The Instigator
WrickItRalph
Con (against)
Winning
3 Points
The Contender
oalks
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

Is Circumcision Moral?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
WrickItRalph
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/24/2019 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,161 times Debate No: 120477
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (28)
Votes (1)

 

WrickItRalph

Con

I'll just state my position. I believe that circumcision is both unnecessary and absolutely harmful to newborns. These will be my key points.

Go ahead an state your position and add any sources or supporting details that you like. I don't necessarily need citations for any stats you give. But if you're not sure, Then try to avoid using numbers and make them as complete as possible. These aren't rules, Just suggestions for a good debate ;)

Your floor
oalks

Pro

First and foremost: I'm going to be playing a bit of devil's advocate here.

I will attempt to argue for the morality of circumcision, Below is a brief outline of some of my points of contention.

1. Circumcision reduces the risk of STDs, Penile cancer, And protection from cervical cancer.

Several studies have shown this to be the case. I do not know if linking is allowed during debates, Perhaps you could clarify if it is?

2. Religious freedom.

I believe these people should have the right to practice circumcision. Provided safety precautions are taken, And the operation is performed by a medical professional.

3. Consolidation of individual's identity.

This point is primarily aimed at justification of adult circumcision - which Is an integral part of your question.
Debate Round No. 1
WrickItRalph

Con

So before I get to the main points. I would like to just comment on the source you sent me for a moment.

The study shows a slight improvement in HIV numbers in Africa, But later in the report it states that this may not be applicable with America. I've actually heard about this study and I know that it has been criticized for lacking sufficient data. Specifically, The researchers did not take enough steps to ensure that other factors outside of the circumcision itself affected the numbers. We could safely assume from the studies that there is at least a very slight improvement and would warrant more study. But I don't think we should consider it conclusive. Onto the points

1. Circumcision reduces the risk of STDs, Penile cancer, And protection from cervical cancer

Concerning STDs, This was in the same source that you gave me earlier, Do you have additional reasons to believe this beyond your source? There was a studying involving circumcision's effect on penile cancer, But as far as I know, It was highly discredited. I'm not going to push you too hard on this because I'm sure you will highlight it in your opening arguments, So we'll discuss it then. I've never heard the one about cervical cancer. We might have to talk about this one on a tangent because female circumcision has different medical implications, But we should definitely cover it.

2. Religious freedom.

I do not believe that Religious freedom should be prioritized over body autonomy. Although it's a valid point in the case of adult circumcision.

3. Consolidation of individual's identity

I will accept all consensual forms of adult circumcision. If that's the only point of this premise, Then I concede it. However, If you're trying to make an argument that the parent should be allowed to consolidate their child's identity for them. Then I reject the premise outright.

So that's my first impressions of your premises. I will consider any points you make on them to change my opinion.

Here are my premises

1. Circumcision is unnecessary.

There's not trickery here. I am positing that there is no practical use to circumcision. I know there are emotional reasons that people want to do it and I would only accept those in the cause of adult circumcisions and only if the adult is doing it consensually without coercion. However, I will not accept emotional appeals for minors. I think this properly outlines where my criticism is being focused. So practically speaking, I think chopping off a piece of flesh from a penis doesn't benefit them in any way and it causes them both physical pain and they often become botched. Even when they are done correctly, They limit the person's sexual pleasure, Can become infected, And can actually make sex painful. There are also some cases where a dubiously performed circumcision could passively cause pain to the person because the skin is too tight. This would be a problem that someone would have to deal with for their entire life. The only way that I could concede this premise would be if you can prove that the practical benefits of circumcision outweigh the harm it does. I will not accept any emotional appeals or opinions as benefits. They must be practical.

