作者： 洪秀瑛、林志勳╱台北─浙江連線報導 |2012年5月30日 上午5:30
The sensational news highlights the moral issue of prostitution. It is because the “criminals” have a high social status that this incident got special attention. If the working class commits the crime, the society wouldn’t give a damn about it. The fact is, prostitution is forbidden in law but condoned in real world. This article aims to explore prostitution from the perspective of morality, clarifying its “should” and “should not” by the libertarian and Kantian philosophy respectively. The line of argument is borrowed from Michael Sandel’s two books, Justice and What Money Can’t Buy.
According to libertarians, justice is connected to freedom. People are free to choose for themselves the value of the things exchanged. Thus the ideal of an unfettered market is produced, wherein goods and services are freely sold and bought by consenting individuals. Libertarian philosophy emphasizes the autonomy of self. They object to interferences from the government, moral legislation being one of them, which includes the ban on prostitution or homosexual marriage. Their central argument is that since I own myself, I can do whatever I like with my body, like being a prostitute, selling my body and even killing myself. I am the master of myself; I do nothing wrong, as long as my act doesn’t hurt others, and I can even benefit others by gratifying their sexual desire or saving their life! This logic sounds solid enough: two consenting individuals carry out their contract, each reaping what they need. This free market logic validates prostitution on the ground of mutual benefit. The headline news fits this argument in the sense that both parties consent to the sexual deal without hurting anyone else. Both get what they want---the actress, a big fortune; the bureaucrat, sexual gratification. There is also no problem of fairness in this deal. Both made this choice voluntarily. There was no coercion involved here, as in the case of cheap prostitution when one disadvantaged side desperately needs money to support her family. Since neither the actress nor the bureaucrat is the “disadvantaged” side desperately needing money to sustain life, the “fairness objection” to prostitution doesn’t apply here. The actress is more like the “upscale prostitute” who likes the work and freely chooses it (What Money Can’t Buy 112). So, we may say that the free market logic excludes the possibility of moral censure in this case.
Contrary to the libertarian conception of autonomy as “I do what I like,” Immanuel Kant regards autonomy as acting according to a law produced by pure reasoning, not according to the dictates of nature or social convention (Justice 109). True autonomy lies in doing what is right for right’s sake, not in doing whatever I like. And the right thing is determined by pure reasoning. Prostitution is an act yielding to the dictates of nature---sexual desire. Therefore, it is not autonomy as defined by Kant, because the desire is not chosen by pure reasoning; it rushes within my body beyond my control, the so-called “dictates of nature.” Then, what is it the right thing determined by reason? Here is Kant’s argument: “human beings are not entitled to offer themselves, for profit, as things for the use of others in the satisfaction of their sexual propensities “(Justice 131). Kant considers prostitution immoral because it degrades humanity by using the female body as a means to the ends---sexual gratification. The act reduces human beings to objects; there is no soul left but the sexual organs sold and bought. So, in Kant’s view, an ideal sex should involve the union of soul and body, which can uplift humanity. In other words, only when sexuality leads to the union of body and soul can human dignity be kept (Justice 131-2). In What Money Can’t Buy, Michael Sandel reiterates this point by eliciting the “corruption” opposition to prostitution. This argument views prostitution as a “form of corruption that demeans women and promotes bad attitudes toward sex” (112). The “bad attitude” means the violation of the norms that should govern sex. That is, market values corrupt the meaning of sex in human life. When sex becomes a commodity ready to be sold and bought, it deprives true intimacy between two persons, both physically and spiritually. Furthermore, prostitution erodes the value of marriage, in which love plays a central role with sex serving to unite two people in body and soul.