Liberalism and Prostitution

Research output: Book/ReportBook

60 Scopus citations


Civil libertarians characterize prostitution as a "victimless crime," and argue that it ought to be legalized. Feminist critics counter that prostitution is not victimless, since it harms the people who do it. Civil libertarians respond that most women freely choose to do this work, and that it is paternalistic for the government to limit a person's liberty for her own good. This book argues that although most prostitution is voluntary, paternalistic prostitution laws in some form are nonetheless morally justifiable. If prostitution is commonly harmful in the way that feminist critics maintain, this argument for prostitution laws is not objectionably moralistic and some prostitution laws violate no one's rights. Paternalistic prostitution laws in some form are therefore consistent with the fundamental principles of contemporary liberalism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages224
ISBN (Electronic)9780199870554
ISBN (Print)9780195383249
StatePublished - Feb 1 2010


  • Government neutrality
  • Individual rights
  • Liberalism
  • Liberty
  • Moralism
  • Paternalism
  • Prostitution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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