The Philosophers' Magazine 63:15-17 (2013)

Brian D. Earp
Oxford University
In 2012, a German court ruled that religious circumcision of male minors constitutes criminal bodily assault. Muslim and Jewish groups responded with outrage, with some commentators pegging the ruling to Islamophobic and anti-Semitic motivations. In doing so, these commentators failed to engage with any of the legal and ethical arguments actually given by the court in its landmark decision. In this brief commentary, I argue that a firm distinction must be drawn between criticisms of religious practices that stem from irrational prejudice and bigoted attitudes and those that are grounded in sound moral reasoning. Given that ritual circumcision is a pre-Enlightenment custom that elevates the inclinations of the community over the rights of the individual, it is hardly surprising that a growing number of post-Enlightenment philosophers and legal scholars are taking an ethical stand against it. As the “circumcision debate” continues, parties on all sides of the issue must remember to reason through the relevant considerations with care and respect.
Keywords circumcision  ethics  religion  secular ethics  Enlightenment  medical ethics  bioethics  FGM  mutilation  children
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DOI 10.5840/tpm201363117
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References found in this work BETA

Excessive Tolerance? [REVIEW]Russell Blackford - 2012 - The Philosophers' Magazine 59:121-122.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Ethics of Infant Male Circumcision.Brian D. Earp - 2013 - Journal of Medical Ethics 39 (7):418-420.

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Routine Neonatal Circumcision: Symbol of the Birth of the Therapeutic State.Thomas Szasz - 1996 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 21 (2):137-148.
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