are you going to live life life as a weenie or as an adult - and perhaps have to make difficult, moral choices and live with your decisions? That is the question as the root of the original question.
Robin,The oddity of Carolyn Hax's advice to the potential-cuckold has been picked up in other parts of the blogosphere as well. One particulary entertaining one is Roissy in DC's take on it:
It is also interesting that some of your female readers take the "what's the big deal?" line on paternity-fraud. Either they naively don't understand how this means genetic metadeath for the cuckolded chump, or alternatively they hemselves see cuckolding as a legitimate evolved tactic. I hope it is the former.
"Betrayal" is a subjective condition, and truly neutral third parties may not have sufficient information on what is considered betrayal to accurately assess and advise. There are situations where a subject "has to know", despite the foreknowledge that seeking the truth will irreversibly change their lives in unpredictable ways.From the view of the child in your scenario, there may be an emotional and subjective need to accurately know their parentage. A neutral third party would likely caution against digging into it, particularly if the parents have an emotional commitment to keep the knowledge hidden and questioning their decision may be viewed as betrayal. This is a common situation for adopted children.
To HH:"I don't know what alternative regime you're proposing [free love?], but that's the one that would be at odds with reality."I'm proposing that people who can control themselves just like they control their envy stand to benefit themselves, and also make less of an ass of themselves. Also, some of us don't get jealous like that - not I, said the fly.
The difference in the analogy is that most businesses operate in a competitive marketplace. So customers might be inconvenienced, but rarely will they have a huge decrease in consumer surplus, while children's parents are a monopoly provider so splitting up that partnership carries larger costs.
Why are people talking about cheating/faithfulness? Isn't this about paternity fraud and the desire (need?) people have to pass on their genes? With modern technology (IVF, contraception), these are no longer necessarily related.
I've just talked to a second religious person who, after being presented with it, agreed with the statement: "I would do everything exactly the same way whether there is or isn't a God."
I'd guess there's a strong connection here.
I'll have to disagree with you. You may find the concept of cheating idiotic, but it's a reality: people get jealous and demand faithfulness from their partners. I don't know what alternative regime you're proposing [free love?], but that's the one that would be at odds with reality. Like it or not, jealousy is in us - you may prefer if it weren't, but it is. You may think we'd all be better off if it didn't exist, and that's a highly questionable proposition. Yes, maybe it'd be better if nothing upset but we could still derive joy from things. However, I doubt it's plausible that we could derive as much utility from a successful relationship as we do now if we didn't get jealous in cases of cheating. I don't see how it's possible to value something if you have it but not value it if you don't have it. I don't think there's a way to tell if utility would be higher under an alternative regime, but I don't find those kind of thought experiments particularly instructive anyway. I know I'll get jealous if I get cheated on, and I'll go on trying to prevent that feeling. Like a rational person would.
the interests of children might trump the interests of parents, but they shouldn't trump the interests of unrelated strangers duped into financially supporting said children
In Louisiana, if a child is conceived while a couple is legally married to one another, the child legally is that of the husband at the time of conception, even if they were living apart and had not had sex together in years, and even if DNA proves that he could not be the father. On the other hand, if the woman is not married at the time of conception, she can use DNA results to force legal paternity and its responsibilities on the man. Many a Louisiana man has been required to support the children of his wife's lovers. Consequently, very little good can come from asking in Louisiana, especially if you believe yourself to be happy. The pendulum has swung.
Julian Morrison said, "Cheating in a relationship has the unusual property that only preference makes it cheating. There is a third (and IMO massively underused) option besides "confront" and "ignore", and that's "coexist" as a threesome...but I can't see good modern-human reasons; this is a situation where instinct ought to be overruled."Of course, the extent to which most people value (or can use) reason is rather limited. I would agree - that is to say, I have always felt the very concept of 'cheating' in a sexual relationship as idiotic and counter-productive for all involved. The problem is that most people still live in 10k BC, because they know absolutely nothing. It's also a primary reason they're unhappy in modern society, IMO, because they're too dumb and arbitrarily opinionated to adjust themselves to reality.
Robin, that was trite. If you're cheated in business, you lose real wealth. That's not "only preference" as long as money is an instrumental necessity for implementing the rest of your utility function. But exclusivity in a relationship really is just a preference for humans (versus for genes). Overriding it might very plausibly be a net win.
"This problem also seems to stem from an idea of trust as binary. The woman is either honest or dishonest. Therefore, she's cheated or she's an honest woman. If I ask for a test, I must think she's cheated, since if I thought she was an honest woman there would be no point. This mental model doesn't recognize me thinking she's honest with probability .9999 but assigning huge disutility to that .0001 if it's true."
I have to disagree here. Honest IS binary: either someone was honest, or they were not. [The disutility of dishonesty, of course, varies: if a lover lies tells you the dinner you made for her was great, there's not much damage done. If, however, she cheats on you, the disutility is huge. ] I will agree that our brain probably can't picture it this way: either you picture her faithfully rejecting an advance, or in the arms of another. Hard to picture any mixture of the two.
Additionally, we do tend to treat a person as having been honest with a .999 probability, though we'd probably say "she very likely didn't cheat." In fact, you engage in this process, mostly subconsciously, all the time. If your significant other goes on a business trip or out with opposite-sex friends, there is a very high probability she didn't do anything wrong. Despite the huge disutility of cheating, the expected value of the confrontation is negative: you'll start a fight, and possibly a breakup, with little to gain. However, if your significant other were to spend a week on vacation with an ex, the probability of dishonesty goes up and you might find it "profitable" to snoop and see what happened.
I'm pretty sure this computation is often subconscious, and is experienced as the emotion of jealousy. Unfortunately, the triggers of jealousy don't very well correspond to the actual probabilities and disutilities you face, which is why these feelings confuse us when we try to rationalize them, as the above-mentioned advice-seeker did.
Funny thing, I somehow got the idea that this site was for people who would always rather know the truth, even if knowing doesn't do anything but make them unhappy. Dunno why I ever thought that.
People who don't question their religion too closely because they benefit from being part of a religious community are still a bunch of contemptible morons,right?
Wouldn't a partner who knows you won't "gamble your relationship" on a call-out be more likely to cheat?
And why are we treating the suspicion and the act of cheating as if they were equal infractions? A positive and a false positive should not have the same absolute value. What happened to glasnost?
If your solution to a relationship problem is to communicate less, congratulations; you've found your relationship problem.
And perhaps a suspicion that you choose not to address just wasn't a strong enough suspicion. Does anyone on this board actually currently suspect their S.O. has cheated or told them a significant lie, but intends to do nothing about it?
And what weight do you assign the sunk costs of a relationship and how do you measure that against a future with a person willing to perpetrate and perpetuate a lie at your expense? If you (the solipsist) throttle your knowledge about people close to you in order to preserve your comfortable state, you risk misunderstanding their future behavior.
Consider this: jealous partners are perceived to be equally loving or more loving than non-jealous partners. If this is true (sorry, I don't have a reference for the study) then that ought to significantly reduce our estimate of the costs incurred by false positives. My conclusion: Better to know (or at least seek to know).
I have read at least three science fiction stories in which reliable, covert lie-detection is developed, and the story concludes that humanity is better off without it. I offer this not as fictional evidence, but as real-world evidence that the authors of these stories are advising everyone that they're better off being lied to by everyone around them (and failing the Egan test: http://eidolon.net/eidolon_....