2. Circumcision is Harmful

Circumcision causes a great deal of pain, Can be botched, And can lead to long term harm. There are no good stats on botched circumcisions at the moment because a lot of them do not present as botched until later on when the child goes to the pediatrician. But just by looking at newborns, We know they are at the very least more common than most medical mistakes. This isn't problematic per se. But an issue arises when we add in the fact that botched circumcisions can lead to infant deaths. Now once again, Surgeries have a chance of death, So this is necessarily a problem, But when we add in the fact that we have no medical reason to perform the circumcisions in the first place, Then we finally have a problem.

Conclusion: Circumcision is immoral.

Granted that the first two premises are valid and sound, It logically entails that circumcision is immoral, Because it is immoral to cause unnecessary harm.

Your floor.
oalks

Pro

I will begin with the defense of my own assertions, Then subsequently address your premises.

The study I linked you through the comments was certainly inconclusive. My primary objective in linking that manifesto specifically was to outline the purported benefits of circumcision. When I linked the manifesto I stated "factors such as behavior or genealogy could have interfered with the studies accuracy" or something of that effect.

1. With the above statement in mind, I will be using more substantive sources. I believe the most compelling source available is the CDC's "Background, Methods, And Synthesis of Scientific Information Used to Inform "Information for Providers to Share with Male Patients and Parents Regarding Male Circumcision and the Prevention of HIV Infection, Sexually Transmitted Infections, And other Health Outcomes".

The paper itself is very much worth reading. Here are some relevant quotations from the paper, I will list page and paragraph number in the comments within an hour.

"In a comprehensive risk-benefit analysis of infant male circumcision based on reviews of the literature and meta-analyses, It is estimated that over a lifetime, Benefits exceed risks by a factor of 100:1. "

"In a meta-analysis of male circumcision status and cervical cancer in female partners, Data from 7 case-control studies were pooled. 227 Circumcision was associated with significantly less HPV infection in men. In an analysis restricted to monogamous women, There was a nonsignificant reduction in the odds of having cervical cancer among women with circumcised partners (OR 0. 75 [95% CI = 0. 49"1. 14]). When the couples with men with X04; 5 lifetime partners (40% of the study population) were excluded, The odds of cervical cancer in female partners of circumcised men were significantly reduced compared with female partners of uncircumcised men (OR 0. 42 [95% CI = 0. 23"0. 79]). The most common complications reported were for bleeding and infection, Which are minor and easily managed. "

"A multicenter prospective study of 1, 025 febrile infants aged < 2 months found that 9. 0% of the fevers were attributable to UTIs. Of the uncircumcised male infants, 21. 3% had UTIs compared with 2. 3% of the circumcised male infants. "

2. You're correct about religious freedom and bodily autonomy. I just disagree with the presupposition. You're assuming this has any bearing on autonomy, Which it doesn't. Circumcision is a viable method of preventing STIs, And when performed properly, A beneficial medical procedure.

3. I'm glad you'll concede that all consensual forms of adult circumcision are okay. But if all adult circumcisions are ok, Then logically, There must not be an extremely detrimental effect on the patient's health.

Now I will briefly address your premises.

1. I think whether circumcision is necessary has little bearing on the morality of it. If this procedure has been shown to be beneficial, Then I think it should be practiced by more people.

2. There is plenty of things that could be considered harmful but also necessary. For example, In certain surgeries such as heart or brain surgery, The patient's life is at constant risk.
Debate Round No. 2
WrickItRalph

Con

My bad, I didn't know you put a disclaimer.

1. Why is this study restricted to monogamous women only. That completely destroys the statistics. Of course a monogamous women is going to get less STD's. You're not getting your studies from Christian organizations are you? Because I will reject them outright on the grounds that they have a stake in the matter. Just for the moment however, I'm going to temporarily grant your argument so I can show that it doesn't hold up. What you're basically trying to argue, Is that circumcision is a beneficial medical procedure, So we should allow people to do it. Now we both agree on adult circumcisions. So that gets thrown off the table for the whole debate. So here's my problem. Circumcision is cosmetic, Elective surgery that, By definition mutilates the child. Whether or not it's beneficial, We should not be performing this surgery on a child when they are too young to give consent. That's my problem with the "it's beneficial" claim.

