Atheists seem to be usually open minded, so I'm wondering your thoughts on incest. I see no moral or ethical problem with it as long as no children are born out of it or are involved. I've told people this before and I'm told I'm sick and disgusting, yet every objection I've heard against it has no logic behind it.

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Am I assuming you are speaking of adult consensual incest?  The main issue is that there is always

a chance of having offspring.  In circumstances where one person is totally sterile, than consenting adults can do whatever consenting adults wish to do.  But, if that isn't the case, the risk ot having a baby with congenital birth defects is too great and it is unfair to the baby to start off life that way.





Yes. I meant consensual incest. There is a chance of offspring, but as you said, if one of the two is sterile then I don't see a problem. I think abortion is an option if you conceive a child with a family member. Of course I think it is the couple's responsibility to use condoms/birth control/vasectomy/etc.


I think people are way too close minded about this. It seems like it's a knee-jerk reaction to say, "Oh incest is terrible!" even when you explain you're talking about consenting adults practicing it and safeguarding against children.

Thoughts on incest? None. You'd understand if you ever saw my sisters.



My feelings are in line with Hugh's.  I've been thoroughly programmed against it by my female family members.  Ick.


Technically, incest is a good way to clean up a gene pool, so the argument against children from the union isn't a valid one.  That's how livestock breeders improve their herd.  European royalty is just a very bad example of how you go about it.  They didn't remove the culls from the breeding pool, so you end up with the family's recessive, weak traits rising to the surface, rather than being minimized.  After a while, it becomes some sick mark of royalty and being 'better' than the commoners.


So, logically nothing wrong with it, but still ... ick.

  • I can't say I know how this works, but most sibs that are raised together have no interest in each other sexually.  In fact, it is usually an opposite reaction.
Yeah, but I have confirmation from my friends, about my sisters and mother.
This is called the Westermarck Effect, just so you know.
The only other argument is that with someone in your family, you are going to have to deal with them most likely for the rest of your life, which could be reeeeeaaaally awkward and uncomfortable if things don't work out. That's still not the same as "it's wrong".



The answer to the question depends partly in the context of the question.  First, is it hypothetical, or a question about your experience, or the experience of someone you know? 


Second, are the individuals both adults, both teenagers, or one adult and one teenager or child? 


Assuming the question is purely hypothetical, there are some examples that can be drawn from.  Here is a Slate article on recent events regarding incest.  In a world of "for" and "against", the author was very much "against".  Agree or not with his points; basically he argues that incest destroys a family structure, even when the participants are both adults.


If there is a big power differential, it's impossible to consider incest as any less heinous than rape.  An adult with a child or teenager, who seduces or coerces sex from the younger person, commits an act that severey damages or destroys that younger, vulnerable person's concept of sexual relationship and corrupts their interactions with authority figures and seniors.  It's similar to pedophilia (if adult with child, it actually IS pedophilia), but worse because it's being done by a family member who should be protecting, not exploiting, the child. 


If the power differential is smaller but still unequal and involving someone vulnerable, such as older sibling with younger sibling, then I suspect it still distorts the more vulnerable person's world view and may give them severe problems later in life.   It is still a form of exploitation.


That leaves "equal", such as 2 adult siblings, sister and brother, or same sex; or full-fledged adult parent and child.  Without that power differential that causes exploitation, it's harder to come up with an argument against.  Assuming no children result.


I won't pontificate further, not knowing the context.  If there is a situation of abuse in your background (you were abused or taken advantage of), I think counseling is a good idea.  The person who is abused is never at fault.


Not meaning to accuse or over speculate, it's just that the only way to find context is to read between the lines, and in the end it's like reading tea leaves.

Children who grow up together rarely choose incest willingly, instead it is often a sign of a very dysfunctional family unit while growing up. Even if they call it "consensual"; because there is a reason the Westermarck Effect did not form properly in that household. However, incest among family members separated at a young age is actually pretty common. Siblings split up, sons given up for adoption, etc. And the result is a confusion of the body because the person is similar (appearance and pheremones) but unknown, and the result tends to be a sexual attraction.


One generation of inbred children would not be likely to come to harm, as it only increases the odds of genetic abnormalities that run in the family, but it does not ensure them. It is when multiple generations happens that they begin to obviously express, as was seen in many royal families of history.



I personally am entertained by incest portrayed in anime (Japanese cartooning), but do not feel the same attraction for it when it's expressed in more realistic media.



Not having a sister I can't  identify with the Westermarck Effect because I don't honestly know how I'd feel.  Growing up in a lower income neighborhood a lot of my friends were in dysfunctional families of some type and I can recall 4 kids I knew that were screwing their sisters, all were under 18, and in 3 cases it was an older sister. I also knew of several cases in which a father was screwing their daughter but at the time (1950's) there wasn't a general public awareness or concern among adults about this type of incest, although, it was common knowledge among the kids in the neighborhood. .

However, I did have a cousin who was a month older than I was that I had a long list lewd thoughts about - actually two cousins but one was not in my genetic line - she was adopted.

You are right about the occurrence of “recessive” traits, they don't generally present in a single generation, but rather when there is multiple generations inbreeding, OTOH, the occurrence of favorable traits would also increase. Incest avoidance is a cultural survival mechanism that would be essential to small tribal units over several generations, which is why most primitive cultures were patriarchal local – females married outside of the tribe (also true of Chimpanzee bands) .


The question is, about your cousin, how often did you see her while growing up? Was she like a sibling, or more like a friend? And fantasizing while growing up is normal, regardless.


For those who are attracted while growing up separately, it's called the Genetic Sexual Attraction. I had come across that a while back while doing a paper on incest for a human development class.

She was, in fact, more like a sister than a cousin.  I was at my cousin's house all the time as her 4 brothers were like my own.  I never had any guilt over my sexual fantasies,  but I would never have tried to make them a reality.




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