Forbidding intentional mutilation: Some unintended consequences?

In a recent IPQ article, Christopher Kaczor gave a promising argument in which he strove to reconcile the common belief that obstetric craniotomy (the crushing of nearlyborn fetuses’ heads) is immoral with his clear and intuitively attractive account of intention. One of Kaczor’s crucial assumptions is that intentional mutilation is morally impermissible. In this article I argue that Kaczor’s analysis has three potential problems: (1) the mutilating features of craniotomy do not appear to meet Kaczor’s criteria for being intended, so his account doesn’t show craniotomy to be impermissible; (2) some commonly-accepted acts, including voluntary sterilization, are acts of intentional mutilation according to Kaczor’s definition and are thus forbidden on his account; and (3) some acts that intuitively seem to constitute intentional mutilation do not meet Kaczor’s definition of “mutilation” and are not ruled out by his account. I suggest slight modifications to Kaczor’s account that might address these difficulties
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  History of Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 0019-0365
DOI 10.5840/ipq20074747
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