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The ethics of hiring prostitutes

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The ethics of hiring prostitutes

Postby formosan » 17 Aug 2009, 11:39

Religions often have opinions on whether various behaviors are ethical or unethical.

Here's an issue: Can one show that either
(a) it is ethical to hire prostitutes (possibly within certain constraints);
or
(b) it is unethical to hire prostitutes (possibly within certain constraints);
?

Here's an example of a constraint.

Assume the adherence to promises is taken to be an important value.
Suppose Citizen A promises someone (perhaps his wife) that he, Citizen A, will never hire a prostitute.
Given that constraint, Citizen A cannot hire a prostitute without breaking his promise, and thus
Citizen A cannot hire a prostitute without violating the important value of adherence to promises.
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Re: The ethics of hiring prostitutes

Postby Scepcop » 17 Aug 2009, 16:53

I'm not sure if you're talking about the ethics of prostitution or breaking promises, but shouldn't this be in the "Off Topic" board?

But regarding prostitution, it has its pros and cons.

It is acceptable in one sense because it is between two consenting adults. It doesn't make sense why something that is free (sex) should be illegal just because money exchanges hands. Most prostitutes chose to be one, and were not forced into it. Of course, they are all from poor families, so they did so out of situational factors.

Plus sex is a natural thing, and not something evil. I don't understand why Christendom demonizes it. Perhaps it is supposed to be precious and only done in a mutual loving relationship, but that's a matter of opinion and personal lifestyle.

On the other hand, it degrades a woman's pride to become a whore. Some don't really care of course, but deep down they feel the degradation. In that sense it might be unethical. But it is their choice nevertheless, and we all learn the consequences of our actions.

What's funny is that if you poll men who go to sex workers about whether they would want their daughter become one, all of them will say no.

Philosophers in the Middle Ages called prostitution a necessary evil, comparing it to the sewers, "dirty but necessary". It's always been with us.

Simply put, some men need to "release" their sexual urges and cannot wait for a "loving relationship", or they simply thrive on having multiple partners. If bottled up, the urges can make them violent or crazy, so it's wiser to let them release their urges. That's why in most countries, prostitution is legal. They understand the wisdom and necessity of it.

Do you consider Hugh Heffner and his playboy bunnies to be prostitutes? Officially they are not, but in the eyes of the public they are whores, because they sold themselves to become famous Playboy centerfolds and date a much older man, all for fame, glory and money. So in that sense they are whores. Yet the media is accepting of them, which is hypocritical.

But prostitution in other countries is not like in the US. In the Philippines (where I live) and in Thailand, the sex workers scene, known as "the bars", is not just sex for sale, but a real dating scene as well. The bar workers are seeking a real boyfriend or husband, and evaluates their customers as potential partners, treating them as "real dates" and not just all business, which is what men who come here love about it. Many real relationships and even marriages spring from the bar girl scene here. Some guys go there just for the sex and fun, and fulfillment of certain fantasies (like having a threesome). But other guys want to find a real girlfriend or wife from there. The bar girls get jealous when their customers go off with other bar girls, for instance, so obviously they have invested their feelings into them. In contrast, in America and Europe, prostitutes tend to be more business-like, not investing any personal feelings into it nor seeing it as a serious way to get a boyfriend or husband. They simply go through the motions. Thus, whoremongers tend to prefer Asia, where the sex workers treat them as "real dates" and put their feelings into it, and are not just all-business.

That's my experience and observation.
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Re: The ethics of hiring prostitutes

Postby formosan » 17 Aug 2009, 20:15

Scepcop wrote:I'm not sure if you're talking about the ethics of prostitution or breaking promises, but shouldn't this be in the "Off Topic" board?

But regarding prostitution, it has its pros and cons.

It is acceptable in one sense because it is between two consenting adults. ...

On the other hand, it degrades a woman's pride to become a whore. ...
What's funny is that if you poll men who go to sex workers about whether they would want their daughter become one, all of them will say no.

Philosophers in the Middle Ages called prostitution a necessary evil, comparing it to the sewers, "dirty but necessary". ...


I figured "ethics" was part of "philosophy" so I posted here, but if "off topic" would be better, I wouldn't object.

My primary topic was the ethics of prostitution.

I think one could make a case that it tends to weaken some social relationships; however, it seems to have strengthened other relationships in some societies.

Certainly prostitution can cause medical problems because clients can contract STDs from prostitutes and then infect wives.

On the other hand, the enforcement of a whore-versus-respectable-woman dichotomy has served to strengthen some societies - I would put medieval Europe in that category. Modern feminists might argue that social cohesion at the price of patriarchy is purchased too dearly.
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Re: The ethics of hiring prostitutes

Postby NinjaPuppy » 17 Aug 2009, 21:41

formosan wrote:Religions often have opinions on whether various behaviors are ethical or unethical.


