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Brief Overview of Option: A current debatable ethical issue:

  • Establish Thesis 
  • Describe subject & bioethical relevance 
  • Discuss writer's position using ethical theory and principles to support (one ethical theory different than the others position. Has to have three ethical principles).
  • Discuss other positions on subject using opposing ethical theory and two ethical principles and flaws as seen by writer

Brief Overview of Option: A current debatable ethical issue

The word prostitution also called commercial sex or sex work might be defined as offering sexual services in exchange for goods or money (Yuran, 2017).  Sex work may include transactions with the consent or in other cases may happen due to coercion, fraud or forceful for example exploitation and trafficking (Hickle & Roe-Sepowitz, 2017).  Prostitution was popularly accepted in the United States until physicians, Christians and feminists started to challenge it in the twentieth century (Boudon, The Origin of Values: Reprint Edition: Sociology and Philosophy of Beliefs, 2017).

Historians have shown that there were women or prostitutes earned a living through the selling of sex in the early ages during the Gold Rush foundation in San Francisco as well as the colonization of Louisiana and New Amsterdam (Tolkach, Pratt, & Zeng, 2017). Prostitution in the United States is associated with the European imperialism that brought about ideas of both economic and sexual values of the indigenous American women and new migrants (Cohen & Peterson, 2018). The Asian women who also migrated to the famous Barbary Coast in San Francisco to trade sex as well as the indigenous white women who operated brothels in Uptown Tenderloin. French government during the colonial ages shipped women to Louisiana for their free to marry. However, these arrived there and realized there was much freedom in trading sex than the planned marriages (Cao, Lu, & Mei, 2017).

Currently, commercial sex is getting popularity wide world hence resulting in an ethical dilemma as to the legalization of prostitution. This article analyzes the need for the illegalization of prostitution.

There are four descriptions of choices for the sex trade. They include legalization, Nordic model, decriminalization and criminalization. Most research has shown that the rate of prostitution is minimal under the Nordic model as the well better treatment to sex workers than other models — the bioethical relevance of decriminalizing and criminalizing prostitution assists in tackling some of the ethical dilemmas. These issues include vulnerabilities, financial influences and understanding of the consent as discussed below in this essay.

There exist four major description options for prostitution. They are; Nordic model, full decriminalization, criminalization, and legalization. The four legislative options provide the overall description as to the question of legalizing prostitution in various parts of the world.

The Nordic model was first introduced in Sweden, has recently been adopted by the European Parliament. However, there is a difference in the manner in which the Nordic model should be implemented across nations. Various research indicated that there is low sex trafficking under this model while some studies have shown that this system enhances better services to those who sell compared to other models.

Four Descriptions of Choices for the Sex Trade

However, the outcomes have been questioned (Halwani, 2018). Among the questions raised is that the purported advantage of legalized sell is counterbalanced by the reason that there still penalization of purchasers thereby sellers continuously meet purchasers while exposed to harsh conditions.

Criminalization is the description that regulates the limit of illegal and legal prostitution market even though the evidence to underpin such has raised questions. Criminalization fascinates individuals who view that those who economically depend on paid sex, do not have the power to prevent harsh experiences and conditions or oppose such activities (Yuran, 2017). Once such acts have been committed or continue to happen, victims are henceforth exposed to widespread rape and sexual assaults. From this point of view, advocating for the criminalization system assists in minimizing harm to people who are coerced or induced financially.

Legalization is the type of a system, neither parties involved are needed to have licenses, abide by restrictions, work in certain places and go through health examinations.  The conceptual advantage of legalization is not about sellers or buyers risk criminal liability, but there are measures to regulate STI infections, abolish trafficking and boost the safety of sellers. However, key dissents are the increased rate of trafficking, whereby sellers are left exposed to increased risk of harm notwithstanding legalization or criminalization of commercial sex. Prostitutes may also be intimidated by government agents and exploitation by brokers (Hickle & Roe-Sepowitz, 2017).

