Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Choice and Prostitution

A pro-choice slogan is "A woman has the right to do as she pleases with her own body." If we follow this line of thought, does that mean we should legalize prostitution? The prostitute Governor Spitzer visited did what she pleased with her own body, she made money. Lots of it.

14 comments:

Steve said...

Why stop at prostitution? Pretty much everything we do is "something we do with our own body". If we have a right to do anything we like "with our own body" then we have a right to do pretty much "anything we like".

The line of argument ("its my body") is often used as a premise in an argument for legalising the sale of body parts for organ donation.

However, in my view the "my" in this statement isn't a "my" of ownwership. "It's my body" is only superficially similar to "It's my car". The relationship between myself and "my" body is too close to be one of ownership. It is rather a "my" of "instantiation" or something similar.

Just thoughts.

Steve

Samuel Garcia said...

Or maybe they would qualify that statement with "as long as it contributes to their life and health"? I don't think that it would be consistent or coherent but it sounds like what they could say.

Victor Reppert said...

I've always hated this line of argument. It reminds me of the old song "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to."

Randy said...

Steve,
You make some good points. Or, at least, I agree with much of what you say.

A human being has a mind and a body. But, as you've indicated, having a mind or having a body is not at all like having a house or having a car. It is easy to get fooled here because of the superficial similarity of grammer in these cases.
I would differ with you over the view that I, myself, have a relationship with my body. Or that you have a relationship with your body. That makes no more sense than saying you have a relationship with your mind.

Ilíon said...

That's why I periodically point out that even though we all use the phrases stating that we "have a mind," the truth is that we do not *have* minds. Rather, we *are* minds.

And, similarly with our bodies.

Randy said...

No Ilion, we are not minds. A mind is not an object or entity of any kind. But it is true that each of us has a mind.

We can say we are bodies, but only with care, for that can lead to confusions. Although each of us has a body we are not just bodies.

Jim Jordan said...

The prostitute Governor Spitzer visited did what she pleased with her own body, she made money. Lots of it.

Wow. Why haven't prostitutes seized on this obvious loophole to legalize prostitution? Hmm, maybe they're not as diabolical as the pro-choice crowd. :-)

Blue Devil Knight said...

I think the stunts done on Jackass are as self-violating to the body as what a prostitute does. It is just weird that prostitution is illegal in most states.

Martha Nussbaum has a good argument for its legalization in her book 'Sex and Social Justice.' She thinks if it were legal it could eventually be looked at as about as strange as being a masseuse (which, incidentally, was looked at with great suspicion until relatively recently).

I think the argument you give could be one part of an argument for prostitutions legality. Should it be illegal to be a subject in a test of a new type of probe for a prostate exam?

This country is funny like that. It is strange that I can pay a woman to have sex with me, and if we film it or take pictures and sell it is is legal (because it is "art"), but if we do not record the event we could both be arrested. This country is funny.

I think arguments against its legalization don't work well if they focus on abstract notions of bodily sanctity. The better arguments would argue that it acts as a sort of cultural pollution, and drags down society. It could also be argued that people who do it are damaged goods and it simply exploits them. However, the same arguments could be made about pornography (even more so than for prostitution, as at least prostitution is usually a private matter, so it doesn't end up being watched by 16 year old bundles of testosterone on the internet).

Ilíon said...

Randy: "No Ilion, we are not minds. A mind is not an object or entity of any kind. But it is true that each of us has a mind."

No, Randy, we each *are* a mind; it is not the case that we *have* a mind. But you're a materialist, aren't you? I mean, you *have* to assert this foolishness, don't you?

If one *has* a thing, it might as easily be true that one does not have the thing. If one *has* a thing, it might be taken away by some happenstance or by some other person, or one might oneself lay it aside.

For instance, I *have* two hands, but I might have one hand or no hands at all -- and I would still be myself. I might have been involved in an industrial accident which crushed one of my hands. I might have been in Saudi Arabia and my hand cut off by the Saudi government. I might have been one of those insane persons who are convinced that one of more of his body parts don't "belong," and so managed in some way or other to get the "alien" hand amputated.

But, try the above with one's mind. It can't be done, because one's mind is oneself.


