Modern liberalism, female circumcision, and the rationality of traditions

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 29 (4):473 – 497 (2004)
Tolerance is at the heart of Western liberalism, permitting mutually exclusive ideas and practices to coexist peacefully with one another, without the proponents of the differing ideas and practices killing one another. Yet, nothing challenges tolerance like the practice of sunna, female circumcision, clitorectomy, or genital mutilation. In this essay, I critique the Western critics of the practices, not in order to defend these practices, but rather to show that Western liberalism itself does not offer transcultural and transtemporal principles, for these principles only cohere within the tradition of liberalism. The Western critique of sunna often maps onto the bodies of African women Western symbolic notions of sexual and political freedom, as symbolized in the clitoris. The practices of sunna cohere within the web of beliefs, the tradition, of those who practice them and, thus, are rationally justified within those traditions. I offer Alasdair MacIntyre's notion of moral inquiry as a guide through the complex world of cultural and moral dialogue between differing traditions.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/03605310490503560
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 25,662
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
The Vagueness of "Tradition" and the Pain and Suffering of Children.D. Putman - 2008 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 33 (4):394-400.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

47 ( #105,843 of 2,143,766 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #280,273 of 2,143,766 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums