The US should decriminalize prostitution
“The State of Nature, the natural condition of mankind, is a state of perfect and complete liberty to conduct one’s life as one best sees fit, free from the interference of others.”  From that starting point, the only reason people give up some of their freedom is to be protected from being harmed by others. This idea is captured by John Stuart Mill’s famous “harm principle,” which holds that each person must be afforded the right to exercise self-control over their own body and mind, and that “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.” 
Thus, Mill drew an important distinction between “self-regarding acts” and “other-regarding acts.” The former involve doing things to yourself that don’t harm other people, though they may be self-destructive. The latter involve doing things that harm other people. Mill argued that government should never prohibit or interfere with the former, even if these choices are self-destructive. As such, the harm principle allows individuals all the freedom they want to pursue their own views of the good life—up to the point where an unwilling person could be harmed. Freedom ends only where the next person’s nose begins.
Prostitution is a classic self-regarding act. If it harms anyone, it only harms those consenting to the act (i.e. sex workers or johns). In effect, it’s no different than most legal and consensual acts. Just as consensual possession of other people’s belongings is not theft, and consensual presence on other people’s premises is not trespass, and consensual sex isn’t rape, consensual exchange of sex for money shouldn’t be illegal. Under Mill’s harm principle, any argument for prohibiting or interfering with consensual acts that don’t harm anyone else is a non-starter.
What are the arguments against legalizing prostitution? Opponents usually argue that (1) it's harmful to prostitutes, and (2) it increases sex trafficking. I'll respond to each of these in turn. First, under the harm principle, it doesn't matter if prostitution is harmful to prostitutes because there's no justification for interfering with self-regarding acts, even if those acts are self-destructive. Second, there's no evidence that sex work is inherently harmful. The only evidence showing harms is related to the institutions surrounding illegal prostitution. Decriminalization solves those problems because it creates an explicit distinction between legal sex work and illegal sex trafficking and rape. This helps police enforce sex trafficking and rape laws, while granting legal sex workers the freedom to use their body and mind as they see fit, without harming anyone else.
In terms of sex trafficking, it's a huge topic with a lot to talk about, but at least this much isn't up for debate: trafficking is a profound crime that should be eradicated. But it's also an issue that requires much greater nuance than it's currently given. In the US, there's a distinction between really bad trafficking -- defined as "a commercial sex act induced by ford, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age" -- and just regular sex trafficking, defined as "the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act." In other words, "sex trafficking" is defined as consensual sex work by migrants. That's it. This distinction is critical. While the former is a profound crime, the latter is just another definition for sex work performed by migrants. This important point is often lost in debates about prostituion, as anti-trafficking and anti-prostitution discourse has blurred the line between these two categories. To be clear, "sex trafficking" as defined by the law is not synonymous with sexual servitude.
That poses a serious problem for actual anti-trafficking efforts, because it misdirects funds away from genuine victims, and onto sex workers who simply visit friends in a different city. In actuality, decriminalizing prostitution helps combat sexual servitude, by keeping our focus on the stuff that's actually bad. In short, definitions are important. The sloppy and overly-broad definition of trafficking is the problem, not sex work itself. Moreover, there's no evidence whatsoever that decriminalizing prostitution increases sexual servitude. There's no evidence that decriminalizing prostitution increases the type of sex trafficking you see in movies like Taken. And that's all I'll say on the trafficking issue unless my opponent brings it up.
Finally, there's an idea among opponents of prostitution that sex workers cannot consent to exchange sex for money. Why not? It's like any other job where you provide a service with the use of your body in exchange for money. There's nothing inherent about exchanging sex for money that makes consent impossible. To be sure, many prostitutes don't consent, but that's something that typically happens when prostitution is illegal. And, non-consensual sex is already covered under existing laws for rape, and sexual servitude is covered under the "severe sex trafficking" laws. Criminalizing prostitution is completely unnecessary. The US should decriminalize *consensual* prostitution.
The crux of this debate, it seems, will be the issue of whether or not self-harm should be regulated by the Government. I have no interest in arguing that prostitution is harmful to anyone except for those who take part in prostitution, nor will I argue that decriminalizing prostitution will lead to more nonconsensual prostitution – my opponent has dealt with those arguments already, and in an agreeable manner.
