2015 Abstracts Stage 3

To Commodify or Not to Commodify? That is NOT the Question

An investigation into the reciprocal roles of power and language in determining a fair agreement in “commodified sexuality”.

Is ‘commodified sexuality’ an accurate description of modern day prostitution? To discuss whether the implications of ‘objectification’ are metaphysically possible when one sells their sexual services for a price To analyse the power strategies present within sex work from environment to language Determine which effect of power is the most dangerous to the sex worker.

Project Outline
Identify confusions within the terms of commodity and commodification Emphasize that sex work involves labour, not the mere ‘selling of one’s body’ Identify a separation of a sex worker’s sexuality occurs through use of Karl Marx’s alienation Stress the limits of consent using Immanuel Kant Argue that the most powerful power structure is utilised without conscious thought: language

Philosophers & Key Texts
Martha Nussbaum: Sex & Social Justice (1999)
Sexual Objectification

Karl Marx: Collected Works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, 1843-44, Vol. 3 (2005) & Capital (1961)
Alienated Labour

Immanuel Kant: Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (2007)
Categorical Imperative
Sexual Contract of Marriage

Jürgen Habermas: The Theory of Communicative Action (1981)
Ideal Speech Arrangement

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Sex for Sale: an Investigation into the Ethics of Prostitution

Known as the world’s oldest profession, prostitution has always been present in society. However, the moral viewpoint regarding prostitution is not so consistent, the act being legal and regularised within some countries and punishable by death in others.

The aim of my project is to therefore attempt to find an answer to the ambiguity which surrounds the morality of prostitution. Looking only at a case of prostitution between two consensual agents – as any other example would clearly involve an inherently wrong violation of freedom – I will examine prostitution in the light of three prominent moral philosophical theories:

• Utilitarianism
• Kantian Ethics
• Hegelian Ethics

The choice of these particular theories is not only because they are notable moral arguments but also because they are very diverse theories.

This diversity consequently allows a balanced and thorough investigation into the morality of prostitution.
With regards to Utilitarianism, I will study Bentham’s ‘hedonistic calculus’ and Mill’s ‘greatest happiness’ and ‘harm principle’.

The application of Kant’s ethics means a study of prostitution under the categorical imperative.

Finally, prostitution in relation to Hegelian ethics involves an exploration into freedom and the societal values which can uphold this freedom.

Ultimately, I hope to reach a credible conclusion as to the morality of prostitution answering pertinent questions such as, does sex have an inherent special quality which should disallow it to be used as a commodity? And can the legalisation of prostitution ever be considered worthwhile for society?

‘Prostitution testifies to the amoral power struggle of sex…. Prostitutes, pornographers, and their patrons are marauders in the forest of archaic night.’ – Camille Paglia.