Ethics and Good Prostitution

Topics: Ethics, Immanuel Kant, Morality Pages: 6 (2116 words) Published: December 9, 2010
Prostitution: In the End, There’s Nothing Wrong with It.
Prostitution is defined by Florida State Statute 796.07 in 1994 as “the giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire but excludes sexual activity between spouses” (“Legal Definition of Prostitution”). Though it has been illegalized, an age old discrepancy dealing with the morality and ethical concepts of prostitution is still a controversial topic being discussed today. The main ethical problem being debated about the profession of prostitution is if the selling of sex, something that is meant to be private and personal, should be allowed and morally accepted within society if used for monetary gain in order to pay for the necessities of life. Some question whether prostitution should remain outlawed if it just a means of profit and a way to continue to support oneself in everyday life, while others fully condemn the selling of the human body to others for pleasure. After evaluating the normative theories discussed in Noel Stewart’s Ethics, one could bring about four noticeably differing views towards prostitution, two of which will be discussed in the following essay. While the theory of utilitarianism would initially state prostitution to be moral and acceptable as long as it brings happiness and utility to oneself and greater numbers of people, Kant’s moral theory would first condemn the moral duty disturbed by selling sex, but then consequentially develop an allowance for prostitution after classifying it as a mutually respected act and not a means to an end for one person of the relationship. The general principle and three concepts outlined within the normative theory of utilitarianism with reference to John Stuart Mill’s rule utilitarianism specifically, as well as Kantian beliefs dealing with the categorical imperative however, reach the same conclusion in the view of prostitution, deeming it morally ethical through slightly different thought and ideological processes. “Utilitarianism gets its name from the word ‘utility’, which means happiness rather than usefulness” (Stewart 13). When viewed from a utilitarian point of view, prostitution can been seen as an act to bring about money and in turn, happiness, from the ability to support oneself without the heavy reliance on outside influences. Good prostitution would require a certain skill level to create a good living through it; this skill would instill self-worth for prostitutes and a sense of satisfaction with themselves and their abilities. All three concepts of utilitarianism can be applied to the act of prostitution to provide evidence as to why a utilitarian would view prostitution as acceptable. Utilitarianism states “that it’s the results or consequences of the action that count in deciding whether it’s right” (Stewart 13). The results of prostitution can be summed into two things: monetary benefits for the prostitution and satisfaction for the client, both of which are needed within life. “Humans have always traded whatever they had in exchange for something they needed,” proving that prostitution has never truly created an immoral or unjustifiable situation which needed to be illegalized (“Sexual Autonomy & Prostitution”). Utilitarianism also “holds that happiness/utility is good in itself . . . . So things such as money, power, friendship and so on are only instrumental goods,” meaning that using prostitution as an “instrumental good” is morally viable so long as it brings about happiness and utility (Stewart 13). “Sydney Biddle Barrows, perhaps better known to millions as the ‘Mayflower Madam,’ found herself moonlighting as a phone girl at an escort service . . . less than a year later she opened up her own agency,” proving that prostitutes do find utility and happiness from their professions (“Is It Wrong”). The third and final concept of utilitarianism states that “the principle of utility is the most fundamental moral principle”; this principle says “You should...
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