​Pornography & Prostitution: Philosophers Facing the Sex Industry

Jeanne Proust at Online

Thu, May 7 at 8 p.m.   |   Two sessions, 75 minutes each
Olios: Drop-in classes led by professors

Do pornography and prostitution directly lead to the sexual objectification of women by men? These two phenomena and trades of the sex industry are obviously different, but there seems to be a tacit agreement about their common immorality. Why have prostitution and pornography so often been believed by the majority of people to be harmful? Join us for a two-part series as we delve into it.

Join professor Jeanne Proust for a two-part Olio as we delve into the sex industry from a philosophical point of view. 


Do pornography and prostitution directly lead to the sexual objectification of women by men? These two phenomena and trades of the sex industry are obviously different, but there seems to be a tacit agreement about their common immorality. Why have prostitution and pornography so often been believed by the majority of people to be harmful?

In this Olio, we will explore different arguments that have been conveyed by philosophers who are in favor of an abolitionist view, and those against it, while trying to closely decipher our moral feelings and prejudices about the commodification of sex.

Session one (5/7) - Prostitution: Selling One's Body?
Prostitution has always been believed by the majority of people, including the ones who take part in it, to be extremely harmful. Let’s try to put our prejudices aside, and explore the nature of this belief, and its consequences on prostitution itself. Why is prostitution so often morally condemned?
One of the main arguments against prostitution is that sex should have to do with something sacred, intimate. But is it morally unacceptable to have casual sex for the mere sake of pleasure, without long-term commitments and emotional attachments? Does the money aspect bring something else into the equation?


Session two (5/14) - Porn: Promotion of Women's Objectification?
Porn seems to be less problematic than prostitution, though the easy access to obscenity on our smartphones and the content of mainstream hardcore porn raises many ethical questions. We'll be discussing issues around porn’s role in gender and race discrimination, and about the impact of porn on sexuality.

Teacher: Jeanne Proust

Jeanne Proust's research focuses on Théodule Ribot’s Diseases of the Will, both in philosophical and psychological perspectives. While teaching at different universities here in New York, Jeanne is advocating for a widening of philosophical education beyond the academic frontiers.


Venue: Online

Zoom link will be sent upon signup.

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