2. So I'm not sure how this doesn't concern body autonomy. Newborns should be allowed autonomy as well. If you want to chop off a piece of a newborns genitals, Male or female, Then that newborn should get a say. Since we cannot ask them. We should leave them the eff alone. Now onto children. Children that can speak do not necessarily have the wisdom to understand the long term implications of genital mutilation. I mean, There's people reading this right now who find this situation to be difficult. So if grown adults are having trouble with this subject, Then maybe we shouldn't leave it up to the kids. Once we get into teenagers, I would say that parental consent laws can apply. Although I think that ANYONE going into this surgery should be given a thorough briefing on what could possibly happen. I will also speak from a personal level and say that I personally am thoroughly pissed at my parents for making my medical decisions for me and they violated my wishes in doing so. I would have never chose to have any piece of me chopped off.

3. Okay, I'm gonna have to address that last little bit that you tagged on. The only reason that I agree to adult circumcisions, Is because I don't think self harm is any of our business. I'm not saying that I want adults chopping their genitals up. I'm saying that it's a bad idea but they can do whatever they want. So I am not conceding for a second that circumcisions are safe just because adults can do it. Adults can get gender confirmation surgeries too, Doesn't mean I think it's a good idea. It's just none of my business.

On to my Premises. *yay*

1. It is relevant in that if it can be shown to be necessary, Then my whole argument crumbles, Lol. So it's relevant to me. Also, You contradicted what you said here on my next premise *spoiler alert*

2. "There is plenty of things that could be considered harmful but also necessary. For example, In certain surgeries such as heart or brain surgery, The patient's life is at constant risk. "

I thought you just said that it was irrelevant if the procedure was necessary or not? You're right, Heart surgeries can be necessary and that's why I'm not arguing against those. Also you contradicted yourself because you just said that circumcision being necessary was a non sequitur. So which is it. Does necessity matter or not? Look. Just because a surgery is beneficial, Which I'm not saying that it is, Doesn't mean that we should be doing it on children against their will. The fact is that even if there were some slight benefits to it, Genital mutilation does more harm than good. Even when everything goes correctly, You're left with over 80% of your sexual stimulation taken away. Scientists know this is as a fact because they can count the nerve endings on a foreskin. Also, As I mentioned in my opening, It can be botched in such a way that it causes life time pain. It kills newborns, Needlessly.

On a side note, I would also like to point out that most of the places that research "benefits" to genital mutilation are usually doing so with the agenda of trying to prove it so. The fact is that circumcision is a religious practice and the Abrahamic religions want to justify it so they turn to pseudo science. I wouldn't care, Except this is getting children hurt. One of the first things a newborn could ever experience might be the most painful experience of their life. People appeal by saying "oh they won't remember". This is a weak argument and a little apathetic if you ask me. They feel the pain and it has lasting psychological effects. So whether or not they remember it is irrelevant to me.

your floor.
oalks

Pro

This is certainly turning out to be as interesting as I thought it would be.

1. The quotations I've used thus far have been taken from the CDC's paper which I named in my round 2 arguments. I don't think I've misrepresented them, I provided the specific page and paragraph number for them in the comments.

A large portion of these studies do account for behavioral difference, I think it's effect on those of differing sexuality may warrant more research.

It may be considered cosmetic to some people, I'm not debating that. The issue I'm having that it isn't EXCLUSIVELY a cosmetic surgery. Implemented properly it could be an effective, Ethical method of preventing contraction of STIs.

2. I misspoke in my prior rebuttal on this point. Medical procedures always face this issue, It certainly has an effect on autonomy, Just not enough to warrant a significant case against circumcision.

I know it hurts to think about, But I'm going to use amputation as an example. Amputation of the leg or arm would significantly impair normative function; therefore, It would be unethical to use amputation as a preventative measure.

