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For example, take a prisoner that has spent one year without sexual activity. He saves enough money to pay for a prostitute to be sent to his jail. The prisoner does not expect to gain from this act any spiritual contact with the prostitute. He just thinks it is about time to release himself without harming anyone. He knows that masturbation alone is not enough, because there is a natural need in any heterosexual man to look, touch, grasp and kiss a feminine body.

...

In this case, the prisoner is not evading. He is not pretending to be a lover. He is not seeing the prostitute as a lover. He is not seeing the sexual act as a loving affair. He takes the act he has deliberatly chosen for what it means. I see no immorality in this.

I do. Sex involves two people, not one. There is a woman involved, who does not sexually desire your prisoner. I do not believe having sex with a woman who does not enjoy (and in fact dreads) the act can be an overall positive experience, for a moral man. I know it wouldn't be, for me. I'd rather masturbate than have sex with someone who's not into it.

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Your comparison completely misses the mark of the "paying for friends" question (I don't mean to speak for sN, but before he posted I was thinking about asking something very similar to what he asked,

Whoa now, I think you are misunderstanding Rand's reasoning involved in her conclusion that sex can't be separated from values, and that therefore “mindless pleasure-seeking” is immoral. Simply becaus

Are you not aware that this topic has been already extensively covered on this forum? Please use the search function. However, I do have a comment. If there is no difference for you between a b

...I do not believe having sex with a woman who does not enjoy (and in fact dreads) the act can be an overall positive experience, for a moral man. I know it wouldn't be, for me. I'd rather masturbate than have sex with someone who's not into it.

I concur, and would add that a transparent attempt by the woman to appear into it would be even worse. I like nude women, but I hate strip clubs...

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Sex involves two people, not one. There is a woman involved, who does not sexually desire your prisoner. I do not believe having sex with a woman who does not enjoy (and in fact dreads) the act can be an overall positive experience, for a moral man. I know it wouldn't be, for me. I'd rather masturbate than have sex with someone who's not into it.

Let's not confuse an act of rape with an act of trade.

In any act of trade, you must assume that the other person is looking after best own interest.

When the massager approaches you in the spa, you have no idea of whether she is tired today, or ill, or if she is being paid unfairly by the spa's management, or if she has problems at home and wishes to be there with their children instead of placing her hands over your back. You don't know that and you are not in the position to figure that out. You assume she is giving you massage willingfully, because otherwise she wouldn't be doing it.

Furthermore, we know she is not the one that will be relieved of aches in the back and neck. She doesn't need me to provide her with pleasure. If she gets satisfaction from her job, it will be the satisfaction of doing a good job, of seeing me smiling and recognizing her skill.

It may surprise you, but as true as the fact that many prostitutes dislike being prostitutes, it is true many like their job.

(The same happens, for that matter, in all kind of jobs).

A prostitute told me once, as she bragged on her success: "You must love this job, or never get into it." She was the kind who seemed to love her job.

Many prostitutes strive to become good at what they do, which means to provide a lot of physical pleasure and be recognized for that. Just as the massager in the spa.

So, the statement "I wouldn't have sex with a woman who does not desire me sexually" just expresses a personal position, a position that I would generally agree with.

But I dont' think it works as an argument to support the immorality of prostitution.

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Objectivism does not have an official position on pornography. However, I do not like it because of the psychological (and sometimes physical) damage it does to the actors. Interviews with former porn stars reveal they have a difficult time forming emotional bonds with their lovers because of years of blocking out the effects of oxytocin. And then there is the case of Lara Roxx who contracted AIDS after being in the industry for only three months. Another problem I have with pornography is its frequent degradation of women (ejaculating on their faces, etc.).

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Objectivism does not have an official position on pornography. However, I do not like it because of the psychological (and sometimes physical) damage it does to the actors. Interviews with former porn stars reveal they have a difficult time forming emotional bonds with their lovers because of years of blocking out the effects of oxytocin. And then there is the case of Lara Roxx who contracted AIDS after being in the industry for only three months. Another problem I have with pornography is its frequent degradation of women (ejaculating on their faces, etc.).

Sounds like you're looking at the wrong kind of pornography. Find some that doesn't involve those things you mentioned (preferably some that doesn't involve "porn stars" who make a career out of having sex on camera, at all).

