Is "other people do it" ever a valid argument?

I know that many of you will instantly want to say ‘no,’ but hear me out. Suppose every woman on a beach is dressed in modest one-piece swimsuits, and one woman shows up in a bikini. She stands out as the only bikini-wearer. Now, suppose nearly every woman on the beach is wearing a bikini, and, once again, the woman from the previous example reappears in the aforementioned bikini. Has the circumstance altered the deed enough that in one case it is a sin, but in the other, blameless? Or is it irrelevant, equally sinful (or not sinful) in both cases?

“Other people do it” is a whataboutism, and whataboutisms are always a strategy to deflect the question.

But that doesn’t mean circumstances or cultural norms don’t ever affect the morality of something.

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There’s too much nuance to answer this question with a definitive yes or no. It depends on whether or not the actions being taken by the majority are right or wrong.

No, “other people do it” is never a valid argument. Something that is wrong is always wrong regardless of the number of people doing it. Take speeding,
a percentage of the population will go over the speed limit, even if slightly. Just because “other people do it” does not make it less of a wrong.

Sexual activity outside of marriage. Regardless of how many “other people do it” it is still wrong.

I am not equating the wrong of speeding with the wrong of sex outside of marriage. Those are only two examples I used.


Only if you are speaking of faith, hope and love.


Of course, for objectively evil actions. But suppose the “sin” in consideration is not objectively evil, perhaps not even a sin. For something like bikini-wearing, is the woman in the bikini not likely to attract less lust when everyone else wears one?

If you are in heavier traffic and everyone is traveling a similar speed that happens to be a bit above the speed limit, it is safer to do likewise and go with the flow of traffic. So that could be a situation in which “other people are doing it” is a valid argument.

In my opinion, though, speeding a little bit isn’t wrong in other situations either if it doesn’t endanger anyone, so maybe it isn’t the best hypothetical to use.

If one person is being careless of the consciences of those who are weak in controlling the direction of their thoughts.
or if many people are being careless of the consciences of the weak,
then all are being careless of those people who have little control over their impulses or tendencies
… and it appears that there are many such folk …
then I wouldn’t regard “everybody does” is a valid defense.
I think it’s important to ‘err’ on the side of reasonable modesty, at the beach or elsewhere, regardless of the kind of immodesty that is endemic and ‘normalised’.

I think that it can be valid. If everyone in your church attends in suits and conservative dresses then rocking up in a t shirt and board shorts would be wrong. But if it’s a relaxed atmosphere and everyone else is in boardshirts and t shirts…

ding ding ding

We have a winner, folks :crazy_face:


You seem to be under the impression that wearing a bikini on the beach is a sin?!

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There was a time when women went bathing in a costume that was pretty much a dress, with only bare feet and ankles showing. During that time, a woman in a modest 1-piece swim suit of today would have looked like a hussy. Well, she probably would have been removed from the beach. So cultural norms change. I think the sin is whatever we are calling “over-stimulating visual excitement,” rather than the actual amount of flesh being covered (or uncovered) to achieve this.

There are two aspects to modesty: one is avoiding showing off wealth and beauty, and the other is avoiding the giving of any bad example, that is, a temptation to sin, to others in appearance and manners. Customs have changed drastically, especially in the twentieth century, with regard to the sense of modesty.

“By 1910 bathing suits no longer camouflaged the contours of the female body. The yards of fabric used in Victorian bathing skirts and bloomers were reduced to show a little more of the figure and to allow for exposure to the sun.” – Victoriana Magazine, History of Bathing Suits

A generation later: Cole Porter show tune, Anything Goes (1934) has these lines:

… In olden days a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking,
But now, God knows,
Anything Goes.

“Yarn covered in rubber invented in 1931, Lastex, made swimwear much more comfortable and lighter to wear. Previously all wool swimsuits looked fine dry but sagged terribly when wet and weighed a few extra pounds, too.” – Vintage Dancer, 1930s Swimsuits- Pictures and History

My local beach:

The women do not wear very much at all these days.

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No, its the logical fallacy of appeal to popularity.

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I never used the word “sin”, I used the word “wrong”. I’m not going to get into a bikini debate because it is a subjective matter; “what is a bikini?”, “how much skin is too much skin?” and so on…

Please do not come back with your answers to those questions, I’m not seeking them. I’m saying a debate about that subject matter is useless as it is too subjective.

The speeding thing was an EXAMPLE, not a topic to be debated. I clearly stated that in my first post.

“Other people do it” is not an argument, it’s an observation.
Observation is good for sane thinking, obviously, but observation informs an argument rather than being the source of a good argument.

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When I was a child if I used this argument, my mom would say to me…and if someone jumped off a moving train would you do that too?
It usually shut me up.
I think it is best to think for yourself. As a Christian, even more so as you can’t know what God is moving that person to do, it is better to follow the Spirit in your own heart. If you are inexperienced or new to the faith then ask someone who is wiser than you like a priest or spiritual advisor or consult a good catholic book, but dont just do what other people do. The state of society is seldom if ever a good guideline and you will more than likely find yourself being led astray. Sadly, even among your fellow Catholics this is a possibility.

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Its only a valid argument in response to “other people never do it”

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