Decriminalization is the best model for those in the political class who support commercial sex sellers as it is not strict and go hand in hand with the autonomy principle. However,  sex traders have different views concerning the regulation (Rowan, 2018). The principal arguments favoring decriminalization among them are that it lowers STI and HIV infections by reducing violence and allowing the frequent use of condoms, minimizes stigma, grant sellers protection by the police recognizes the freedom of adults in choosing sex work, can secure sellers employment benefits like compensation and sick leave and lowers stigma (Schatz, 2018).

The illegalization or legalization of prostitution assists to handle various ethical issues. This article recognizes three essential features of the study topic. The features that crucial to the subject of study include vulnerability, understanding consent, and financial inducements.

Understanding consent is very critical as there exist no trusted percentage estimations of sex sellers willing to sell sex anywhere across the world. A seller could be operating under coercion, force or fraud by another party, financial inducements, as a child or with consent. There are many reasons as to why it is practically not possible to approximate the percentage of prostitution who fill into such classifications thus hinders making of decisions based on evidence. To be able to estimate the number of individuals who gave or did not give consent to engage sex it is essential to consider the decriminalization views of the act (Cowling, 2017).

Nordic Model

Understanding financial inducements, the Amnesty International regards individuals who live in the environs of humanity but coerced to engage in prostitution is because of poverty. The sex traders who have given consent could be the only way to survive. The concept of financial inducements is naturally coercive hence exploitative. It has since been a principal consideration in the question as to whether commercial sex should or not be legalized because prostitution has been termed as renting of the organ (Cowling, 2017).

Vulnerability: A similar ethical issue because there is no consideration of the number of people who are intoxicated or psychiatrically or cognitively impaired to agree to paid sex.  Many countries recently agree that the making of decisions by an individual in regards to sex may be affected by disorders or intoxication. It amounts to rape, therefore, engaging sex with a disordered or intoxicated person. There is a need for Ethicists to assist in analyzing the illegalization or legalization of commercial sex about vulnerability (Hickle & Roe-Sepowitz, 2017).

 The position of the writer is underpinned by the Kantianism theory which states that prostitution degrades and objectifies humanity. This theory is opposed to all other sexual relations except for the married people. Prostitution is similar to selling one’s organs which lowers the dignity of persons. No person has a right to sell any part of their body, and this theory is to protect people from harming themselves (Varden, 2018). The principle of autonomy according to Kant is about being rationale and treating others as we wish to be treated with respect and not as an end. Therefore, prostitution is treating people as a means to achieve something and not with respect. In this case, it is using a person as an object to fulfill pleasure or ego (Schein & Gray, 2018).

Fidelity Principle

Kant’s perspective on sexual morality is conservative and traditional. He is opposed to all resultant sexual activities such as prostitution except sexual relations between married people. Therefore, having sexual relations with prostitutes, which is outside of marriage, is infidelity and may lead to divorce. Kant's view on sex could be in line with his moral principles. Prostitution objectifies and degrades both parties. Therefore it is objectionable as the ultimate goal is to fulfill sexual desires and has nothing to do with fidelity (Batool & Zaidi, 2017). The wealthy used to purchase teeth from the poor for implantation. Prostitution is not different from the sale of organs. Kant looks at such activity as one against human dignity. No one has the right to sell their teeth not even the limb because in so doing a person possess themselves as objects and as an instrument or a cheap means of profit (Boudon, 2017).  


Prostitution is act based on the interest a man carries for a woman, however, it is towards such a woman not as a human being, but for reasons that she is just a woman, therefore, a human being of no importance to a man but a sex object to fulfill the desires of a man (Reed & Weinman, 2018). The Kantianism perspective disregards nature of human of each other. They denote humanity as a tool to fulfill the inclinations and lusts of each other (Tolkach, Pratt, & Zeng, 2017).

Kant's rejection of casual sex and prostitution outlines the need for limiting one's autonomy or liberty as he perceives this as an appropriate means of promoting people’s wellbeing. The moral principle brought about by exercising our will demands we handle freedom of a person of our own and others and not as a way of making through but protecting them from harming themselves (Cowling, 2017). Even though the requirement of morals is anchored on autonomy, this principle disregards some behaviors between adults, for instance, adults who have consented to prostitution, expressing the superiority attitude in a paternalistic manner for a better society. The superiority may appear as treating adults as children. Paternalism involves minimal intrusion into certain fundamental freedoms but leaves room for criteria modification (Halwani, 2018).

