An Ethical Delimna: the Pornography Debate

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Pornography is a subject that has been around since the discovery of erotica. Because of moral issues associates with this topic, there has always been controversy. From the days in which there were brothels filled with “ladies of the evening” to today in which access to this type of material is only a click away, there have been people who argue against the ethics of pornography. According to Mosser author of Philosophy: A Concise Introduction, ethics can be defined as a type of “moral philosophy” that allows investigation on how to evaluate behavior based on what is considered right and wrong (2010). While ethics play a huge role in everyday life, it can also become a blurred line in regards to what each individual considers right and wrong. In today’s society there are many issues that may seem appropriate in one country or society, but may prove to be improper somewhere else. The subject of pornography is an issue that plagues the ethical realm. While, in general there are guidelines that regulate the pornography industry in this country, it is clear that those same rules do not always apply abroad. Because of the increased influence and access to pornographic material there has developed two distinct groups: those who are against pornography (anti-pornography) and those who are in support pornography (pro-pornography). The two sides have debated on the rights for people in and outside of the porn industry to exercise their freedom of speech by viewing, distributing and accessing the material. The Pornography Debate

A Brief History of Erotica
In order to fully grasp the two sides of the pornography debate it is important to mention how the subject has gained so much attention in recent years. Erotica has been present in everyday life for a number of years. The origins of erotica date back to the ancient sexual pleasures found in the Kama Sutra and other depictions in the Eastern world. The moral debate over erotica however did not emerge until the restoration of Charles II in England. The stories printed during this time depicted homosexual activities as well as nude women (Bollough, 2003). From 16th century England emerged the origins of the debate that has found its way into modern times.

The sex industry as it is known today got its origins in the world of erotica. Since the beginning of time there has been erotic speech. Poems by Melville and Chaucer depict erotic scenes and innuendos with mistresses and lovers. This material that came along with the age of print often saw its contents banned by local clergy. Even some of Shakespeare’s more risqué plays were censored for audiences. Just as pornographic material of today is a money maker for the technological industry, so was the printed form of erotica a cash cow for booksellers and writers.

Brothels became very popular in places where soldiers and explorers dwelled. The industry boomed and was one that promised owners very sizable returns. Because dabbling in prostitution allowed a steady and very large stream of income for both participants and owners it was seen as a lucrative investment, and held a certain appeal to those involved. However the aspects of technology would not be realized until the invention of peek shows, mass production of magazines and eventually the invention of motion pictures.

From peep shows and silent films to the ability to take home pictures of nude women and sexual acts technology fueled the materialization of the sex industry, especially in developing nations such as the United States and Great Britain. Through the invention of mass production devices that allowed print to be cheaper and easily distributed, came magazines that catered to the sexual needs of everyday citizens, mostly men.

Magazines such as Playboy, Modern Man and Penthouse allowed pornographic materials to be brought into the home. These magazines depicted full color photos of nude women. Though these images were considered “soft...
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