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There is a potential physical constraint with ejaculating overly often, assuming you have better uses for your energy than constantly regenerating semen. Someone who ejaculates too frequently over a long period of time may end up a bit tired, I guess. Masturbation often leads to ejaculation, so may contribute to lowering ones overall energy level. Is this an important effect? I haven't looked for studies, but guessing not so much.

Sex trades, on the other hand, are dicier. While in principle not a violation of morality, participating in the sex trade as any of producer, model, prostitute, actor, broker, seller, or buyer, is fraught with moral peril in a society that is more or less irrational (or at least mixed) in its views of sex.

In the context of a society whose members generally carried a rational relationship to the sexual act, its consequences, and its implications, the sex trades would be voluntary and legal ... and would not be particularly lucrative. Because of the perversion of society away from rational ethics and politics, however, the fact is that the lower level participants in the sex trades get the shaft (pun intended).

The sex trades as currently constituted involve rampant deception, coercion, blackmail, theft, kidnapping, imprisonment, and rape. The sex workers, as a rule, do it for the money at the expense of their pride. I can't see how this equation can balance in reality, although I guess some sex workers claim to love their jobs.

There is something going on here that is not yet well understood, and I don't think Ayn nailed it.

Cheers.

- David

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The standard of morality is your life. A moral choice is one in which you gain a value, by that standard. When you give your life away, you do not gain any values, you, and your values, both end.

You may choose to end your life, for some goal such as the survival of someone you love, but that doesn't make it moral. Ethics is a specific thing, and it has nothing to do with the conditions under which, and the reasons why, people decide to die.

Objectivist Ethics prescribes the principles one requires to live, when one chooses to do so. When one's life is not the goal, Ethics is not useful.

The standard of value is man's life. One's own life is one's purpose.

Maximizing the duration of one's own life is not necessarily the goal, but rather, working to improve one's life according to the needs of a rational being is. Thus, accomplishing a great value might be worth trading off much of the duration of one's life.

By giving up one's own life to save the life of a lover, it is not the giving up of one's own life which is the purpose, but of saving that of one's lover. Thus, one cannot say that it is not a moral action on the alleged basis that the goal is dying.

(Apologies for replying to a year-old post, but I saw it while reading the thread along with the new posts.)

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The standard of value is man's life. One's own life is one's purpose.

Maximizing the duration of one's own life is not necessarily the goal, but rather, working to improve one's life according to the needs of a rational being is. Thus, accomplishing a great value might be worth trading off much of the duration of one's life.

By giving up one's own life to save the life of a lover, it is not the giving up of one's own life which is the purpose, but of saving that of one's lover. Thus, one cannot say that it is not a moral action on the alleged basis that the goal is dying.

(Apologies for replying to a year-old post, but I saw it while reading the thread along with the new posts.)

That's alright, I remember the discussion from back then.

Your explanation contains a contradiction (improving one's life can be done by trading it for a value) that cannot be eliminated, except by recognizing that there is one choice beyond Ethics: to live or die. Ayn Rand put it this way:

"Life or death is man’s only fundamental alternative. To live is his basic act of choice. If he chooses to live, a rational ethics will tell him what principles of action are required to implement his choice."

When one should choose to not live (which was the choice being discussed) is not going to be determined by those principles of action. In fact, in the example discussed, the very reason the person chose to not live was because there was no way to live with his values intact. That rational ethics could not be applied to implement his choice to live, the choice to live became unsustainable.

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I don't think there is a contradiction. Think about it this way: If one could choose to improve one's quality of life by taking an action that one knew (either with certainty or high probability) would shorten it, could doing so be a moral choice? (The only example I can think of for this is indulging in unhealthy food or activities, like smoking.) I think this is a personal choice, which could be moral either way if done in accordance with one's chosen values.

Here's a slightly different but similar example: Would it be moral to choose a highly dangerous career, or even short-term line of work? A good example of this is joining the military in time of war, particularly in historic times when the risk of casualty was far higher. I think this can be moral, if one values what one is producing or defending weighed against the risk to one's own life. The possibility of dying is not the motivating factor here; it's what one accomplishes during one's life, even if greatly shortened.

