PHIL 102 – Mar 5 2014
Sex Trade is associated with much harm
1. Child prostitution
2. Abduction, slavery, emotional instability/manipulation, drug, addiction, etc.
3. Duress (Nussbaum): a last resort – many sex trade workers have no better
a. Joseph Raz’s “hounded woman” her actions are not free in all important
b. They have options, but their best option is undesirable.
c. Many people in the sex trade are in this situation
None of these is a necessary consequence of “commercial recreational sex”
Ethics: is CRS morally wrong per se? What’s special about sex that makes it wrong
We’re taught this through culture.
SCOTT ANDERSON: Prostitution
The Debate: Among Feminists – 2 sides agree on a lot
• Liberal – use existing laws and institutions are ok and they can be used to
promote liberty and good ends (equality etc.
• Radicals – the laws and institutions are bad and are sources for inequality and
lack of freedom.
The “radical” feminist position: but they want to use the existing laws and institutions
1. Prostitution is degrading to women
2. It’s because of gender hierarchy in our society
a. In Utopia it’s not degrading because there is equality.
b. There is still inequality in our society
3. Perpetuates a gender hierarchy in our society
They think sex is a key instrument of inequality in our society.
They believe the laws can help. They are actually liberals
The “liberal” feminist position: PHIL 102 – Mar 5 2014
1. The sex trade takes diverse forms
a. It’s not all the worse scenarios
b. The radicals are pumping our emotions and we are thinking about the
worst types of prostitution and not thinking of holistically
2. CRS is severable from its harms
a. It is possible
b. They recognize we live in a imperfect world – tends to mean prostitution is
associated with certain harms
c. Prostitution plays a role in inequality
d. But it is important to make a distinction that it is not always the worst
e. People pushed into this trade are vulnerable – they are facing toughest
i. Why are we making their lives worse?
f. It is possible for a more benign CRS
3. Nussbaum: our moral beliefs about abortion are due to prejudice/stigma
a. There is nothing special about sex that makes it wrong to sell
b. It’s unpleasant and it’s emotionally and physically intimate, but so are
Making these laws infringe the lives of prostitutes
Swiss: it’s not illegal – less violence and does not perpetuate gender hierarchy
Sometimes legalizing doesn’t solve the underlying problem. Education?
Cuba! Many educated women