Tag Archives: Philosophy


This paper argues that potential cases of oppression, such as sex trafficking, can sometimes comprise autonomous choices by the trafficked individuals. This issue still divides radical from liberal feminists, with the former wanting to ‘rescue’ the ‘victims’ and the latter insisting that there might be good reasons for ‘hiding from the rescuers.’ This article presents new arguments for the liberal approach and raises two demands: first, help organizations should be run by affected women and be open-minded about whether or not the trafficked individuals should remain in the sex industry. Second, the career choices of trafficked individuals should be expanded by the introduction of an opportunity-extending right to asylum.


Shrage, Laura (2005): Exposing the fallacies of anti-porn feminism, in: Feminist Theory 6(1), pp. 45-65.


This paper examines an issue at the centre of feminist debates about pornography and sex work, and that is whether these practices reduce women to sex objects. I question the assumption that the expression of sexual desire is unique in its power to degrade and dehumanize persons. I show that this assumption underlies Catharine MacKinnon’s attack on pornography by considering MacKinnon’s intellectual debt to the philosopher Immanuel Kant. I then examinerecent discussions of sexual objectification in the philosophical literature and argue that MacKinnon’s adaptation of Kant has flaws comparable to Kant’s original account of sexual desire.

Martha Nussbaum, “Whether from Reason or Prejudice”: Taking Money for Bodily Services, in: The Journal of Legal Studies, 1998, vol. 27, issue 2, pages 693-724.

Full article available here.

All of us, with the exception of the independently wealthy and the unemployed, take money for the use of our body. Professors, factory workers, lawyers, opera singers, prostitutes, doctors, legislators—we all do things with parts of our bodies for which we receive a wage in return. ….. Read More

Shrage, Laurie, “Feminist Perspectives on Sex Markets”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .

Feminist debates over sex commerce extend to a number of social practices, including pornography, prostitution, trafficking in persons, erotic dance and performance, and the use of sexual images of women to promote products and entertainment. Feminist theorists are divided on the question of whether markets in sexually explicit materials and sexual services are generally harmful to women. Accordingly, some feminist philosophers have explored and developed arguments for restricting sex markets, while others have investigated political movements that aim to advance the rights of sex workers.

A common argument against prostitution states that selling sex is harmful because it involves selling something deeply personal and emotional. More and more of us, however, believe that sexual encounters need not be deeply personal and emotional in order to be acceptable – we believe in the acceptability of casual sex. In this paper I argue that if casual sex is acceptable, then we have few or no reasons to reject prostitution. I do so by first examining nine influential arguments to the contrary. These arguments purport to pin down the alleged additional harm brought about by prostitution (compared to just casual sex) by appealing to various aspects of its practice, such as its psychology, physiology, economics and social meaning. For each argument I explain why it is unconvincing. I then weight the costs against the benefits of prostitution, and argue that, in sum, prostitution is no more harmful than a long line of occupations that we commonly accept without hesitation.