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Unpublished Paper
An (In)decent Proposition: Prostitution, Immorality and Decriminalization
ExpressO (2010)
  • Ekow N Yankah, Cardozo School of Law
Prostitution in America is widespread and the harms associated with the sex trade are heartbreaking. Many moved by these harms have argued that there is nothing immoral about prostitution. Others have tried to show that a properly liberal government demands that we separate our moral and legal views. Despite persistent arguments by academics and reforms, little progress has been made in reforming prostitution laws and protecting vulnerable of women. Arguments that prostitution is not immoral or the appropriate liberal role of government fail to respect deeply held moral intuitions and thus cannot garner the consensus for reform. This article argues that progress cannot be made so long as reform arguments are premised on particular or controversial philosophical arguments. Rather, it is critical to see that from a wide range of philosophical starting points, one can agree with the commonly held intuition that prostitution is immoral without advocating legally prohibiting it. The major insight here is to stop viewing prostitution as intractably controversial. Most importantly and in contrast with prior efforts advocating reform, this article shows that agreement is not limited to traditional liberal positions but that agreement is possible even for those committed to the idea that the purpose of law is to promote virtue.
  • Prostitution,
  • Decriminalization,
  • Jurisprudence
Publication Date
February 28, 2010
Citation Information
Ekow N Yankah. "An (In)decent Proposition: Prostitution, Immorality and Decriminalization" ExpressO (2010)
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