Kant's idea of beneficence imposes a moral obligation in doing good acts. For instance, moral obligations such as kindness and charity are governed by oneself laws this is known as a categorical imperative. It demands that individuals treat themselves and every other person with respect and not as a means to achieve something or as an end (Settegast, 2018). In beneficence, people need to handle themselves with respect and not treat as objects. Individuals must not treat their bodies as they desire for example doing prostitution (Lallement, 2018).

Kant observed that prostitution and objectifying oneself as the same. This is because to let oneself be used for gain by another so as they fulfill sexual desires is not different from one making themselves an object for demand which is making oneself a tool used by another to quench their thirst. The similar manner in which hunger is satisfied with steak, this cannot be acceptable (Wacks, 2017). The moral philosophy underneath is that human beings are not a property of their own and cannot treat their body as they please. It is only the sexual relations in a marriage that can prevent degrading of human dignity because it is sacred (Varden, 2018). Prostitution is a breach of the moral obligation to act in the right manner.


The consequential ethical theory supports the otherwise position. This theory is opposed to the narrative of treating humans as an end as it perceives the sexual activity as a deed that results to pleasure. This theory is also called the Utilitarian theory which states that any act that brings about maximum happiness to a larger population is good and renders such action an acceptable moral choice (Uddin, 2018). Utilitarianism also argues that individuals have maximum freedom with their bodies and do what they please. However, the writer observes that not all women who engage in prostitution seek happiness, but it is because of financial constraints. The feminist and the religious stakeholders are also against the acts of prostitution (Rowan, 2018).


The consequential concept of autonomy in sexual activity may be explained as the right to personal rule thereby making one free from control. If one contemplated sexual relationships among adults as an activity performed by consent to bring about pleasure between parties involved, it makes it an acceptable moral choice (Schein & Gray, 2018). The question as to the legalization of commercial sex can be proved to be a moral deed if it helps achieve happiness and autonomy as the ultimate result (Hofmann & Magelssen, 2018).

Prostitution deeds can be proven when looked at an eye of autonomy as free-will activities that result to pleasure between the parties involved such as the customers, prostitutes as well as the families. Legalization of prostitution will result in the creation of policies in the society that protect parties involved in prostitution and promote autonomy. Validating commercial sex will allow the government to develop programs that may assist to combat or reduce violence, therapy, sexual assaults, medical diseases, counseling and rape when required (Cohen & Peterson, 2018).

This principle tries to explain the autonomy in prostitution but still fails since the notion of two consenting individuals engaging in commercial sex is not out of their free-will. The prostitutes do not only participate in commercial sex for happiness; they are looking for money. This case is not different from treating their customers as a means to an end. Additionally, the clients' families would not be happy with such activities, and this would lead to separation between married couples and so on (Tatalovich & Wendell, 2018).

On the face of it, a layperson may be of the view that the utilitarian person is just immature as to think that commercial sex results to pleasure to those who engage in it thereby that it is moral (Boudon, The Origin of Values: Reprint Edition: Sociology and Philosophy of Beliefs, 2018). However, that is not the acceptable way of life for other people, in fact, most nations of the world have not legalized this practice and going against the policy does not serve utility.


Utilitarianism may be defined as the perception that moral or right deeds are the ones which bring maximum happiness and useful to the people (Uddin, 2018). Therefore, if a phenomenon meets the threshold of utility, then it shows that such a thing brings about the pleasure of a majority. A further argument in defense of prostitution as a form of employment, getting a salary with the sequence movement of the body.

Feminist have always argued that a woman is in most cases close to being treated as a slave of the practice as a means to an end because she would not voluntarily decide to prostitute (Leary & Baumeister, 2017).

A response to the feminist argument says that if at all that was true then nearly all jobs would be classified under one group. Many people do not decide carriers on the basis that they find pleasure in doing them, but it is what can be able to do and gain a lot of income from it. Then the underlying question becomes such a person so enslaved as to choose stockbroking? The answer is No reasons being that the person chose to pursue a job that could assist him to expand economically.

