Recently in the news, it has been reported that hackers have hacked into a website which facilitates extramarital affairs. The ethics of hacking are considered in Article No 46, but in this article we’ll think about the ethics of having an extramarital affair.
Surely, most people would say that extramarital affairs are unethical because basically, you are lying to your spouse and reneging on your marriage promise. However, there may be some exceptions. If your spouse knows you are having an affair and thereby tacitly agrees to it, there is no ethical issues. You are not lying or cheating and there has been an agreement that the marriage vows have been suspended. Perhaps, in these circumstances the liaison should not be called an “affair”.
However, what about the case where a woman claims that it is okay to have an affair because her husband is so very incapacitated that there is no sexual relationship in the marriage? Well again, if there is agreement, there is no ethical issue. What if the husband is so ill with say, Alzheimer? One could take this to the extreme where the husband does not recognise his wife and cannot hold a conversation at all. Say this has been going on for two years. On the one hand, it could be said that the wife is still cheating. Yet on the other hand we could say that we would understand the cheating in these difficult circumstances. And so the unethical act is acceptable.
However, how do we get around this problem of an unethical act being ethical (acceptable)? What we would be saying is that there are degrees of ethicalness. Perhaps one way to get around this ethical dilemma would be to say that for all intents and purposes the marriage, whist still in force in law, has spiritually ended.
Of course what we have to add is that website owners that encourage and facilitate people to be unethical, are themselves being unethical.