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Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 179–191 | Cite as

Bodily integrity and male and female circumcision

  • Wim DekkersEmail author
  • Cor Hoffer
  • Jean-Pierre Wils
Scientific Contribution

Abstract.

This paper explores the ambiguous notion of bodily integrity, focusing on male and female circumcision. In the empirical part of the study we describe and analyse the various meanings that are given to the notion of bodily integrity by people in their daily lives. In the philosophical part we distinguish (1) between a person-oriented and a body-oriented approach and (2) between four levels of interpretation, i.e. bodily integrity conceived of as a biological wholeness, an experiential wholeness, an intact wholeness, and as an inviolable wholeness. We argue that bodily integrity is a prima facie principle in its own right, closely connected with, but still fundamentally different from, the principle of personal autonomy, that is, autonomy over the body.

Keywords

bodily integrity bodily wholeness female circumcision male circumcision mutilation 

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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ethics, Philosophy and History of MedicineUniversity Medical CentreNijmegenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.RIAGGRotterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Centre for EthicsRadboud UniversityNijmegenThe Netherlands

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