Morals and ethics are defined: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-dif ... morals.htm

The difference between ethics and morals can seem somewhat arbitrary to many, but there is a basic, albeit subtle, difference. Morals define personal character, while ethics stress a social system in which those morals are applied. In other words, ethics point to standards or codes of behavior expected by the group to which the individual belongs. This could be national ethics, social ethics, company ethics, professional ethics, or even family ethics. So while a person’s moral code is usually unchanging, the ethics he or she practices can be other-dependent.


Here's an issue: Can one show that either
(a) it is ethical to hire prostitutes (possibly within certain constraints);
or
(b) it is unethical to hire prostitutes (possibly within certain constraints);
?


According to the above definition, it's a personal choice. Nothing more, nothing less.

while ethics stress a social system in which those morals are applied.


It all depends on your social system. If you are not of a social system that has an opinion about prostitution, it becomes nothing more than a personal choice.

Here's an example of a constraint.

Assume the adherence to promises is taken to be an important value.
Suppose Citizen A promises someone (perhaps his wife) that he, Citizen A, will never hire a prostitute.
Given that constraint, Citizen A cannot hire a prostitute without breaking his promise, and thus
Citizen A cannot hire a prostitute without violating the important value of adherence to promises.


To some, a promise can be a very strong moral statement. In your particular example of constraint is between two people. If CitA knows that he will have a problem with his promise, then CitA needs to rethink the wording of his promise into something along the lines of, "I will seek professional help to figure out why I feel a need to hire prostitutes". If the person who is the reason for promise (perhaps his wife) is not willing to accept that, then it is up to them to discuss what would be a suitable situation for both parties.

It is not up to anyone else to decide the moral or ethical boundaries between individuals. However, since you threw in the religious angle, it would have to be considered what social system those two people belong.
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Re: The ethics of hiring prostitutes

Postby Scepcop » 17 Aug 2009, 23:41

formosan wrote:I figured "ethics" was part of "philosophy" so I posted here, but if "off topic" would be better, I wouldn't object.

My primary topic was the ethics of prostitution.

I think one could make a case that it tends to weaken some social relationships; however, it seems to have strengthened other relationships in some societies.

Certainly prostitution can cause medical problems because clients can contract STDs from prostitutes and then infect wives.

On the other hand, the enforcement of a whore-versus-respectable-woman dichotomy has served to strengthen some societies - I would put medieval Europe in that category. Modern feminists might argue that social cohesion at the price of patriarchy is purchased too dearly.


That is an interesting point. The respectable women in society can look down on prostitutes and use them to elevate their own status as a comparison. It gives them something to differentiate themselves with. But that is ego and dualism, and doesn't lead to integration or unity, which is our true God nature.

Of course, STD's is another way in which prostitution can be harmful. However, the issue of STD's is actually very exaggerated in the fear based media. The easiest STD's that you can contract, such as urinary tract infection and gonorrhea, are treatable and go away with antibiotics. And herpes, which is also very common, is relatively harmless, the outbreaks get less and less as time goes on to the point where you forget about it. I think the biggest danger is getting pregnant, which has long term consequences of course.

I heard that the AIDS thing is way exaggerated and that in reality, even if you have sex with someone who is HIV positive, your chances of getting AIDS are like 1 in 800. Most AIDS cases come from gay sex and sharing needles, not from heterosexual sex.

Plus there are so many scientists with great credentials, like Dr. Peter Duesberg, who question the existence of AIDS and the HIV connection that you gotta wonder if there's something to it. The scientists contesting the AIDS/HIV hypothesis are certainly not idiots, and have presented a very solid case.

But you can't really legislate morality anyway. That's unnatural.
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Re: The ethics of hiring prostitutes

Postby formosan » 19 Aug 2009, 18:59

Well, certainly I disagree with the notion that venereal disease is over-hyped. If anything, I think it's under-emphasized. However, that is obviously a personal judgment call.

As for social systems, I think the issue of who is embedded in what social system requires a more scholarly investigator than myself. I imagine a sociologist would say that we are all enmeshed in various social systems, with various conflicting codes of ethics, but I'm not a sociologist, so I merely speculate.

It is perhaps less speculative to say that many allegedly spiritual teachers have advised restraint and moderation in sex - but then I can't prove that such teachers were truly spiritual, and even if I had proof of their spirituality, I would need to prove that spiritual attainment confers insight into ethics. Furthermore, a few allegedly spiritual teachers have advised extreme promiscuity -- Crowley was notorious for endorsing prostitution.
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