My wife was talking about some acquaintance. A 52 year old man, making a very good living, divorced his wife of 30 years, then married a 30 year old woman. They had a child, now she’s pregnant again.
Me: She’s pregnant again? Damn, why is the guy having babies again.
Wife: Apparently her parents only acquiesced to their marriage if they had two children.
M: Well, I get that she’s in a hurry to have them, but why did he accept all that.
W: They say her family is loaded, I guess he has to play nice.
M: But the guy was making a very good living before the divorce. In fact he lost his job because of the scandal and now is barely getting by.
W: Yes, he lost it all for her. His wife got the assets, and he lost all his old friends and connections.
M: Is she worth all that? Doesn’t look that hot to me.
W: Not worth it at all. I mean she’s young, but I don’t get it. I never liked the guy anyway, always gave me the creeps.
M: So you think he’s evil.
W: Whatever. Society made him pay; he lost all his assets, his social standing.
M: That’s the thing; I’m not gonna argue against that, I’m all for deterring men from leaving their wives for young pussy, make him pay, ok. But why is he the evil part here?
W: What do you mean?
M: He just looks to me like some old dude who banged a young employee, and while it may have felt good, he probably wasn’t expecting, certainly not willing all that mess to happen.
W: Well, I guess.
M: I mean, if we’re gonna judge people, I propose we judge them according from the distance of their actions from common sense. When I was a teenager I read Schopenhauer’s theory of morality, and he had a pretty neat system: people doing what benefits them is morally neutral. It’s what people do, it’s not good, but people shouldn’t be blamed for pursuing their interest either.
W: Yeah well.
M: Then he said “evil” is when people hurt others even when there’s no benefit to them; while “good”, is when people do things for others even when there’s no benefit to them for doing so.
W: Makes sense.
M: Thing is it’s actually very hard to measure “benefit”. Some people reap a benefit of being altruistic, either because it makes them feel good, or because their signaling benefits them later. And at any rate it isn’t a very good idea to reward selflessness in the abstract, you want to give status to normal, productive people. It’s better to have children than to adopt them. Ideally any moral system must be based on the expected behavior of average people, not in abstract principle.
M: My point being that an old man banging a young woman is certainly not good; but it’s understandable on both biological and purely statistical terms. That’s a common temptation. What is not common though is for a man to leave his wife, his friends, his job, all his previous life, in order to marry and have children with a 30 year old woman. Why would he do so?
W: I was just saying that I don’t get it. You know, his wife, she had supported him while he was young and unemployed, until he was able to make it. They only had one child, but come on. You don’t do that.
M: Well either he’s completely infatuated with the woman; and he doesn’t look like it. Or she make him do so. He forced him some way or another into marrying her, or else.
W: I guess.
M: So in terms of distance from common sense; he’s a dupe for banging a young employee; but she went all the way to make him divorce his dear wife, leave his son, lose his assets and all his social standing. Isn’t she more evil? At least in terms of agency, doing more evil things.
W: Well she got the man she wanted, all for herself, and she got her to marry him and make her two children. She’s doing what’s best for her.
M: Yeah but she could choose. As a young woman she had plenty of options; thousands of good men willing to make children with her. But no, she had to choose an old married man.
W: He had a choice too.
M: Yeah sure he could have chosen not to sleep with a young woman. But again that’s a very common temptation; and given that most men are willing to sleep with young woman; while most young woman aren’t particularly disposed to sleep with old married man, the one who is particularly evil in this circumstance is the woman, not the man. Yeah he’s stupid, shouldn’t have done so. But come on, look at him. He just wanted an easy bang, now he’s making babies at 52. No way he wanted that.
W: So what did he want?
M: I mean in general terms, the best strategy for a man is to keep his family and social standing, and have a discrete mistress on the side. Which is what happens in the vast majority of cases: how many cases of male adultery end with the man divorcing and making babies with the mistress? That’s the woman’s best strategy; and if it succeeds it follows that the responsibility is in the woman.
W: I’m not saying I like her either; she looks evil enough.
M: Flip the story and look it from the other side. The equivalent would be for a young married couple, lower-middle class, with a plain looking woman, her husband, and two plain kids. Suddenly an alpha billionaire straight out of Fifty Shades comes down, seduces the woman, and manipulates her into divorcing her husband and going with him. Then he doesn’t marry her, just takes her abroad, bang her for a couple of months and dump her unceremoniously in some tropical island bungalow with cockroaches the size of rabbits.
W: That’s disgusting.
M: Who’s the most evil here? Note that the woman left her husband and her children. But surely it’s the man who’s more to blame. He could have any woman, but he had to choose a plain housewife with children. She’s a traitorous bitch; but women are known to fall for alpha billionaires. That’s human nature.
W: All I know is they both disgust me and I don’t wanna have anything to do with them.
M: That we can agree on.