The tradition of the arranged marriage has become a controversial issue in the recent years. Can parents decide such an important life choice for their children? What if the children do not have mutual affection? This paper examines the ethics of this scenario based on a dilemma.
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Tariq is 17 years old. He is studying to work for a petroleum company. He loves and respects his family but is also afraid of his father, Abdulla. Abdulla is a very strict person who values his reputation above all else. One day, Tariq called his father to arrange a meeting in hopes of discussing an important issue with him. Tariq has not called his family in some time, so his mother Sheikha started feeling like the family is drifting apart. She told this to Abdulla, and he got an idea. To bring his family closer, Abdulla decided to invite all his extended family on the day Tariq was supposed to visit. When Tariq arrived, he was shocked to see his whole family waiting for him. Before Tariq could say anything, his father decided to throw a celebration. During the festivities, Abdulla announced to everyone: “To bring the two our families together I decided to Marry Tariq to Eman, my brother’s daughter!” Eman had feelings for Tariq but could not express them. Unfortunately for her, Tariq already loved another girl and wanted to talk to his father about marrying her. Should he decide to stand up and object to his father, or stay quiet and marry a girl for whom he has no affection? This dilemma concerns all three points of the ethical triangle: The situation, the person, and the norms.
Possible Courses of Action
There are two possible courses of action in this dilemma. The first is for Tariq to say nothing and get married to Eman. The second is for him to object to his father and risk angering him and possibly losing the love of his family. Both actions can be analyzed by linking them to the three sides of the triangle.
The situation angle shows there is a chance that he grows to love Eman during their marriage. However, he would have to lose the person he loves right now. His family would be happy to see him married to the person they chose, and his father would save his reputation. However, he could end up in an unhappy marriage with no one being happy (Al-Darmaki et al., 2014).
Analyzing his personal feelings shows how conflicting he is about this decision. He has no affection toward Eman so he would have to struggle to accept this outcome. His love for another woman could lead him to cheat on his wife making the marriage even more stressful. Tariq loves his family and does not want to let them down. His fear of his father would also play into choosing this outcome.
The norms consider arranged marriage a tradition so they would support him choosing to stay quiet. This action would also improve Abdulla’s reputation among the family (Soffan, 2016).
If Tariq chooses to oppose his father, it will make other outcomes possible. Tariq could marry the girl he loves against the will of his father. While it would undoubtedly sour their relationships, it does not guarantee that his family would see it this way.
Personally, it would support his feelings of love, and he might even feel righteous doing it. However, his relationships with his family would be at risk.
The norms would not support this decision because it would break tradition. This action would also negatively affect the reputation of his father.
Care ethics focus on maintaining respectful relationships with people (Shafer-Landau, 2015). Going by this theory, Tariq can justify putting his personal feelings aside to save the maximum amount of positive relationships. His family would be happy, Eman could be happy, and his father would feel like he helped bring his family together.
Contractarianism argues that law and social norms are above all (Shafer-Landau, 2015). Using this theory, he could justify staying quiet to uphold tradition and not break any social norms.
Empathy ethics dictate that an ethical action should consider the feelings of others. Tariq can justify not saying anything by thinking about his father’s feelings, the feelings of Eman and his family(Shafer-Landau, 2015).
Egoism theory states that maximum personal gain makes for an ethical decision (Shafer-Landau, 2015). Tariq can choose this theory to disregard any negative outcomes and follow his personal feelings. His relationships will be affected, but he would do what he desires to do.
Consequentialism is a utilitarian theory that before an action is made, the best alternative should be considered (Shafer-Landau, 2015). He can justify this action by examining the negatives of a loveless marriage. Arranged marriages often do not have children (Ghimire & Axinn, 2013). Without him, she would be able to find another suitor (Gupta, 2013). Although arranged marriage is a tradition, it is on the decline so that this action would be understood (Allendorf & Pandian, 2016).
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Virtue ethics argue ethics argue that an action can be justified based on virtues. Tariq is an honest young man and it would be considered virtuous to say the truth (Shafer-Landau, 2015).
Personal Response and Conclusion
Personally, I support objecting in this case. Going by the consequentialism theory, I analyzed the negative of arranged marriages and found that it would likely result in no one being happy.
Such ethical dilemmas are still prevalent in our lives. Every time a young man has to make a decision with severe consequences. Perhaps in the future, we will be able to resolve these issues with better communication.
Al-Darmaki, F., Hassane, S., Ahammed, S., Abdullah, A., Yaaqeib, S., & Dodeen, H. (2014). Marital satisfaction in the United Arab Emirates: Development and validation of a culturally relevant scale. Journal of Family Issues, 37(12), 1703-1729. Web.
Allendorf, K. & Pandian, R. (2016). The decline of arranged marriage? Marital change and continuity in India. Population and Development Review, 42(3), 435-464. Web.
Ghimire, D., & Axinn, W. (2013). Marital processes, arranged marriage, and contraception to limit fertility. Demography, 50(5), 1663-1686. Web.
Gupta, B. (2013). Where have all the brides gone? Son preference and marriage in India over the twentieth century. The Economic History Review, 67(1), 1-24. Web.
Shafer-Landau, R. (2015). The fundamentals of ethics. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Soffan, L. (2016). The women of the United Arab Emirates. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.