Taking an act that will almost certainly kill one's self could still be moral, if by doing so, one achieves a great deal. What if one can save not only the life of a loved one, but many people whom one values? If the act of saving those people defends values which are proper according to the standard of man's life, then one may value this over the almost total shortening of the duration of one's life. I see the principle here as the same as in the first two examples, but taken to the highest extreme.

Committing suicide because one cannot achieve values--such as in a totalitarian society--is different. I might agree that this is an action outside the realm of morality. In that case, there is no higher value being achieved--death is the goal.

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Taking an act that will almost certainly kill one's self could still be moral, if by doing so, one achieves a great deal. What if one can save not only the life of a loved one, but many people whom one values? If the act of saving those people defends values which are proper according to the standard of man's life, then one may value this over the almost total shortening of the duration of one's life. I see the principle here as the same as in the first two examples, but taken to the highest extreme.

I think I see where you're coming from here. If a man, when realizing his life, lived by his own values, is over anyway, decides to end it on his own terms rather than prolong it in a way that isn't his chosen life anymore, that is a life affirming choice, based on one's values, aimed at capping off an entire existence by making the last few minutes noble.

He chooses this instead of the alternative: making the last few years painful and worthless at the expense of those last few minutes spent pursuing his values, and at the expense of having spent his entire life (shortened as it is) in accordance with rational principles.

Committing suicide because one cannot achieve values--such as in a totalitarian society--is different. I might agree that this is an action outside the realm of morality. In that case, there is no higher value being achieved--death is the goal.

That death is also chosen based on one's values (his love of freedom), just like dying for the sake of a loved one. It's just different values, but the issue is the same. I've now turned around and accepted that they are both moral choices, though.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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Maximizing the duration of one's own life is not necessarily the goal, but rather, working to improve one's life according to the needs of a rational being is. Thus, accomplishing a great value might be worth trading off much of the duration of one's life.

Exactly. I try to maximize the QUALITY of my life, in sum-total. A long, sad life is not my goal. Neither is a short, happy one. I want a long, happy one ... but without the "happy", the "long" is actually a BAD thing.

- ico

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I don't understand why Miss Rand places such a high moral value on sex. Sex with a prostitute may indicate a lack of self respect in the john. Then again, it may have nothing to do with his spiritual or psychological values. He may like it just because it feels good in the purely physical sense. If you pay someone to give you a back rub, because the back rub feels good, you are not necessarily seeking to gain self esteem from the act of receiving a backrub from the massuese, nor is your choice of massuese anymore indicitive of your self esteem than your choice of any other service provider. Am I correct in assuming that Miss Rand would not see a moral issue with paying a massuese to give you a backrub for the sole reason that it feels physically good? If so, where is the issue with asking the massuese to rub a little lower for the reason that that feels good as well?

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I don't understand why Miss Rand places such a high moral value on sex. Sex with a prostitute may indicate a lack of self respect in the john. Then again, it may have nothing to do with his spiritual or psychological values. He may like it just because it feels good in the purely physical sense. If you pay someone to give you a back rub, because the back rub feels good, you are not necessarily seeking to gain self esteem from the act of receiving a backrub from the massuese, nor is your choice of massuese anymore indicitive of your self esteem than your choice of any other service provider. Am I correct in assuming that Miss Rand would not see a moral issue with paying a massuese to give you a backrub for the sole reason that it feels physically good? If so, where is the issue with asking the massuese to rub a little lower for the reason that that feels good as well?

It's not just “placing” arbitrarily a high moral value on sex, it has to do with the nature of pleasure and self-esteem in man. All human action where choice is involved is purposeful behavior and thus has to do with judgments of value. Self-esteem and morality is interwoven in the nature of acting man. A person who engages in this kind of behavior “just because it feels good in the purely physical sense” is still choosing his values and acting upon them, and so it reveals his value-judgments and self-estimate. So, in that sense, everything is a moral issue, whether he chooses to recognize it that way or not.

