The Instigator
Pro (for)
7 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Parent-elective circumcision of offspring is ethically unacceptable

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/2/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 928 times Debate No: 28851
Debate Rounds (5)
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One of the most insidious and contentious debates alive today is that of whether parents have some fundamental right to irreversibly modify the bodies of their children according to their own desires, however they may be movated. It is often contentious, with deep animosity arising from contentions over religious freedom, and even deeper ties to the self image of those who wish they had not been circumcised.

To clarify the resolution, my resolution is that circumcision elected by parents for their offspring outside of the offspring's control (usually though not necessarily in infancy) is unethical. For the purposes of this debate, I will be arguing against the ethical acceptability of all forms of such parentally imposed circumcision.

Further, please pay special attention to the first and second rules of this debate. They are SPECIFICALLY for the purposes of preventing last-wordism and 8 rounds of back-and-forth. The exception to this is if a person's opponent makes an unsupported claim, the opponent may demand support from the previous post. If such a claim is declared suspect, it must be supported or the accusation will be accepted as uncontested. If such a claim is not declared suspicious, it will be accepted as uncontested. and they may not later return to it; no such unsupported claims may be made in round 5 by either party, though support may still be requested carrying over from round four to be presented in round 5.

1) First round is acceptance*, second round is argument, third round is rebuttal and additional supporting arguments, fourth round is pure rebuttal and final round is closing.
2) Responses shall be directed towards the previous rounds(s) only.
3) *CON may go first; if CON uses his first round for argument, PRO agrees his last round shall be a blank post, and for the purposes of voting and posting, rounds shall be offset by one post.
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8) Shared participation is encouraged; while there can only be one formal "PRO" and one formal "CON", any independently supported argument may be advanced and picked up by the formal debators.
9) First principles accepted in this debate must include that: "The universe exists"; "knowledge exists"; "all descriptive models have greater value than any non-descriptive model"; and that "equals OUGHT be treated equally".


I disagree, I feel parent-elective circumcision is ethically acceptable. For one the foreskin may be hazardous to the newborn's health in his adultlife. Doctor's may recommend circumcision if the amount of foreskin is excessive to the point where the child is at a high risk of developing Urinary tract infections. In this case, it is the early consent of the parents in favor of circumcision can be protective for the newborn in his growing years. Secondly, the recovery time is fastest at the infant stage. For an infant, the recovery time is 7 to 10 days compared to an adult who requires 4-6 weeks. However, circumcision at the infantile stage necessitates parental consent.
Debate Round No. 1


In the pursuit of a more free society, often it has been asked whether certain specific activities actually constitute freedom, or whether they simply constitute evil. Further, in full knowledge of my opponent's tendency to attempt to troll debates, I will again point out the fifth rule of this debate, which prohibits such behavior. CON's initial debate appears to be an argument, and so unless CON states otherwise in his next post I will assume that is the entirety of his inital argument.
  1. A basis of ethics.

    1. Ethics from first principles¹

      1. A definition of freedom:
        1. The freedom of a person to be is the extent of all things which do not themselves do insult to another person's freedom to be.
        2. That which does such insult is not a freedom.

      2. A definition of responsibilities:
        1. We have a responsibility to all other persons who claim freedom to defend that freedom from that which would do it insult.
        2. This by its nature includes a responsibility to NOT do that which is NOT a freedom.

      3. A definition of fairness:
        1. That which we claim for ourselves as freedom must be accepted as freedom for others, or denied among the freedoms of self.

    2. Additional support exists in the convergence of world religions, generally accepted philosophies of government, etc. [1][2][3]
      1. Note, it is not the claims that provide support; any one of them alone is simply an argument from authority. Rather, their convergence is the support offered for the above definitions.

  2. An evaluation of the ethics of circumcison specifically

    1. Arbitrarily imposed circumcision reduces the freedom of a person to be.
      1. The future adult upon whom circumcision is imposed no longer retains the ability to be not-circumcised of their own will.
      2. The future adult upon whom circumcision is not imposed retains the ability to be circumcised of their own will.
      3. If such is to BE arbitrary, it cannot be considered a responsibility; responsibilities are obligations, not arbitrary decisions.

    2. The American-established freedom of religion implies the freedom of abstention from religion; else it would be a coercion of religion.
      1. The future adult upon whom a rite is forcibly performed is no longer able to retain the ability to have abstained from that rite of their own will.
      2. The future adult upon whom a rite is not forcibly performed retains the ability to participate in that rite of their own will.

