Should we legalize (part 2)...Sex Work
Second in our series (of 3 episodes) exploring the intersection of morality and public policy; generally of the form 'should X be made legal?'. We'll be exploring both the ethical arguments and some of the high level data around key policy decisions surrounding commonly banned substances and activities. A core introductory theme (and one that's consistently touched on through the series) is when and how a governing power should behave independent of morality, i.e. with a greater focus and interest in outcomes and evidence, and when the banning or legalizing of substances are perhaps more important as value statements than as policy approaches who's outcomes we should study. Ultimately, this a spectrum and we will all have different views on this, even from issue to issue.
Today we consider the legality of sex work/prostitution (i.e. the exchange of cash for sexual services). There are several global locations where there are legal avenues to prostitution, but largely it's illegal. This provides ample opportunity to study the impact of differences and changes and their impact on the health of sex workers. Importantly, unlike drugs, which are very multi-faceted, our main concern looking at sex work is the welfare of the providers of the service. We also touch on the moral significance of sex that delineates it from other physical pleasures - afterall, it's totally acceptable to pay for a non-sexual massage - and whether some goods should simply not have a market for their provision.
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