The morality of matchmaking

Is matchmaking an intrinsically moral act ? Does the matchmaker deserve moral praise for bringing two individuals together?

It is fair to say that here at iBluebottle we are not losing sleep over examining the morality of matchmaking. Nevertheless it is an interesting question and deserves some probing.

Philosophically speaking, to determine the morality of an act we could either use Mill’s & Bentham’s utilitarianism or Kant’s moral theory.

The utilitarian approach, sometimes called the “greatest happiness principle” postulates that an act is moral only if it maximises the overall happiness. Further the moral worth of an action can only be decided if we know all the resulting outcomes.

The outcome of a matchmaking act could be either a happy marriage (for the two individuals involved) or an unhappy one. It is likely that a successful marriage would lead to a “total happiness” which is greater than the happiness resulting from an unsuccessful one. This is primarily because the family, friends and other well-wishers of the married couple would contribute greatly to the “total happiness”.

But this is by no means certain. Firstly defining a successful marriage is tricky. Secondly, what if the married couple had fewer friends but more detractors who would be unhappy by their successful marriage? A few spurned lovers or jealous relatives perhaps? In such a case the matchmaker would be decreasing the “total happiness” and not maximizing it. So it would appear that using the utilitarian theory we have insufficient information to decide one way or the other.

What does Kant have to say about matchmaking being a moral act ? It depends
on the matchmaker’s intentions. If the matchmaker is acting from some
ulterior motive (say for personal gain), he does not deserve moral praise, even for an action
that otherwise appears morally good.

Now iBluebottle does plan to charge for its services even though it is free at this time. We are indeed acting for personal gain and thus would probably fail the Kantian’s moral test.

So there you have it – a score of probably half out of two on morality. Not very edifying but we will take it. Bringing together two compatible persons who might not have had the chance to meet otherwise is reward enough. Plus the fact that we might get paid for it.