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Rape by Fraud

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Joyce Short, who was the victim of deception, has argued that rape by fraud should be a crime. Pragmatically, the legal issues are the most important; but the moral aspects of the proposal are philosophically important. To set the context for the discussion and to avoid straw person attacks, those seriously arguing that rape by fraud should be a crime are focusing on significant fraud rather than absurd cases. To illustrate, a person who engages in hyperbole or falsely brags about how awesome they are would not be targets of such proposed laws. Rather, some of the concern is focused on cases such as Short’s in which a person engages in significant and sustained deception in order to gain sexual access to a person. Another example is the case of Abigail Finney. One of her boyfriend’s friends had sex with her by pretending to be her boyfriend. While the man was chided by the court, he was not convicted of any crime. From a legal standpoint, rape and assault tend to be narrowly defined so that using fraud, rather than force, is not a crime. From a moral standpoint, this seems problematic. One obvious argument for why the use of fraud to trick a person into assenting is wrong is based on the view that fraud is wrong. While the goal of the fraud does matter, fraud itself is generally immoral and hence using it to trick a person into assenting to sex would be immoral. Another obvious argument for the use of fraud being morally wring and one that also ties into the legal argument, is to draw an analogy between existing crimes of fraud and using fraud to trick a person into assenting to sex. While specific laws about fraud vary, the general idea is that the perpetrator intentionally deceives the victim with the intent of persuading the victim to part with property. One key aspect of fraud is that without the deceit, the person would not part with their property.  For example, if someone calls a victim and pretends to be an IRS agent in order to trick. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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