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The Alligator River Story.

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But what that says to me is that Abby had the equations (i.e. te principles) lined up correctly. She just failed to put the right values in for the variables and came up with a greater than, when it should have been a less than.

Sex is an intimate activity and a much more volunerable situation for a woman . The most ignorant woman on earth, if moral, and especially if in love, would have had a big red STOP sign flashing in her mind. In case of an emergency, a woman would have to act against that stop mechanism and what would allow her to do that would have been the importance of a value being in jeopardy. This was not the case here.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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I think the worst perpetrator of immorality is the ethics professor who came up with this scenario and expects us to classify the characters. It just doesn't apply to what one needs when one thinks about the necessity of having a morality. For example, just what qualities did Gregory have that Abigail was so much in love with him -- blank out! And why would Gregory be interested in Abigail -- blank out!

This is kind of a luke warm version of the life boat scenario. It's not really an emergency, but it is written up to be one. I mean is it really a disaster requiring Abigail to have sex with a stranger? If your car breaks down and you need to get it to the shop, are women expected to have sex with the tow truck guy? There is virtually no context whatsoever in trying to morally evaluate these characters, which is why there is such an argument going on about it; because everyone is trying to put the situation to a context -- i.e. why didn't they each do something different?

In other words, the whole thing is designed so as to have to take Abigail's emotions as the standard. She wants to be with Gregory and will do anything in order to be with him. That is what some people define as true love. Is Gregory worthy of it? Is Abigail worthy of it? We don't have a clue. Just emotions without any context.

One needs to have the facts and use man's life as the standard in morally evaluating someone, and there are not enough facts to ascertain the morality of the people involved -- i.e. was there no other way to cross the river, did no one else have a boat, did she have to go there right now -- there are just too many questions. If one goes strictly by the facts that are presented, then everyone involved is acting very short-range and is being immoral on those grounds.

So, the top of my list is the guy who came up with this.

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Now if you said that if she hadn't have taken pleasure in Gregory's beating, that you'd place her in my order, then I'd probably concede that the pleasure at his beating might push her past Sinbad, but that's a whole discussion about the compounding of infractions.

Yes, I believe I could get behind that. It's the taking pleasure in it that pushes her over the top into psychopathic, and not merely a gigantic idiot. (As Sophia points out, it was only a few days!

So humor me, and clarify this for me. What is Abby's "highest value"? i.e. what did she sell? I'm trying to smoke out what sort of things people think are intrinsic in the act itself.

I'm not entirely sure what you're asking, but what I was referring to was the fact that she loved Gregory and her goal was an exclusive relationship with him. You don't buy an exclusive relationship at the price of sacrificing exclusivity. Imagine if you really wanted to wash your car, but the bridge was out to get to the car wash. Would you drive your car over the bridge into the lake in hopes of reaching the car wash? Even if you did reach it, your car would be totalled from the water damage. You'd be completely undercutting and destroying the whole point of the endeavor.

Only, we're dealing with things far more valuable and irreplaceable than a mere car. And that's coming from me, a certified car nut.

Edited by Inspector
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I think Abby might have decided to "pay" (for crossing the bridge) for different reasons, which would change my judgement of her actions.

She could have held the mistake that a one time physical act (which she does indeed despise) would not affect her soul. She could have thought that this was the only way to be with Gregory again. In those cases, I would not judge her as immoral. To take a few examples from Ayn Rand's writings, there was Kira, who slept with a man whose opinions she despised to save her lover (Leo). There was Dominique who slept with Keating for the sake of getting over her fear of the world (not living as a prisoner anymore). Just the act itself does not provide enough information to judge her morality.

Gregory seems A-OK to me.

That bully who beats Gregory up - he's the worst, of course (because he thinks the least).

The boat dude, he's disgusting, due to his sexual views. Basically he treats women physical objects with vagina while ignoring their nature. So Yuck. This sort of evasion is bad, but not as bad as the bully's. It's a fine line though.

The dude who did not intervene was good. I don't see what Abby wanted from him anyway... To beat up the boat keeper so she can sail? She ought to keep such mess to herself.

And what's up with gloating at Gregory being beaten up? Pathetic. THIS, and not the act of sex, brings her very close to the bully (yet under the sex-with-a-tree-err..-I-mean-woman guy) in the list of morality.

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She could have held the mistake that a one time physical act (which she does indeed despise) would not affect her soul. She could have thought that this was the only way to be with Gregory again. In those cases, I would not judge her as immoral. To take a few examples from Ayn Rand's writings, there was Kira, who slept with a man whose opinions she despised to save her lover (Leo). There was Dominique who slept with Keating for the sake of getting over her fear of the world (not living as a prisoner anymore).

I think you are trying to say that Abigail had some sort of ideals that drove her to having sex with Sinbad as passage payment, when there is no evidence of this.

Besides, I think you misunderstand Miss Rand's female motivation. If a woman has to have sex with a Soviet prison commandant in order to get him out of there, then it is only a physical act with no further significance -- but only in that type of situation. One ought not to have sex with someone else just to be with the one that one loves. For example, if a girl wanted to be with me, yet didn't have airfare to get here, and had sex with four different truck drivers as payment to get here; well, I don't think I'd be capable of touching her in that manner. If sex is that cheap to her, then why would I want it from her? It's kind of like if someone rational married a hooker -- the only way she could make an exception for him is to not have sex with her lover.

