Ethics of prostitution

simplemind

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Apr 10, 2009
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Prostitution is often described as the oldest profession. Not surprisingly, the ethics of prostitution have often been debated. In general, most people claim that it is morally unacceptable. Yet, like all such practices, it continues to thrive-as recent headlines will attest.

However, as a philosopher, what interests me is not the last media frenzy about prostitution, but the ethics of the practice itself. Rather than take the usual approach of simply asserting it is immoral, I will consider the various plausible reasons as to why it should be considered immoral and also argue that, under certain conditions, it can be just as morally acceptable as other forms of work.

One reason often given as to why prostitution is immoral is that it tends to involve coercion. In most cases, people do not freely decide to become prostitutes. In some cases, they are driven to the profession by desperation and a lack of other opportunities for employment. In other cases, they are forced into prostitution by others. In some cases, people are enslaved and forced to be prostitutes. For those who are unaware of this fact, slavery (both relating to prostitution and other forms) is alive and well around the world today.

Such coercion is clearly immoral, especially the sort that involves slavery. I agree with John Locke’s view of the matter. Roughly put, Locke argues that a person who would enslave another person should be regarded as a potential threat to the life and liberty of all. Hence, it is right and just to kill slavers. My own addition to this is that the death should be both cruel and unusual, perhaps involving a wood chipper. As you might imagine, there is little that I hate more than slavery and slavers. In light of this, prostitution that involves this sort of coercion must be considered immoral.

However, some people freely and knowingly chose to be prostitutes. In these cases, the coercion argument obviously fails.

It might be argued that no one would freely chose to be a prostitute and that all people are coerced into doing so. For example, feminists often refer to the coercive power of the patriarchy that is so powerful and subtle that women often do not even know they are being coerced. If these feminists are right, then all (or almost all) prostitution in a patriarchal society would be immoral.

Of course, if we accept this sort of view, then it would entail that almost all jobs are immoral. After all, everyone who is not the top of the power and economic hierarchy will be coerced into working by those above them and by the very nature of capitalism. This view has, of course, been argued for by communists, anarchists and others. It seems reasonable, but also shows that certain types of prostitution are just as moral (or immoral) as most other jobs. So, a prostitute who is no more coerced than a professor is thus morally on par in this regards.

If we accept that such coercion is morally acceptable, which is a common view in capitalism, then freely chosen prostitution would be morally acceptable on these grounds. This is, of course, what one would expect from capitalism.

The second main moral concern about prostitution is that it is exploitative. As presented stereo typically in movies, prostitutes typically work for a pimp or a madam who takes a sizable cut of their income. This is exploitative because the prostitute is doing the hard work while the pimp/madam is taking an unfair share of the proceeds.

Of course, almost all other jobs are exploitative in this fashion. Think, for example, of how much the typical worker gets paid and how much profits the industry in question makes. Profit, as Marx argues, typically requires that the worker is paid less than the value she adds. Of course, profit can also be made by exploiting the customer or the supplier of raw materials. But, profit by its very nature seems to require exploitation-someone has to be getting less than what they deserve.

It can be replied that such exploitation is acceptable when it is withing a certain degree. So, for example, the exploitation of the prostitutes by their pimps is exploitive because he takes far too much. The exploitation of the workers by Burger King is acceptable, because they do not exploit their workers as badly (and rarely, if ever, pimp slap them).

Now, if a degree of exploitation is acceptable, then prostitution that involves exploitation in this range would be acceptable. For example, working for a generous pimp or madam would be a morally acceptable job, on par with working for Starbucks. Once again, capitalism and prostitution can be bedfellows (and so often are).

Of course, if all exploitation is wrong, then almost all jobs would be immoral. This seems true-especially on Monday mornings.

A third reason that prostitution is regarded as immoral is that it is supposed to be degrading to the prostitute In most cases, this is true. To treat someone as mere sexual object is to fail to respect their worth as human being. Kant makes a good case for this as do numerous feminists, so I won’t rehash their arguments here.

Of course, many jobs are degrading and are still considered morally acceptable. For example, cleaning people’s toilets or working as a servant can be regarded as degrading. Working in a sweatshop is also degrading. In fact, a case could be made that most employment involves some attack on human dignity. Of course, the degree of degradation varies widely. But, if some degradation is morally acceptable, then prostitution that falls within that range would also be acceptable.

This, obviously enough, raises the question as to whether prostitution can be non-degrading or at least acceptably degrading.

it has been claimed that there are historical precedents for prostitution as a profession that is not degrading. One example is that of the dancers in Medieval Japan. Perhaps the most famous example is that of the hetaera of ancient Greece. These women were typically well educated and apparently enjoyed higher status than most women of the time (of course, women generally had very little status in that time). Based on what I have seen on the news, various “escort” services seem to strive to replicate the myth of the hetaera. For example, the service that provided women to Spitzer claimed to have highly educated and refined “companions.” The unfortunate DC Madam (Ms. Deborah Jane Palfrey) apparently strove to create a high class business: “the women had to be older than 23 with two to four years of college. ‘I was not interested in jaded, hard-core girls of any caliber,’ she said. ‘I wanted women who were strong and independent, who wanted to go on with their lives but they couldn’t get into grad school.'” (Newsweek) According to reports from the women who worked for her, Ms. Palfrey treated the women well and the women themselves certainly seemed to believe they were not being degraded.

It might be argued that having sex with people for money is inherently degrading. There are two replies to this.

First, there is the fact that all jobs involve a person selling himself/herself. A person who does manual labor is selling her body. A person who writes for a living is selling her mind. A person who performs is selling his talent. And so on.

Of course, one might reply, these people are doing something less intimate. Hence, the difference.

