This question was closed as opinion based: Is monogamy a human innate behaviour?

I'll bring up the two reasons I've encountered so far. If the authors want to elaborate or explain why my objection is wrong (or better yet vote to re-open the question), that would be appreciated.


I voted to close this because of these two words: "by nature". Neither the question nor the answers define what on earth is "by nature". While OP or someone else don't do it, this question must remain closed.

To which I replied (with grammar fixed):

I don't think questions should be closed because we don't understand the meaning of two words that are well defined in the dictionary, especially when every word thereafter makes the distinction being made abundantly obvious. Furthermore, the classification of primates based on mating behaviour is a scientific endeavour, not something mired in opinion.


...I don't think this question is really answerable, at least in its current form, except for some non-answer where you state that monogamous and non-monogamous relationships exist therefore yes, humans are by nature monogamous and non-monogamous because there they are, in the nature of human society, forming both types.

You first have to litigate "what is nature?"/"what is natural?" and that is wholly off-topic.

The OP has since edited the question to remove the word "natural". In case I was wrong (hard to imagine such a world) and the question is not "abundantly obvious", it is asking whether monogamy is the result of our complex and relatively modern society or if it evolved pre-civilization. The evolution of monogamy in humans has been the subject of many peer-reviewed articles (examples: one, two, three) and thus I don't understand why this question was closed as opinion based.

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    $\begingroup$ Did you look at the link that you use to say "by nature" is well defined? essentially or innately; naturally; inherently - you still have to define those terms. We are talking operational definitions here, not dictionary ones. This reminds me of an argument I had with someone who thought they were clever by distilling "consciousness" down to "awareness" - when you look at the dictionary, the definition for "awareness" is "being conscious" - definitions like that are helpful for understanding English, not for understanding the scientific question at hand. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Mod Jul 12 '17 at 18:24
  • $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause If you like, I can link to the definitions of innate and inherent as well ;) I go on to say in that same comment and in this post that the question does give an operational definition: they are asking if the monogamy observed in humans is a construct of society or an ancestral condition. Ie what mating behaviour would be observed for anatomically modern humans circa 200 kya. Is that insufficient for you? Why? $\endgroup$ – canadianer Jul 12 '17 at 18:57
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    $\begingroup$ Okay - don't like them though, just provide them :) I looked at the definitions from the dictionary you linked, the ones that apply are no less vague. On the latter point, I'd be open to reevaluating the question if it was asking about mating behavior in anatomically modern humans circa 200 kya - that's not what the question is. Also, the most upvoted answer, although well-received, doesn't come anywhere close to actually addressing that question. The main source for that answer is a modern study of present-day human behavior. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Mod Jul 12 '17 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ The question asks "if monogamy is an innate human behaviour or is it because of... society" and later states "Let's say we go back in time [would we see monogamy]". My interpretation is that they are asking for the mating behaviour of humans before modern society and I cannot imagine any other plausible reading of it. Thus either my imagination is not very good or this question is not opinion based. As for the answer(s): I agree, but this wouldn't be the first time that an answer has been posted, upvoted and accepted that doesn't actually answer the question… $\endgroup$ – canadianer Jul 12 '17 at 20:02
  • $\begingroup$ …and this seems like no basis to close the latter. $\endgroup$ – canadianer Jul 12 '17 at 20:02
  • $\begingroup$ I just brought up the quality of the answer because of your comment to AliceD below. I think a modified question that asks about the biology could be fine, but in the context of the original question it just seemed like one that would solicit too much opinion and not really be answerable. I do agree the body was better than the title. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Mod Jul 12 '17 at 20:16

I think this is a viable question. The issue is that the subject shows a large overlap with Anthropology. Problem - there is no Anthropology stack. Over at CogSci we encounter the same sort of questions that are, in essence, Anthropological questions. Hence I do understand pob close-votes from the community, but personally, I tend to leave this sort of question open, simply because

  1. There is a huge overlap with Bio (reproductive behavior, evolution);
  2. There is no Anthropology stack.

The problem with the question as of now is that there are monogamous and polygamous societies so nurture is definitely involved, as they tend to be geographically segregated. In turn, the question premise is a bit thinly researched and it would be best to shave of the Anthropology-side-of-things and narrow it down to more of a Bio question. For example, I would say a question like: 'Polygamy is better for individual fitness [explained in question body], but is it better for a species as a whole, since evolution is species-driven [explained in question proper]?' may be better1.

1May be better - I'm not an evolutionary Biologist, I'm not proposing a specific edit, I'm just giving an example of how it may be more Bio-focussed

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    $\begingroup$ +1, I would just a few points in response. This is as much a question of evolutionary biology as it is anthropology. As you say, there is such a large overlap between many fields of science, including biology and anthropology, that the distinction becomes arbitrary. We have an anthropology tag here and I can't think of a better/exisiting site to ask this question on. Even if there were an anthropology site, the question shouldn't be closed as opinion based since that has nothing to do with the issue. This doesn't seem to be the reason people have closed the question. $\endgroup$ – canadianer Jul 11 '17 at 21:04
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    $\begingroup$ Putting that aside, even if the premise is thinly researched, that is not a great reason to close a question. Also, didn't some great thinker say that answers can make the question? I may try and edit the question in the future and this would be made easier if someone could articulate why exactly it is opinion based. $\endgroup$ – canadianer Jul 11 '17 at 21:04

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