John Locke, arguably one of the most prominent proponents of self-ownership and the man responsible for modern conceptions of property rights, explicitly argued against the idea that all actions which do not affect others should be allowed. Quoting from his Second Treatise:
“But though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of licence: though man in that state have an uncontroulable liberty to dispose of his person or possessions, yet he has not liberty to destroy himself” 
As can be seen, he regarded certain acts as being impermissible regardless of the fact that they affect only the self – in the quote, he specifically addresses suicide, but the principle can be carried over to any example of self-harm, since, in harming one’s self, one destroys the capacity to live (or, at the very least, shows no respect for it), which is obviously the foundation of any moral system.
John Stuart Mill, who my opponent references, offers much the same opinion himself:
“The reason for not interfering, unless for the sake of others, with a person's voluntary acts, is consideration for his liberty. His voluntary choice is evidence that what he so chooses is desirable, or at the least endurable, to him, and his good is on the whole best provided for by allowing him to take his own means of pursuing it. But by selling himself for a slave, he abdicates his liberty; he forgoes any future use of it, beyond that single act. He therefore defeats, in his own case, the very purpose which is the justification of allowing him to dispose of himself. He is no longer free; but is thenceforth in a position which has no longer the presumption in its favour, that would be afforded by his voluntarily remaining in it. The principle of freedom cannot require that he should be free not to be free. It is not freedom, to be allowed to alienate his freedom.” 
In essence, in order for the freedom that my opponent values to be meaningful, it must not include the freedom to destroy itself – you cannot be free to not be free and still be free. As such, the concept that self-harm is always permissible has been totally laid to rest (using my opponent’s own source, no less! ). This means that I must only show that prostitution destroys the freedom to be free – if I can do so, all other concerns will be rendered irrelevant.
I accept my opponent’s characterization of prostitution as being just the exchange of money for sex. Where we differ is in our conceptions of sex itself. I take no issue with the claim that, if sex is to be allowed, so should sex for money – I would rather challenge the premiss that sex should be allowed in the first place.
First, what is the self? The human self, as distinguished from the selves of animals, has the characteristic of rationally-informed will. Where an animal may kill another for food, a human will build a farm. Freedom must be understood in relation to this self. To be free means to be free to live as a human, with everything that that implies – it is for this reason that Mill argues against “selling oneself into slavery”, since in doing so one forfeits their ability to practice their rational free will, even if they can still choose what crop to tend to first (for this is a different, more superficial, type of freedom – it’s essentially blind will).
For someone to be free, then, they must exercise their rationally-guided will. Choosing not to be free, as Mill says, should be restricted by the State, so any act which, when taken, would lessen freedom should be restricted. Sex falls under this category, as sex is an act wherein the participants do nothing but treat each other as means to an end. There is no respect for personhood inherent within sex – sex does not relate, in any way, with what it means to be human. Insofar as a person can enjoy sex, an animal could enjoy it to the same degree. It is wholly a primitive process that is only desired because of uncontrollable urges (i.e. urges not tempered by reason).
The animal desire to have sex (beyond what is necessary for procreation) is inherently irrational, as it relies solely on the desire for the fulfillment of the passions. No syllogism can prove the worth of sex that does not already assume its conclusion – for one to attempt such a task, one must first assume the premiss that “sex is desirable”, which itself must be rationally justified.
Therefore, unless my opponent can show that sex is rational, insofar as one partakes in it one is giving up their nature as a free entity. This should be countered with governmental force in order to maintain the freedom of all.
As an aside, sex is distinct from other animalistic behaviours (such as eating or sleeping) in that it is non-essential. One can continue living without having sex – the same cannot be said about abstaining from eating. This distinction renders any potential counterargument about the extensions of my case impotent.
Con argues that prostitution should be illegal because all sex should be illegal, and all sex should be illegal because it destroys freedom. Con's argument goes like this: sex is irrational, and all irrational actions destroy freedom, so therefore sex destroys freedom. This argument is nonsense.
First, consensual sex isn't inherently irrational. If I choose to have sex, it's a choice I make, and that choice is made on the basis of what Con calls a "rationally-guided will." The choice might be based on a number of different reasons. I could have sex because I believe it will give me pleasure (it almost certainly will). Or I could have sex because I want to have a child. Or I could have sex to assert my freedom from my parents. Or I could have sex to assert my freedom from prudish social norms. Or I could have sex to make someone I love happy (i.e. to give pleasure to someone else). Or I could have sex to assert my dominance over someone. Or I could have sex to assert my submission to someone. Each of these are rational choices. They are choices made on the basis of specific reasons with specific intents and goals.
Second, prohibiting sex is irrational. It would lead to the end of society, which in turn will lead to the end of freedom. If anything destroys freedom, it's a prohibition on sex.