Randy: "A mind is not an object or entity of any kind. But it is true that each of us has a mind."

What you are literally saying is that minds don't even exist ... and yet we *possess* them, and in the same way that we possess objects.

A thing which exists can be an entity but not an object. Thoughts, for instance. But, how can a literal non-entity exist? It's a contradiction in terms. The whole point of using the word 'entity' is that we are recognizing that there exist immaterial things, that not all things which exist are objects.


Randy: "We can say we are bodies, but only with care, for that can lead to confusions. Although each of us has a body we are not just bodies."

Of course we are not *just* bodies -- the idea that we are is merely materialist non-sense.

A normally developed human being is the union of a quite immaterial mind and a very material body. But, what constitutes that body is quite fluid. And what constitutes the mind cannot, even in principle, be studied by materialistic modern science -- which is why "scientistes" (that's my word for scientistic poseurs ... think of Miss Piggy, the Artiste) are always denying the reality of the mind.

Randy said...

Ilion,
No, Randy, we each *are* a mind; it is not the case that we *have* a mind. But you're a materialist, aren't you? I mean, you *have* to assert this foolishness, don't you?

Actually, no, I am not a materialist. If I were, then I would think the mind is an object: the brain. Leastways, that is what I believed when I was a materialist.

For instance, I *have* two hands, but I might have one hand or no hands at all -- and I would still be myself. I might have been involved in an industrial accident which crushed one of my hands. I might have been in Saudi Arabia and my hand cut off by the Saudi government. I might have been one of those insane persons who are convinced that one of more of his body parts don't "belong," and so managed in some way or other to get the "alien" hand amputated.

But, try the above with one's mind. It can't be done, because one's mind is oneself.


It can’t be done because the mind is not an entity or an object. Hands are objects. And so are bodies. We have different ways of talking about our bodies than we do our minds. So I agree with much of what you wrote above, but not for the reason that we are minds.
It does make sense to say we are bodies. But some materialists mistakenly think that is all we are.

What you are literally saying is that minds don't even exist ... and yet we *possess* them, and in the same way that we possess objects.

No, I’m trying to point out that saying “I have a mind” is different than saying “I have a car.” The surface grammar can fool us into thinking that ‘have’ is being used the same way in the two quoted statements.
We really do have minds. If we didn’t, you and I could not be discussing this interesting subject right now. But we can’t put our minds in a garage and lock the door like we can the cars we have.

A thing which exists can be an entity but not an object. Thoughts, for instance. But, how can a literal non-entity exist? It's a contradiction in terms. The whole point of using the word 'entity' is that we are recognizing that there exist immaterial things, that not all things which exist are objects.

I believe it is as mistaken to identify the mind with an immaterial substance as it is to identify it with a material substance. All such identification theories ultimately lead to incoherence.

Of course we are not *just* bodies -- the idea that we are is merely materialist non-sense.

I agree.

A normally developed human being is the union of a quite immaterial mind and a very material body. But, what constitutes that body is quite fluid. And what constitutes the mind cannot, even in principle, be studied by materialistic modern science -- which is why "scientistes" (that's my word for scientistic poseurs ... think of Miss Piggy, the Artiste) are always denying the reality of the mind.

Actually, I don’t think most materialists deny that there is a mind, rather they think of it as being the brain. Interestingly enough, many of them, like you, believe that they are really just brains (minds).

But it makes no sense to attribute psychological predicates to the brain (mind). It is only to the person that we can logically make such attributions.
It is not the brain (mind) that gets angry or solves a mathematical problem or loves his wife: it is the person.

This is very close to what Aristotle observed many years ago: "To say that the soul is angry is as if one were to say that the soul weaves or builds. For it is surely better not to say that the soul pities, learns or thinks, but that a man does this with his soul."

I’ve run out of time here. Need to start getting ready for work. But if you are interested in understanding better where I am coming from here, you could check out the following article.

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normajean said...

Happy Thanksgiving to Vic and all else here. This site (and D2) has been great!

Jim S. said...

I've always wondered why prostitution is illegal but pornography isn't. In both cases you have people engaging in sex acts for money. If you film someone committing a crime, it doesn't (or at least shouldn't) thereby nullify the crime.