Evolutionary Backgrounds of the Sex Offense: A Dutch Case Study
Ethiek en Maatschappij, November 2012, Volume 14, No. 3, pp. 1-17; English Version, d.d. 2013, May 8
17 Pages Posted: 16 May 2013
Date Written: May 8, 2013
For an important part, moral decisions are determined by unconscious deliberations. If this is true, then we have to know what ultimately drives us in order to understand the foundations of the sense of justice. The authors consider properties of genes the basic drivers of human behavior. In this article they try to analyze how these properties are translated into norms. In biology reproduction is considered to be the main driving force of life. If law serves spreading of our genes, as the authors hypothesize, then we must find that legal rules enhance reproduction or at least the survival of offspring, and thus stability of the group. In the 17th century this indeed seemed to be the case. In the Netherlands adultery, for example, was a crime and accordingly punished. However, in 2009 a Dutch court ruling stated that adultery is a private matter. How can this change be explained? Certainly our biological drives did not change within those few hundred years. Is the law simply adjusting to new circumstances?
Keywords: sex offense, 17th century, Netherlands, defloration, rape, adultery, battle of the sexes, law, biology, evolution, free rider, indirect reciprocity, criminal code
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