Third, sex isn't slavery. They're not even in the same ballpark. Slavery inherently limits a person's available choices; consensual sex does not. If two individuals choose to have sex, they're still able to retract their consent, they're able to stop having sex, and they're able to do everything else they could do before they had sex. The act of having sex imposes no limit on the choices available to a person before they have sex. By definition, the act of having sex is completely unrelated to a person's freedom.
Finally, engaging in irrational actions demonstrates the existence of freedom. Contrary to Con's assertions, the ability to engage in irrational actions is fundamental to the notion of freedom. The idea that I can choose between two actions, a rational one and an irrational one, is the basis of what it means to be free. If I'm forced to only perform "rational" acts, there's no freedom at all. Freedom is about making choices. It's about having the capacity to choose a rational action or an irrational action. The key point is the capacity. Just because the choice you make is irrational doesn't mean you've lost the capacity to make that choice. Mill's point is that you should be able to decide between your available choices, even if some of those choices are irrational and self-destructive, as long as the choice you make preserves your capacity to make choices. This is why slavery is completely different from sex. Slavery destroys our capacity to make choices, whereas sex has no effect on that capacity at all.
Pro argues that one can rationally choose to have sex, and lists several potential examples where this is the case. However, all of them have one thing in common: reason is not necessary for them to be so. There is nothing inherent in any of the examples Pro gives that requires rationality - it's perfectly reasonable to imagine a non-rational entity with free will (e.g. a schizophrenic) justifying sex with any of these reasons. Given this, reason must not be necessary for any of these intentions, and therefore reason is not present in the intentions themselves at all (for if it was, they could not be conceived of outside of rational beings).
My opponent argues that, since no sex would result in no society, the resulting lack of freedom would be worse than the lack of freedom caused by sex. However, there is a distinction to be made between destroying the freedom of already-existing entities and stopping a potential for freedom from actualizing. The lives of people who are living are plainly more significant than the lives of people who are not even people yet - how can you say that a nonentity will be negatively affected by anything? The statement would be meaningless due to the lack of identity of its subject. As such, if one is to crusade against lacks of freedom, one must look only to the actual and not to the potential, rendering this objection impotent.
Re: Sex is not Slavery because it Does Not Restrict Choices
If one is drinking water, he cannot be simultaniously drinking milk, no matter how hard he tries to will reality to allow it. In the actual act of sex, one cannot do anything but have sex. This is pretty much a tautology - if one is having sex, one is wholly unfree to choose to not have sex at the same exact time as he is having sex. Therefore, there is some limit placed on freedom by having sex, thus totally negating this section of my opponent's rebuttal just by showing that it, at face value, is literally inaccurate.
My opponent is making the mistake of taking "freedom" to mean "being able to choose between alternatives" and nothing more. What he fails to mention is that, by that definition, slavery would be freedom, given that, in any slave camp, one is able to decide how to act, look (to an extent), speak, etc. Even the choice between picking one piece of cotton or another first shows that one can choose between alternatives. Therefore, unless my opponent wishes to contradict Mill, the man who he is basing his argument upon, and one of his most important points, he must recognize that freedom must mean more than just unqualified choice.
It is clear that the difference between a slave and a free man is that the slave is unable to live qua man - he is not able to excercise his rational faculties in all situations (since reason and force cannot coexist), and, since it is those faculties which make man man, he is reduced to the subhuman. He is, in essense, committing suicide of the soul because of this. If this is true, then irrationality is the basis for slavery (and thereforer philosophical suicide), and therefore any irrational act is, in itself, a denial of freedom (and, as such, may be rightfully restricted by a just government). This restriction of irrational acts is not, in itself, a restriction of freedom, anymore so than putting ice in a drink is a restriction of its coldness - it's quite the opposite, since the alternative is not a "choice to not make further choices according to man's nature", but rather just "the absence of man's nature in the man".
I must ask: is the statement "You cannot follow geometrical rules and still draw a square with four sides" a "restriction" on what one can do and still be geometrically accurate, or just a recognization of the fact that, if you ignore the advice, the result will be not-geometry? Even if it is some kind of restriction (this is irrelevant), the latter is still incredibly important to recognize. "Freedom to be unfree" is nonsense, since such a freedom would just be non-freedom, while a truely rational freedom would run into no such self-negation.
