Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Philosophy (MA)

Degree Level





Richard Lee

Committee Member

Eric Funkhouser

Second Committee Member

Thomas Senor


Philosophy, religion and theology, Consent, Ethics, Prostitution, Sexual ethics


Prostitution is illegal in almost all parts of the United States. Regardless of whether one considers this to be positive or negative, prostitution is still a booming business and thrives despite the legal ramifications of the practice. The pervasiveness of prostitution despite its prohibition may lead one to question the point of the legislation if enforcement is so costly and ineffective. Is prostitution illegal because it harms the well being of society as a whole and the prostitute in particular? Or perhaps it is simply distasteful or worse, immoral and must be forbidden by the law. This, however, leads to several questions. Should the law be able to regulate the behavior of individuals in private moral matters, if so, under what conditions, and further, should prostitution be regulated by the government or even be considered immoral? By analyzing the arguments presented by various sexual ethical theories that condemn prostitution as morally impermissible and exposing their flaws, this thesis then turns to consent theories that accept some forms of prostitution as morally acceptable in order to show that prostitution, while illegal in the united states, is, in certain situations, morally acceptable, and should not be prohibited.