3. It is very much our business if we're arguing the morality of circumcision.

On to your premises.

My arguments in no way contradict themselves. I was attempting to display the absurdity of your arguments, Not make my own. I will admit that I should have stated "primarily beneficial, " instead of just "beneficial, " to prevent misunderstanding. Something can be incredibly harmful but also necessary.

Heart and Brain surgery are moral primarily because the benefit outweighs the cost.

Certainly, I'm in complete agreement about confirmation bias, This is also why I am not citing religious sources. "They won't feel it" isn't an argument, It's an excuse to avoid confronting their own callousness.
Debate Round No. 3
WrickItRalph

Con

You posed great counterpoints allow me to address them.

"1. The quotations I've used thus far have been taken from the CDC's paper which I named in my round 2 arguments. I don't think I've misrepresented them, I provided the specific page and paragraph number for them in the comments. "

I was just curious. I still find the part about the woman all being managomous to be a dubious factor, But I seen no glaring problem besides the fact that studies are probablistic and we should always be careful about the conclusions we draw from them. You did tell us to take them with a grain of salt. So I appreciate that.

"It may be considered cosmetic to some people, I'm not debating that. The issue I'm having that it isn't EXCLUSIVELY a cosmetic surgery. Implemented properly it could be an effective, Ethical method of preventing contraction of STIs. "

I am still skeptical about whether or not circumcision has any benefits at all. But even if I granted that. This argument isn't germane. I've granted adult circumcision to you and this doesn't apply to children. I'll cut to the chase with a simple question. How many babies do you know with STIs? For the sake of my sanity I hope the answer is zero. The only age at which I would grant this is after 16 with parental consent and only if a pre op breifing is done on the teenager so they can change their mind if they want.



"2. I misspoke in my prior rebuttal on this point. Medical procedures always face this issue, It certainly has an effect on autonomy, Just not enough to warrant a significant case against circumcision.
"

I must take issue here. Body autonomy is the right to choose. The only time superceding autonomy is warranted is in life and death situations. Even then, There are still times when autonomy holds up. There is no elective surgery that gets special treatment from the right to choose. I absolutely will not budge on this point.

"It is very much our business if we're arguing the morality of circumcision. "
Not sure wha't you're getting at here. I was saying that it's none of my business if an adult gets a circumcision. You have no right to tell someone they can't harm themselves. If I can smoke cigarettes and sky dive. Then people can follishly mutilate themselves. Honestly, You're kind of working against yourself here. I'm saying that self harm is morally neutral. If you want to grant it to be wrong, Then you're arguing against your own claim.


Glad we can agree on that. the less tangents, The better ;)

Your floor.
oalks

Pro

Finally, We're getting to the actual roots of the moral dilemma.

Your objection to the statistics certainly wasn't baseless. I just think it's more applicable against statistics in general. I think in a Moral debate we generally shouldn't overly emphasize statistical data. The only reason I was pushing them so hard is because of the premises you outlined.

"I am still skeptical about whether or not circumcision has any benefits at all. But even if I granted that. This argument isn't germane. I've granted adult circumcision to you and this doesn't apply to children. "

It isn't analogous in a MORAL sense but it is in functionality, Your secondary premise was that circumcision is harmful. To say you're okay with circumcision in adults while calling it harmful is contradictory, Unless you're actively endorsing self-harm.

"I must take issue here. Body autonomy is the right to choose. The only time superceding autonomy is warranted is in life and death situations. Even then, There are still times when autonomy holds up. There is no elective surgery that gets special treatment from the right to choose. I absolutely will not budge on this point. "

I understand if you won't budge in your opinion here. But I think this claim about autonomy is indicative of what underlies and shapes our bioethical perspectives. I think, In many cases, Violating patient autonomy is permissible. Provided it's nearly entirely beneficial.

