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« Allen Buchanan on Enhancement | Main | Paul Snowdon on Persons and Animals »

May 29, 2009



I'm a big Sandel fan, but I find his reasoning here a bit dubious. Where do we draw the line of what's acceptable to sell? Just on a public whim? Presumably Sandel thinks it's okay for him to get a salary for teaching philosophy without it corrupting the inherent value of philosophy. Famously Socrates disagreed with Sandel, and he thought it immoral for the Sophists to teach for a fee, and so he did it gratis. One might be impressed with Socrates, and I certainly would think it admirable, but are we really to run a society this way? In Adam Smith's day it was thought "immoral" to do anything artistic such as singing or acting for a fee, whereas nowadays we don't bat an eye-lid (although we might be outraged at the ridiculous sums of money the Hollywood stars get). Public morality is often arbitrary and unfounded, as seems the case of prostitution for me. How is this bodily act different than any other work which involves one's body? Is it the supposedly private nature of the act? Well I guess then we ought to make it illegal for authors who confess details thought very private to make money of these books. As Sandel says, there have been moral argument which gave way to minimum wage and workers rights, and I fully support these, and naturally prostitution would have to be regulated and under scrutiny, but it's unreasonable to just keep the act illegal and contain it to black markets where NO morals or regulations are in place.

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