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Is it wrong to have a romantic relationship with a married person?

In Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged," Dagny Taggart had an affair with Hark Rearden, knowing that he was married. How should those actions be judged in real life? Clearly, Hank's cheating was dishonest and wrong. Was Dagny wrong to pursue the affair? What should she have done instead? Or, imagine that Dagny didn't know that Hank was married until after they'd slept together. What should she have done in that case upon finding out the truth? Should she stop the affair? Should she inform the wife about the cheating? Should she apologize to the wife? Also, if your answer is different than Dagny's, how do you reconcile that?

Zahra , 16.11.2012, 21:21
Idea status: completed


MrChirpsky, 01.12.2012, 16:44
No, it was Hank's marriage to Lillian Reardon that was dishonest & wrong, but the moral blame for that rests squarely on her evil shoulders, not Hanks. She had long been "cheating" on him by getting into bed with all those who were out to destroy him. Like the glorious "rape" sequence in The Fountainhead, here is another example where judging a person's moral action in the full context is so vitally important. His affair with Dagny is a moral act of self-defense. The tragedy is that, for having accepted unearned moral guilt, it took him too long to realize his error for him to avoid being blackmailed (for which he lost her).

Perhaps not an apt comparison, but I can't help thinking of the recent scandal of David Petraeus' affair with his biographer (assuming it actually occurred), especially as he was similarly perceived as a stoic "puritan" in public. Good questions.

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