I hate to compare you to anti-vaccination, But it's startlingly similar in terms of belief. If a child or a child's parent doesn't want a shot, Should we still give it to them?
Debate Round No. 4
WrickItRalph

Con

Okay, Seems like we're on the same page with statitistics

"It isn't analogous in a MORAL sense but it is in functionality, Your secondary premise was that circumcision is harmful. To say you're okay with circumcision in adults while calling it harmful is contradictory, Unless you're actively endorsing self-harm. "

I get what you mean and this is why I said we probably wouldn't agree on this. It's not that I endorse self harm. It's just none of my buisess. People have unlimited access to themselves so it's impossible to prevent self harm. That's my stance and we'll have to respectfully disagree there, But circumcising babies isn't a self harm issue becaues the baby is not choosing to harm itself nor is it allowed to because it's a minor.

"I think, In many cases, Violating patient autonomy is permissible. Provided it's nearly entirely beneficial. "

Being beneficial isn't good enough. Patients have the right reject ANY medical treatment. Let me highlight the nature of ethics here. First of all, I'm a more partiularlist. That means no value is solely right or wrong. It depends entirely on the situation. Let's get that out of the way. I am not an anti vaccer and I can prove that it's not the same situation. If I choose to circumcise my baby, It inflcts no harm against society. Inversely, Choosing not to vaccinate my child can cause other people around my child to get sick. So this makes vaccines necessary. There is no conclusive evidence that circumcision has any benefits and STI's can be handled in more effective ways. Can you provide me with a logical proof or source that shows that circumcision is more effective than other treatments for STIs? Because your arguments are only getting me to adult circumcision with some teenage cases being okay and that's it. Extraordinary claims require extraodinary evidence. claims presented without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
I will also ask you practically speaking, What is wrong with just waiting to til the kid turns 16 to give them their circumcision? If it's so beneficial then I'm sure its not a problm right?



oalks

Pro

I'm going to keep this brief and avoid argumentation as this is the last round.

"People have unlimited access to themselves so it's impossible to prevent self-harm. "

Here is our primary point of differentiation. I'm fine with banning circumcision in cases where there is an impure motive.

"Being beneficial isn't good enough. Patients have the right reject ANY medical treatment. Let me highlight the nature of ethics here. First of all, I'm a more partiularlist. "

This certainly isn't a radical view to hold, It's the common libertarian perspective. I think there is an immensely interesting debate to be had around moral particularism, And it certainly isn't something I could address within the space of one debate cycle.

As I said, I hated to compare you to an anti-vaccer, But figured if I hadn't mentioned something radical you wouldn't have spilled the beans about your actual ethical disposition.

"There is no conclusive evidence that circumcision has any benefits and STI's can be handled in more effective ways. Can you provide me with a logical proof or source that shows that circumcision is more effective than other treatments for STIs? "

I have attempted to give you sufficient evidence that it prevents STIs, I'm not going to post anymore in my final post because you will not be able to refute them. I was never arguing that it was more effective than another readily available measure such as condoms or abstinence. I think it's also important to differentiate between corrective and preventive measures, I was never arguing for circumcision as a corrective measure.

"I will also ask you practically speaking, What is wrong with just waiting to til the kid turns 16 to give them their circumcision? If it's so beneficial then I'm sure its not a problm right? "

Sure, That's perfectly fine if they choose to do so.
Debate Round No. 5
28 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by oalks 3 years ago
oalks
I only made that presumption because most people aren't that refined in their argumentation.

If the path to enlightenment is through hell, Then I will bear the world's suffering without complaint.
Posted by Thoht 3 years ago
Thoht
Trust me, It is certainly not unintentional on my part to mention that. I'm more concise in my comments than I am in my debates.

I'm less interested in debating well than finding the truth of a scenario though. I can't play devil's advocate on this site as a debate exercise. Maybe if I'm specifically training someone, But I have little interest to do that here.
Posted by WrickItRalph 3 years ago
WrickItRalph
Fair point. Got to do the leg work I guess ;)
Posted by oalks 3 years ago
oalks
Well, I doubt the average individual advocating circumcision would've made it this far, This assumption was the primary reason behind my proposal.

