Prostitution is inherently morally wrong

Morality in the (black) market

There are innumerable moral concepts and theories that judge actions as right or wrong in various ways. Consequentialism, especially in its most popular form of utilitarianism, evaluates actions by the value of their consequences. The moral quality of an action is measured by its benefit for everyone: Put simply, one could say that the action that is best for everyone is the morally correct one. On the empirical level, it was found that a ban on drugs is not only useless, but even harmful, which, according to utilitarianism, would even make it morally required to legalize drugs, since a ban would also be morally wrong.

Other moral theories do not determine the quality of an action by its consequences, but rather evaluate the action itself. Then the question arises whether it is morally permissible for a state to forbid adults from doing something that is supposed to protect them from themselves. Such an intervention is called paternalism and in many cases it is absolutely understandable.

Often times, a child cannot properly assess the consequences of his or her actions. Therefore, parents can prevent their children, for example, from touching a hot stove. If, on the other hand, an adult actually wants to touch a hot stove, even though he is aware of all the consequences, one would need a good reason to prevent him, since his actions are only affecting himself.

Likewise, a person may very well be aware of all the effects of a drug and still want to use it. A terminally ill person who has only a few weeks to live and is in immense pain could well make the conscious decision to spend those last few weeks on heroin. The same deliberations and decision-making processes could be applied to all other drugs if the state did not intervene from the outset.

So what good reasons could drug ban advocates cite to limit adult drug use? Of course, the use of drugs is associated with negative consequences for the health of the consumer. But is that enough to justify a state ban? Can the state protect adults from themselves?

The state lets adults do all kinds of contracts, consume alcohol, smoke, do extreme sports, eat fast food, drive fast cars, and even get a gun license. These things require at least the same foresight and are just as dangerous as the use of drugs; however, paternalism is only argued for drugs.

Nonetheless, a ban on drugs makes sense for children and adolescents, but less so for adults, as it is assumed that they can foresee the consequences of their actions. It is a question of degree to what extent adults can assess the consequences of their actions better than young people, but this also applies to state leaders, so it is by no means unproblematic to assume that paternalism on the part of the state is justified here. It is difficult to say when someone will be able to correctly assess the consequences of their actions, and accordingly it is difficult to draw an age limit.

But there is no reason not to be just as pragmatic with drugs as with alcohol and tobacco: Anyone who is of legal age can decide for themselves about their life. Of course, there are people who by the age of 18 do not have the spiritual maturity to assess the far-reaching consequences of their actions. But why should a marijuana ban make sense when these young adults are allowed to drink themselves to death for it?

At the same time, the drug ban often affects young adults who are well informed about the possible consequences of their use of intoxicants. But shouldn't these adults be forbidden from taking drugs, since legalized drug use can serve as a role model for young people? Here, too, it seems hypocritical to claim that adults are not allowed to coke because of the role model function, if even excessive alcohol consumption is "okay".

But what is much more important is that the rock star - regardless of a ban - takes drugs and is no less a bad role model just because the drugs are banned. The children emulate their (bad) role models, should that be the reason why they should be pushed into criminality? And even if it were a bad role model for the children, it is also not clear whether the state can simply forbid its citizens from doing things because this carries the risk of corrupting the youth. Doesn't such paternalism violate basic moral principles?

A liberal basic principle, which goes back to great thinkers like Locke, Mill and Kant, says that the freedom of the individual only ends at the freedom of the other. According to this, a paternalistic intervention would be a case of morally unjustified coercion on the part of the state, because it represents a disregard for the freedom of the person.

Most of the things a person can do have some price, disadvantage, or are harmful in some way; nevertheless, people weigh up the advantages and disadvantages. If such action is not immoral (in the sense of harming another person or society), there is no reason to prohibit it.

Of course there are other moral theories, but there are hardly any ways to argue for bans that prevent actions that do not harm anyone. A ban on crimes without victims is therefore at least morally questionable. The objection to this could be that the concept of “crime without victims” is too simplistic, as there are often indirect victims. However, most indirect victims result from criminalization, so innocent citizens become victims of junkies through the crime of acquisitions. Not the concept of “crime without a victim” but the concept of “forbid bad things, then everything will be better” is too simplistic. The empirical data also speak against such bans, so the well-intentioned attempt of the moralists can actually be assessed as extremely harmful.