To be enslaved would mean that one does not have freedom or an alternative to quit that profession. However, sex workers are at liberty to do so. If individuals were not required to work as a means for an end, then there could be no blue-collar workers.

Utilitarians also agree that prostitution as an occupation could lead to the spread of Sexually Transmitted Infections hence affecting the wellbeing of society (Schatz, 2018). That nonetheless the outcome some countries that legalized prostitution earn taxes, for example, some states of Nevada. This may follow some restrictions but there is a stipulated fee for brothels and usually earn paychecks with deductions towards tax, and it is a requirement for prostitutes to undergo frequent STI tests and scanning for them to operate brothels.

It is viewed as an efficient way of enclosing prostitution as a job and earn taxes on it something the government enjoys doing. The compulsory STI scans and the test would help combat the outbreak and spread of such infections as well as the use of condoms for protection should be encouraged (Post, Brouwer, & Vols, 2018).

An argument that has created an uproar in the debate about prostitution is the question if at all the practice is causing harm to the day to day society. Although the media acts recklessly and steady with teenage pregnancy and sex scandals, it does not amount immorality when one is involved in sexual acts. Therefore, sex is among the things which the body of humans is preprogrammed to engage as well it brings about feeling of happiness to all persons involved (Nowotny, Cepeda, Perdue, Negi, & Valdez, 2017).

Understanding Consent, Financial Inducements, and Vulnerability

The imposed utility in prostitution to seek pleasure and happiness, in this case, is false. None of the prostitute’s dream of beginning such business for pleasure or joy, only circumstances force them.  Poverty is the main reason for engaging in prostitution all over the world through some regions involve sex trafficking that compels its victims to become prostitutes. Additionally, to serve utility so seek pleasure in commercial sex masks the truth whereby prostitutes mostly are desperate for money, reaping profits (Sharpe, 2017).

Furthermore, human beings are social and will continue being so if they wish to survive. The case whereby individuals would not care if one drinks ten bottles of beer to drown his sorrows or lock themselves up during prostitution would not take the human generation far. It would show a lack of care and people may commit suicides hence an increase in death rates. In this case, the utility would not have been served. (Yuran, 2017).

Prostitution has been a segment of human life. The King James Bible has not used the term prostitution in context, but the word harlot has been used. A harlot in King James Version is termed as a prostitute, and the features of a prostitute are a sinner, expensive, painted, enticing and shameless. A harlot profanes the name of the Lord and is evil, it is associated with idolatry and leads to divorce. The harlot talked about in the Bible is full of sin, and it concurs with the Kantian theory of Deontological Ethics. This theory argues that prostitution is both ethically and morally wrong and should not be embraced. The modern society's position is that prostitution and the prostitute as unethical and immoral (Huschke, 2017).

Contemplating the practice of prostitution and the prostitute then an individual will be in a position to observe strength and courage.  As claimed by the virtue ethics, ethical and moral issues do not pass judgment on the act and the doer. Virtues can be explained as is contained inside of a person and not what led to the commission of the action. If humanity refrained from judging the practice of prostitution and look at the features such a prostitute, it would realize the inner courage and strength of the person. Women who decide to be prostitutes as an end to taking care of their children is such a brave and courageous choice. (Cao, Lu, & Mei, 2017).

Kantianism Perspective on Prostitution


Prostitution is an act of offering oneself body in exchange for goods or services. There are main description options for prostitution they include the Nordic model, criminalization, decriminalization, and legalization. This paper discusses the ethical dilemmas brought about by illegalization or the legalization of prostitution, and three significant aspects arose such as vulnerability, understanding consent, and understanding financial inducements. The position of the writer and the Kant theory gives a conservative and traditional view on prostitution about the respect for humanity. That prostitution degrades human dignity, and no man has the right to sell any part of their body. Other people's view about prostitution by the Utilitarian theory is that it is a deed that brings about pleasure among many there it serves utility. Moreover, it is none of other people's business to interfere with the business of other people. However, the principles of autonomy and treating humans as ends have flaws as outlined in this paper (Hickle & Roe-Sepowitz, 2017).


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