Regarding Dominique; she wanted to destroy herself, and so had sex with someone she despised. Then, since that didn't work, she married and had sex with the second to the lowest man on earth. So, in each of these cases, she wasn't aiming at getting a value.

Abigail and that guy who beat up Gregory belong together. Then they could go rob banks because they don't have any other option, and get killed by the police in an armed robbery attempt. That's what I think of them.

To reply to Kendall: I think you are trying to say that a woman's prior discretions or indiscretions are none of her current boyfriend's business. And to a large extent, I agree. But who one has sex with and for what reason says a lot about someone's character. I'm not looking for a virgin, but if she had sex with some nobody for no good reason, she would become less in my evaluation. I dated a girl once who tried to get me jealous after we broke up by sleeping with a fellow worker, and I have to tell you it didn't work. He was an OK guy, but I offered her a lot more, which she rejected. So, she proved to me that she wasn't worthy of my affections. In a similar case, I would side with Gregory and not take her.

Edited by Thomas M. Miovas Jr.
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  • 3 years later...

I did this activity a few months ago. Here's what our class came up with:

From most morally repulsive to least:

1) Greg: His girlfriend made the ultimate sacrifice for him (besides death), and he threw her away.

2) Ivan (he was John in our version): By not wanting to get involved, John was essentially the same as Greg. In our version, he was a mutual friend. Is that really what a friend does?

3) Sinbad: The only thing that he did was make a business arrangement. Albeit a crude one by our standards, but a business arrangement nonetheless.

4) Sluggo: At least he did something for Abigail. A true friend.

5) Abigail: She made the ultimate sacrifice for Greg. She gave everything away so that she could see Greg again.

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I did this activity a few months ago. Here's what our class came up with:

From most morally repulsive to least:

1) Greg: His girlfriend made the ultimate sacrifice for him (besides death), and he threw her away.

2) Ivan (he was John in our version): By not wanting to get involved, John was essentially the same as Greg. In our version, he was a mutual friend. Is that really what a friend does?

3) Sinbad: The only thing that he did was make a business arrangement. Albeit a crude one by our standards, but a business arrangement nonetheless.

4) Sluggo: At least he did something for Abigail. A true friend.

5) Abigail: She made the ultimate sacrifice for Greg. She gave everything away so that she could see Greg again.

Oh my Gawrsh, what a completely stupid, backwards list!!! Your class apparently suffers from the worst sort of altruistic delusions about morality and love. No wonder people behave so screwed up today.

Someone needs to smack your class upside the head with the simple truth that "sacrifice" should not play any part in romance. Also, the idea that the "rejection" of someone else's "sacrifice" makes one immoral is repulsive.

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  • 4 months later...

There are bridges and riverboats in this scenario, which to me implies an economy that has at least reached barter level, if not actual currency. It’s hardly likely that the understood payment for water passage is sexual favors. Both Abigail and Gregory’s reactions indicate that monogamy is the norm in this scenario. Sinbad is not engaging in price discrimination, Sinbad is engaging in sexual harassment.

Abigail wants to see her lover, who lives across the river. There is no bridge. So she does the logical thing, she goes to see a riverboat captain. She rejects his inappropriate offer and goes to her friend Ivan. She does not go to Ivan because Ivan is a riverboat captain. She goes to Ivan to explain her plight in order that he might do something about it. It’s not clearly stated, but I think it’s fairly safe to say that her goal is to convince Ivan to convince Sinbad to take something more sensible for passage, like money.

Ivan does nothing. Is he afraid of Sinbad? Who knows? Not enough information.

Abigail decides that it’s worth it. Silly? Yes. But it hardly matters how silly the product/service is when you have the means and desire to pay. (See Abu Dhabi's Solid Gold Mercedes). And when she gets across the river does she hide the truth? Could she have? Easily! But she doesn’t, she tells Gregory everything and Gregory breaks up with her. In her sorrow she tells Slug what happened. She doesn’t ask Slug to beat up Gregory, Slug does it of his own free will. Then Abigail laughs that Gregory is getting beaten up for breaking up with her.

Now that the values are all in place, it’s clear that there really is not enough information to make judgment calls. But taking everything at face value….

  1. Sinbad: For engaging in sexual harassment
  2. Ivan: He doesn’t do anything to help Abigail deal with Sinbad, despite being her friend.
  3. Slug: For beating up people that haven’t done anything to him personally.
  4. Abigail: For laughing at Gregory when he got beat up. (And possibly for telling Slug knowing what he would do)
  5. Gregory: Had a value system, put it in effect. Perhaps a bit unfair if he hadn’t told her his value system beforehand, but she had to have known it was a risk; otherwise why turn down Sinbad’s offer the first time?

I still say the scenario is ridiculously sparse with details though. And it uses too many power phrases, designed to catch the reader’s eye. Like “cast her aside with disdain” or “amorous escapade” Plus, watch how additional information could change the meaning of the action entirely (e.g. “Abigail turned to Slug…her brother, with her tale of woe)

Edited by Adeona
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