I meant it specifically would've disassembled the arguments I made - namely, The cost:benefit paradigm, As well as the autonomy argument.
Posted by WrickItRalph 3 years ago
WrickItRalph
lol, I meant "You did a good job" Not me.
Posted by WrickItRalph 3 years ago
WrickItRalph
Thanks for the discourse. I did a good job of coolly stay on topic. I wasn't comfortable addressing the psychological angle because I didn't feel confident enough that I could provide sufficient evidence. Psychology has a lot of debate over things and people who are pro circ seem not to respond to this argument in my opinion. I usually get the standard "It's hygienic and I don't want them to get made fun of" then they go to the "Oh they won't remember it". It's definitely a valid point though.
Posted by oalks 3 years ago
oalks
Now that the debate is over I'm going to stop playing devil's advocate.

I have a simple question for you though: Why didn't you address the psychological inadvisability of circumcision? It seems if it's detrimental to the child's psyche as he ages my entire argument falls apart.

Thoht actually mentioned this (probably unknowingly, Though), And I knew I couldn't directly address it without my entire premise falling apart. He said: "However, It wasn't my religious freedom that was being protected when my parents genitally mutilated me. It was theirs. I do not want to have been mutilated. "

So I chose to make it an issue of liberty and religion instead to draw your attention away.

I think I understand more of the contrived logic behind supporting circumcision, And more importantly, Why it's detrimental. This was enjoyable, And probably a very unique first debate.
Posted by WrickItRalph 3 years ago
WrickItRalph
duly noted
Posted by oalks 3 years ago
oalks
I meant to say in my earlier comments a decrease in minor problems, Not an increase.
Posted by oalks 3 years ago
oalks
I'm hoping that it will let me post it this time, I kept getting an error when I tried to submit my comment earlier.

I was also quite confused by the connection between male circumcision and female cervical cancer. The CDC paper does mention the "biological plausibility" of increased risk of STIs, But never addresses cervical cancer. Perhaps they work on similar mechanisms - I'm not going to argue the cause as I simply don't understand it well enough.

I think it's certainly strange, But if it's an effective and primarily beneficial measure, Then I think it should be an option for the parents.

What makes you think children are old enough to decide on circumcision before they're sexually active? If they aren't old enough to understand the perils of sexuality, Then how could they ever consent to self "mutilation" as you're both putting it.

Given the above, And your contention that "We should be judging the consequences at infancy not after the child is old enough to choose. ", I think the statistics of children are also applicable.

A simple survey of children implied an increase in minor problems. Https://www. Ncbi. Nlm. Nih. Gov/pubmed/3946358

It's important there wasn't a statistically significant reduction in the frequency of specific conditions, But a large decrease in the total frequency of complications (14% to 6%).

I think the primary difference between anti-vaccination and circumcision is the scientific literature is VERY clear about the detrimental effects of avoiding vaccines.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Thoht 3 years ago
Thoht
WrickItRalphoalksTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro says he believes this is not a bodily autonomy issue when religious freedom vs bodily autonomy is brought up. That is quite silly. It is not any less our bodies because we are infants. If I convinced your parents that cutting off your left testicle was a healthy option then you at the age of 27 would consider it a bodily autonomy matter. That you should be consulted on this permanent decision. Why is it less your body when you are an infant? This procedure can be done now or later. The health benefits you point out largely don't apply until sexual activity occurs. On top of that, we're trading permanent damage for several minor health benefits at best. No causal link was established, and Pro's own admittance is that the data is inconclusive. Until you can establish a causal relationship, you have no point at all here. Both sides agree on circumcision for people that want it later in life. The health benefits arrive mostly later in life if at all. Infant circumcision is immoral.

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