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Sex Prostitution And The Value Of Sex

1921 words - 8 pages

Elizabeth Anderson makes a claim that “The attempt to sell gift value on the market makes a mockery of those values.”(Anderson 188) Anderson uses this claim to object commoditized sex (prostitution). There are two premises that Anderson uses to support her claim. The first premise being the gift value of sex cannot be realized in commercial terms and the second premise being that the gift value of sex is more significant that the use value of sex itself.
To support her first premise Anderson argues that the good which is sex in this case, is realized only when each partner mutually returns the other's gift in the spirit with which it was received by giving one’s own sexuality to the gift giver, so as to acknowledge that the good is serving a higher purpose than just sexual gratification. The commoditization of sex hence seems to address the lower value of sex and not the higher and more lasting value of sex. Anderson invokes the idea of the value of sex being personal and shared to those involved. The value of sex is at two levels and are both personal as is involves the fact that those entering the act of sex recognize that they are sexually attracted to each other and establishing an intimate relationship in their mutual offering of themselves to each other. This establishment of an intimate relationship implies a connection between the two as unique to them. The value is also shared as the same “good” is being realized for both involved in the act of sex, it is also in the virtue of the act being shared, that there is goodness of the value. Therefore the aspects of the higher value of sex can’t be realized in commercial terms as the norms that govern the goods as impersonal and individually enjoyable, but does indeed satisfy the more base “use” value of sex. The fact that sex is the mutual offering of oneself as they recognize they are in an intimate relationship which is worth more than just the use of sex – which is to procreate or to be sexually satisfied. The offering of oneself to the other as an act in the higher spirit of the relationship shows how sex has a greater gift value than its use value. And this establishes the two levels of value sex has – higher value (mutual attraction and enjoyment, with intimacy and commitment and possibly the hope to being into the world a being that will be loved by both partners) and a lower value (the use of sex which is sexual gratification and pro-creation)
Simply achieving the lower, baser “use” value of the good seems to be morally problematic as perceived by society. If it was just sexual gratification was enough reason to have sex, then people would be fine with having sex with anyone since they both will have no guilt as they both achieve the value of sex. This would lead to the institution of fidelity and trust and other goods that are intrinsic to relationship between people. Intuitionally we can see that having sex with whoever we feel like isn’t right, we can thus conclude that sex just...

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