An easy reply to this is that people sell very intimate things. A writer sells her intimate thoughts. A therapist is being paid to be a friend (of sorts). If these sorts of jobs are acceptable, then so to is prostitution.

Second, it has long been argued that marriage is long term prostitution. The noted thinker Mary Wollstonecraft made this point. The idea is that women are trading sex for economic security. Dating can be, as the comedians do, looked at the same way:

Q: What’s the difference between going on a date and seeing a prostitute?
A: On a date, you spend money and hope for sex. When you see a prostitute, you spend money and know you’ll get sex.

Crude, yet informative. Many feminists thinkers have, as noted above, taken this view. If dating and marriage are 1) economic & sexual relationships and 2) acceptable, then prostitution would also seem to be acceptable. But, it also follows that if prostitution is unacceptable, then marriage and dating of this sort would also be immoral

Given the above discussion, it seems reasonable to accept that in our current society prostitution can be morally on par with acceptable professions. This says a great deal about our society.
 

Ronal Reagan

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Nov 4, 2010
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To properly understand and convincingly answer the subject, one has to look at the both sides of a coin. That coin has two sides; the physical/seen and the spiritual/unseen worlds. Any attempt to ignore or deviate from such an obvious fact usually results to flawed, erroneous, dangerous and fatal ideologies and other calamities that so evidently has struck the history of mankind under the sun.

The root problem started when man became the focal, the object, the standard. Such a deliberate rejection of the Originator, Creator, Designer and Progenitor of life and mankind resulted in two things:-

1) "IN PLACE OF" - because man is not a self-created nor self-supported creature he still was subject to the need of the spiritual/unseen guide/power being(s). So man created gods & idols innumerable in quantity IN PLACE of the Creator. This answer was more about providing for a person/persons/beings/objects.

2) "AGAINST" - here man came up with theories, doctrines & dogmas, arguments, philosophies, tales etc to replace "the plan" the Creator had. This was intended to answer the emotion/soul/intellectual sphere of mankind.

But for all those efforts, still mankind could never succeeded without the power/aid/support of the unseen/spiritual world, and succumbed we did. Teamed up with one powerful ally in the unseen world.

And by merely looking or reading the intellectual side alone (half of a coin) while hope to get the appropriate answers about related subject(s) is as dangerous as any half-knowledge disastrous ever recorded. It is so subtly created and cunningly presented in such a harmlessness way that systematically and consistently deceives and captivates mankind with massive devastation.

To summarize, in one word the philosopher, and all contemporary intellectuals are wrestled and entrapped in HUMANISM. humanism | Definition, meaning & more | Collins Dictionary.

Only CHRIST JESUS, who is the Truth in person can defeat the humanism and restore mankind to the original plan and destiny.
 

simplemind

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Apr 10, 2009
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He who possesses art and science has religion; he who does not possess them, needs religion.
 

Ronal Reagan

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Nov 4, 2010
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But do you think religion = truth?
Even more specifically, do you think ALL religions are the same hence are sources for truth?
 

inspectorbenja

Senior Member
Oct 14, 2012
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Nakumbuka wakati nasoma bachelor nilikuwa nafeli sana assignment zangu kwa sababu nilikuwa natumia lugha nyepesi nikiamini inabidi ninachoandika kiwe katika lugha nyepesi.Nina jamaa yangu alikuwa ananipita alama Mara kwa Mara.Ikabidi niangalie yeye anafanyaje kazi,nikagundua wakati mwinhine hats akikopy mineno migumu ambayo hata haileti logic anapata alama nyingi.Na Mimi nikaanza kutumia mineno migumi gumu kama guilability,authencity,congoroment,n.k kaka alama zilianza kuonhegeka.Nikagundua siri ya mchezo,ukiulizwa swali labda causes of poverty ,usianze these are the causes of poverty.Tupia maneno magumu kama Nowonder,let us examine the authencity and paralogy of poverty.To intricate such paralysis one needs to get a glympse and insight of the phenenon.Hapo lecturer lazima atoe marks za kumwaga.
 

CARLOS MAGOYO

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Jun 12, 2015
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Philosophy of "free will" is the blueprint for doing what is ethical and what is not ethical.
 

Ronal Reagan

JF-Expert Member
Nov 4, 2010
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Philosophy of "free will" is the blueprint for doing what is ethical and what is not ethical.
2) "AGAINST" - here man came up with theories, doctrines & dogmas, arguments, philosophies, tales etc to replace "the plan" the Creator had. This was intended to answer the emotion/soul/intellectual sphere of mankind.
 

adolay

JF-Expert Member
Dec 8, 2011
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Nakumbuka wakati nasoma bachelor nilikuwa nafeli sana assignment zangu kwa sababu nilikuwa natumia lugha nyepesi nikiamini inabidi ninachoandika kiwe katika lugha nyepesi.Nina jamaa yangu alikuwa ananipita alama Mara kwa Mara.Ikabidi niangalie yeye anafanyaje kazi,nikagundua wakati mwinhine hats akikopy mineno migumu ambayo hata haileti logic anapata alama nyingi.Na Mimi nikaanza kutumia mineno migumi gumu kama guilability,authencity,congoroment,n.k kaka alama zilianza kuonhegeka.Nikagundua siri ya mchezo,ukiulizwa swali labda causes of poverty ,usianze these are the causes of poverty.Tupia maneno magumu kama Nowonder,let us examine the authencity and paralogy of poverty.To intricate such paralysis one needs to get a glympse and insight of the phenenon.Hapo lecturer lazima atoe marks za kumwaga.
You made my day.
 

habdul64

Senior Member
Dec 24, 2014
143
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though you have provided a lot of thoughts that support the prostitution to be acceptable to the society but still human life is tied up by norms, traditions as well as religion that grab her against prostitution as legal and acceptable activity..
 

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