    3. Discussion of medical “benefits” cannot satisfy the resolution for CON.
      1. This discussion is about the right of a parent to arbitrarily circumcise, hence “elective”, not whether they ought be required to do so.
      2. If society does decide as a whole that the risks of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) in uncircumcised people are a more significant insult to the collected freedoms of society than the loss of freedom of individuals to choose which ways they enjoys sex, then circumcision becomes a matter of responsibility. If Circumcision is an individual responsibility, it is no longer “elective” for the parent, but it is elected by society and therefore considered a responsibility every person in that society to see that the circumcision happens.

    4. Circumcision is not necessary for achieving the hypothetical medical benefits.
      1. There is no such increased risk for those who are sufficiently careful with sexual behavior; for those who use condoms or practice monogamy, the risks of circumcision can far outweigh any marginal decrease in risk of STI.
      2. Rates of STI among circumcised vs. uncircumcised individuals do not become an issue until AFTER the individual has matured to the point where they are capable of making their own informed decisions, particularly how they wish to reduce the risks of their behavior to society.

    5. Circumcision carries risks (or sometimes outright intent) of harm in addition to any possible benefits.
      1. Concrete examples of such botched circumcisions exist[1].
      2. Recent studies indicate that the risk of UTI is significantly higher in circumcised males[2], particularly following infant (parent-elective) circumcision[3].
      3. Imposition of such risks upon a future adult does insult to their freedom to be without those risks,
        AND to choose which of the various risks they will accept.
      4. In the event of an infection for which circumcision is the only effectual course of action, it is no longer elective; The future adult has a full entitlement to freedom to be, and circumcision then provides the greatest freedom to them, as it is the path through which there is the least amount of permanent damage. it becomes a responsibility to save the child’s existing capabilities, but only when it is necessary to that end.

  3. Circumcision vs other religious rites

    1. The difference between circumcision and other physically altering religious rites is primarily one of extent.
      1. Tattoos (obscene or socially stigmatizing tattoos, for example), removal of limbs, etc. are nearly universally recognized as being unacceptable to the infant, as they carry with them a loss of function or permanent and perhaps unwanted alteration of function for the future adult. The only remarkable difference between these and circumcision is the extent of the alteration or loss of function; if these actions are to be prohibited because they impart permanent and irreversible alteration of function or loss of function, circumcision ought be prohibited as it falls within that class of activity.

    2. Female Genital Mutilation for religious purposes is widely recognized as unacceptable, therefore so is Male Genital Mutilation.
      1. BOP rightfully rests on any claimant that there is a meaningful difference of quality between two things.

  4. Conclusions

    1. Logical Framework:
      1. Circumcision does insult in various aspects to the (religious) freedom of the persons whom the child victims will become.
      2. Circumcision does not necessarily increase the freedom of the persons whom the child victims will become.
      3. Circumcision is a clear harm, and thus a it is a clear non-freedom to impose it on any other person.
      4. Circumcision denies the right to of the adult to make informed consent to risks of circumcision.
      5. Even if circumcision is accepted as a societal responsibility, that does not equate into a fundamental right to arbitrary circumcision initiated by a second party.
      6. Circumcision cannot be ethically differentiated from other clearly unethical religious impositions upon children, including what are clearly unacceptable forms of circumcision.
      7. For any one of these reasons, arbitrarily imposed circumcision does insult to the freedom of the adult the child will become.
      8. Therefore the ability to arbitrarily impose circumcision upon an adult is not within the class of “freedoms”
      9. Parent-Elective circumcision is arbitrarily imposing circumcision.

    2. Therefore No parent has a fundamental right to elective circumcision for their offspring.

¹ This claim is considered to be uncontroversial, however I do have supporting arguments/logic for this claim. If contested, it will be directly supported in round 3.

Additional sources for “weak” claims shall be provided upon request.

[1] 3 Matthew 7:12
[2] Udana-Varga 5,1
[3] The United States Declaration of Independence

Copyright (C) 2012 Andrew Kathan

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation A copy of the license is available at


delusionalbeing forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


I rest my case.


delusionalbeing forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


See above


delusionalbeing forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


and again.


delusionalbeing forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit. Con had no sources, while Pro did, Con had multiple errors in S&G in the one response they made.