The harm principle gives individuals the freedom to pursue their own view of the good life unless their actions harm an unwilling person. Under that framework, slavery isn't protected because a slave owner impedes the ability of the slave to choose the direction of their life; slaves lack self-determination. Mill states: "he [the slave] forgoes any future use of it [his liberty], beyond that single act [selling oneself into slavery]." [Con's 2] Mill continues: "he is no longer free; but is thenceforth in a position which has no longer the presumption in its favour, that would be afforded by his voluntarily remaining in it." [Con's 2] In other words, a slave cannot choose to stop being a slave. The moment an individual becomes a slave, she loses the entirety of her ability to choose the direction of her life (i.e. she loses her capacity for self-determination).
In R2, Con argued that sex is not allowed by the harm principle. But as I said in R3, sex is nothing like slavery. Voluntarily having sex preserves self-determination; slavery doesn't. When you have sex, all the options you had before are still options during and after sex. But once you become a slave, every option you had before disappears. Instead, the slave owner decides what you can and cannot do. Every available choice is determined by the slave owner, not by the slave.
In R3, Con loses the debate immediately in his first paragraph by dropping my argument that sex is sometimes rational. Con argues that sex is sometimes irrational ("it's perfectly reasonable to imagine a non-rational entity (e.g. a schizophrenic) with free will justifying sex with any of these reasons"). I agree that sex is sometimes irrational (e.g. in the case of a schizophrenic). But lots of sex is between rational entities with free will and that sex is often rational. Context matters. Sex is sometimes irrational and sometimes rational. Con offers no argument otherwise. This dooms Con's entire case. Remember, the entirety of Con's argument rests on the assumption that sex is always irrational. Also, note that Con can't turnaround and argue otherwise now, because I will not have a chance to respond. For that reason alone, you can vote Pro.
I do not understand the rest of Con's rebuttal in R3. Let's go through it step-by-step. Con starts by comparing sex to the act of drinking water: "if one is drinking water, he cannot be simultaneously drinking milk"; "in the actual act of sex, one cannot do anything but have sex." This isn't true. You can mix water/milk together and drink them simultaneously, and you can have sex while listening to music, watching a movie, talking on the phone, making a movie, and all sorts of other things. You can also voluntarily choose to stop drinking water and start drinking milk, and you can voluntarily choose to stop having sex and do something else. There's no limit on your liberty there. You can still choose the direction of your life.
Con continues: "if one is having sex, one is wholly unfree to choose to not have sex at the same exact time as he is having sex." This is true. It's also just a convoluted way of stating the law of non-contradiction: "you can't do both X and not-X at the same time." This is an underlying fact that applies regardless of the choices you make. Con says this is a limit on freedom. If the law of non-contradiction is a limit on freedom, it is a limit created independently of any choice that any human makes. It is a limit that pervades all of existence. Most importantly, it is distinctly not a limit created by the act of having sex. It is therefore irrelevant to our discussion about the harm principle's specific application to sex.
Next, Con says a bunch of unsubstantiated stuff (which also happens to be blatantly untrue): "in any slave camp, one is able to decide how to act, look (to an extent), speak, etc." By definition, specifically the definition of slavery used by Mill in [Con's 2], slave owners decide the choices available to their slave. If the slave owner decides a slave is not allowed to do anything but lie in bed all day until the slave dies, the slave must lie in bed all day until he or she dies. That is what it means to be a slave under Mill's definition of slavery. If a slave owner says the slave must pick a specific piece of cotton first, the slave must pick that piece of cotton first. The slave only has discretion to the extent permitted by the slave owner.
Up to this point, I follow Con's argument, even though it's largely invalid. But the next paragraph is complete bullsh!t. I do not even know how to make sense of it. Con writes: "the difference between a slave and a free man is that the slave is unable to live qua man." I do not know what this means. In my understanding, the difference between a slave and a free man is the capacity for self-determination and the capacity for choosing the direction of your life. This is also the understanding held by Mill.
Con elaborates: "he [a slave] is not able to exercise his rational faculties in all situations... if this is true, then irrationality is the basis for slavery (and therefore philosophical suicide), and therefore any irrational act is, in itself, a denial of freedom." I am still confused. First, if a slave cannot exercise his rational faculties "in all situations," why is "irrationality" the "basis for slavery"? Just because a slave can't exercise his rational faculties "in all situations" doesn't mean a slave never exercises their rational faculties. Con even admits as much. If a slave owner allows it, a slave can choose which piece of cotton to pick first; this is an exercise of one's rational faculties.