If it were just a purely physical activity, why choose a masseuse over autoeroticism? Why choose between varying options of partners? A purely physical theory could not account for that. Why does he have such a desire for pleasure in the first place? So you see, this can't be divorced from moral values any more than any other desire or behavior, it's just the particular code of values that varies among different choices of sexual behavior (so a code of “it just feels good” or of separating sexual behavior from romance reveals a subjectivist type of code.)

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Can anyone prove rationally why that paying a woman for a massage to your back muscles is moral, while paying a woman for a massage to your penis is immoral?

Both things involve voluntary trade.

In both situations, what is being traded is money in exchange for pleasure.

In both situations, there is no deception: the man in the massage parlor does not believe that the employee is his friend or lover. Neither the act of massaging his back implies friendship, nor the act of massaging his penis implies love.

Now, if a man mistakes friendship or love for a trade relationship, that's another issue. That's irrationality. That's immorality.

Do you want to know what I think is the root cause of this debate within Objectivism?

I think Ayn Rand was afraid of endorsing a body-mind dichotomy if she accepted the separation of the phsycial pleasure from love in regard to sexual activity. She could not conceive, morally, achiving an orgasm without a corresponding recognition of the virtues of your partner. In attacking the false dichotomy that Christian thought have taught for centuries, she wanted to make sex beautiful, sacred and glorious by uniting body and mind in the sex act. The point is that she confused "MIND" with "LOVE" in this particular context.

You may derive strong psychological pleasure from a sexual act, and use properly your mind during a sexual act, without being in love with the other person.

A prostitute, as well as her client, are using their minds when trading sex. And they may be using their minds appropriately, giving and receiving what they rationally want to give and receive. No deception, no fraud, no coercion. In short, evasion is not universally present in sex trade relationships. At least no more than in any other trading activity.

Prostitution works, as trading food or clothing or jewels work, becasue generally people act rationally and in a self-interested manner.

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I think those quotes indicate that is exactly what he was doing, speaking for himself.

I think the objection was to, "We all self immolate to a certain extend." It does seem a bit presumptuous.

Edited by Dante
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Can anyone prove rationally why that paying a woman for a massage to your back muscles is moral, while paying a woman for a massage to your penis is immoral?

Are you not aware that this topic has been already extensively covered on this forum? Please use the search function.

However, I do have a comment. If there is no difference for you between a back muscle massage and a massage of your penis then there should be no reason to specify in your question that it must be a woman performing it. It is just rubbing - a trade for pleasure, no? Why not having a man rubbing your penis? If there is no difference between the two activities then it should not matter to you who is doing the rubbing as long as they are doing a good job. Back massages and similar forms of physiotherapy are judged by the quality of service and results obtained. Men are often better at deep tissue massages, for example, because they are physically stronger. A man in theory may be better at penis massages too I would imagine since they know first hand what feels good.

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If there is no difference for you between a back muscle massage and a massage of your penis then there should be no reason to specify in your question that it must be a woman performing it.

While I enjoy the humor of your comment, this is not a fair conversion of the question he asked, which you quoted. Asking if there is a moral difference is not the same as asking if there is ANY difference.

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Can anyone prove rationally why that paying a woman for a massage to your back muscles is moral, while paying a woman for a massage to your penis is immoral?

First, Sophia is right that you should search for this since there are extensive discussion on the matter already. Second, your question lacks ANY context.

I will say that in my opinion, none of the discussion on this forum have convinced that universally or by default, that the exchange of sex for money is necessarily immoral. Context is needed.

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While I enjoy the humor of your comment, this is not a fair conversion of the question he asked, which you quoted. Asking if there is a moral difference is not the same as asking if there is ANY difference.

I disagree. Judgment of equivalence or at least very significant similarity in the identity, in the nature of the two activities, enough to see them as morally equivalent in the poster's mind, is implied in the question.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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I disagree. Judgment of equivalence or at least very significant similarity in the identity, in the nature of the two activities, enough to see them as morally equivalent in the poster's mind, is implied in the question.

I figured, but just the same, it is clear to me he's talking about the morality of the issue, not that there is not that there are no differences at all. Your conversion is much broader than his query.

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No actually, her question was making a moral distinction. She was asking about Hotu's preferences between different options, which means about his evaluations, which means about his value-judgments. If he denies that he wants a man to "massage his penis," then he is caught in an inexorable contradiction in what he was asserting.

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