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MODEL18.doc

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Department
Humanities
Course Code
HUMA 1690
Professor
Rebecca Jubis

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1 Modes of Reasoning – Lecture 18 I – Prostitution • One branch of inquiry in the philosophy of sex might be described as ‘sexuality morality’ or ‘sexual ethics’. • Sexual ethics is concerned with the moral status of certain kinds of sexual practices (and sometimes attitudes). • What types of sexual practices are immoral? • Certainly rape and pedophilia are. • As far as other types of sexual practices go, the answer seems less obvious. • In the final two classes, we will examine the moral status of two other sexual practices: prostitution and pornography. 2 • There are two different meanings of the term ‘prostitution’: a narrow meaning and a broad meaning. Narrow definition of prostitution: the commercial sale of sexual services. Broad definition of prostitution: the selling of ‘oneself’ in some sense (also known as ‘selling out’), i.e., some activity that involves personal debasement (e.g., endorsing a product that you do not approve of). • In our discussion this week, we will focus on prostitution in the narrow sense. -What is the moral status of the commercial sale of sexual services? 3 II – Primoratz on Prostitution • Igor Primoratz, in his article “What’s Wrong with Prostitution?”, discusses commercial prostitution ― the selling of sexual services. • He argues that there is nothing morally objectionable about prostitution. • Primoratz does this by defending the practice of prostitution against five standard objections: (1) the paternalism objection, (2) the sex for sale objection, (3) the degradation of women objection, (4) the positive morality objection, and (5) the oppression of women objection. • We will focus exclusively on the first three objections since these are really the primary ones. 4 (1) The paternalism objection to prostitution is a relatively common one. - Prostitutes, especially women prostitutes, can be harmed in their work. -Many occupational hazards are associated with prostitution: (i) assault by clients, (ii) venereal diseases, (iii) exploitation by madams and pimps, and (iv) low social status and ostracism. -This is universally acknowledged. • It is thus argued that we should play the role of protectors or parents (hence the term ‘paternalism’) and protect prostitutes for their own good. -They should be forbidden from practicing prostitution in order to avoid the inevitable occupational hazards. • Primoratz claims this objection is off base. -First, these occupational hazards are only associated with professional prostitution. -They are less associated with other forms of prostitution: e.g., escorts, call girls, etc. -Escorts and call girls are less likely to be vulnerable to venereal diseases and physical abuse due to more selective clientele. -They are less likely to be exploited since they don’t normally have pimps or madams. -They are less likely to have a low social status insofar as they might have other jobs as well. 5 • Primoratz has a more fundamental reply, though. • Many of the occupational hazards of prostitution are the direct result of negative societal attitudes. -There is a distinctive morality that denigrates prostitution: the traditional western sexual ethic (sex is morally wrong outside of the context of marriage and procreation). -These attitudes lead to social ostracism: prostitutes are discriminated against, excluded, etc. -It also leads to a lack of legal sanctioning for prostitution: prostitution is made illegal. -Prostitutes thus don’t have legal protection against exploitation, certain kinds of abuse, health risks, etc. • According to Primoratz, we should work on eliminating the morally restrictive attitudes that denigrate prostitution and prostitutes, instead of eliminating prostitution itself. • Once we eliminate the negative attitudes towards prostitution, many of the occupational hazards of prostitution will also be eliminated. 6 (2) Another common objection to prostitution concerns the fact that it involves the selling of sexual services. -Certain things, it is argued, should not be up for sale. -E.G.: friendship, love, human beings, political office, awards, criminal justice, freedom of speech, etc. -Sex belongs to this category as well. • There are two main views of sex which might sustain this argument: (i) the traditional religious view and (ii) the modern romantic view. • Primoratz’s strategy is to argue that neither of these two views of sex implies that it is immoral to sell sex. (i) The traditional religious view of sex: sex is only morally unobjectionable within the context of marriage for t
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