Second, if irrationality is the basis for slavery, why is "any irrational act" a "denial of freedom"? I do not see how Con makes that leap. Even if irrationality is the basis for slavery, that doesn't mean all irrational acts deny freedom. That's a logical fallacy.  Even if both slavery and sex are irrational, that doesn't mean both deny freedom. Irrationality itself is not a denial of freedom. Indeed, the fact that slavery denies freedom has nothing to do with its rationality or irrationality. Slavery denies freedom because by definition it means not being free. Slavery denies freedom because by definition it means doing whatever your slave owner tells you to do, regardless of your own desires. In contrast, sex does not deny freedom. When you have sex, you still get to follow your own desires, follow your own view of the good life, and make self-determinations about the direction of your life. Sex is awesome; slavery isn't.
For all these reasons, and because Con's argument is a bunch of convoluted bullsh!t, vote Pro.
My opponent says that "When you have sex, all the options you had before are still options during and after sex", but this is untrue, as I have shown in my last round - having sex destroys your ability to choose to not have had sex. Assuming that Pro's framework is correct (i.e. assuming that actions which limit one's range of options can be justly regarded as immoral), and assuming that I have shown that sex does limit one's options, then I have fulfilled my burden of proof by showing how Pro's arguments leads directly to my conclusion.
In response to my argument that having sex precludes not having sex (and the example I gave of drinking milk or water), my opponent claims that "You can mix water/milk together and drink them simultaneously", missing the point completely - my original example, if charitably read, obviously assumes that one would have to choose between drinking one or the other. Because of my opponent's misrepresentation of my argument, this specific rebuttal fails.
He then starts to attack my argument on an arguably more reasonable basis, saying that "You can also voluntarily choose to stop drinking water and start drinking milk, and you can voluntarily choose to stop having sex and do something else." This, however, also misses the point, since the future paths open to a being do not influence the fact that his options are destroyed in the act of having sex. A man cannot both have sex and not have sex simultaniously, and, thus, if he chooses to have sex, he gives up the ability to not have sex while he is having sex.
My opponent's response to this is that, since the law of noncontradiction applies to all things, it is not specifically relevant to sex, and therefore is somehow irrelevant, even though he has just accepted that it is applicable to sex as well as to all the rest of reality! If he does accept the applicability of the Law of Noncontradiction to sex, even if it doesn't exclusively apply to sex, he still recogizes that sex falls under its domain, and therefore my argument is completely relevant.
Re: Round 3
My opponent accepts my premiss that sex can be irrational in nature. He ignores, however, a vital part of my argument - that, if sex can be irrational, then that means sex isn't necessarily rational, and, as such, no part of sex is, in itself, rational, making it necessarily ir/non-rational (and thus making any rationality involved in sex something that is wholly outside of sex itself, and thus irrelevant to the issue at hand). This is exactly the argument I made previously, and, since my opponent has essentially ignored it completely, the premiss that sex is irrational has been upheld.
Re: The Definition of Slavery
Quote: "If the slave owner decides a slave is not allowed to do anything but lie in bed all day until the slave dies, the slave must lie in bed all day until he or she dies."
Is it not true that, even in such a situation, the slave is still free to choose between alternatives? Can he not disobey and be shot by the slavemaster? Even if this is an unpleasant choice, it still is a choice nonetheless, and therefore, as I have argued, since no rational man would consider such a situation anything but slavery, slavery must involve something other than the restrictions of choices in general - the only thing left, then, is that slavery is the restriction of one's ability to make rationally-guided choices. My opponent does not address this chain of reasoning at all.
My opponent says that "Just because a slave can't exercise his rational faculties "in all situations" doesn't mean a slave never exercises their rational faculties", but this ignores the bigger picture - even if the slave can make low-level choices such as which piece of cotton to pick first, he is not able to excercise rationality overall - any attempt to rationally act outside of the dichotomies set forth by the slavemaster will be punished.
My opponent then tries to criticize how I connected slavery with sex by saying "Even if both slavery and sex are irrational, that doesn't mean both deny freedom." This, though, misses the point yet again - if, as I have proven, slavery is only slavery because it strangles rationality, then the essence of slavery is the restriction of rationality - if this is so, then anything that partakes in the restriction of rationality is, by definition, slavery. If I then show that sex restricts rationality, I have shown that sex is equivalent to slavery, and, since Mill, the theorist of my opponent's framework, clearly states that slavery can never be justified and should never be allowed by the State, sex must always be criminalized (thus, naturally, leading to the criminalization of sex for money).
In other words, the argument I have been advocating throughout this debate says this:
Slavery should always be outlawed
Sex is equal to slavery
Therefore, sex should always be outlawed.
Given this, I have upheld my BOP beyond a shadow of a doubt, and have thus won the debate.