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K-State Today

April 16, 2014



Diaz de Sabates, Sabates present at a philosophy conference in Morelia, Mexico

By Gabriela Diaz de Sabates

On April 11, Gabriela Díaz de Sabatés in women's studies, and Marcelo Sabatés, in the international programs office, presented "Is it possible to justify that female genital mutilation is morally wrong?" at the XVII International Philosophy Congress in Morelia, Mexico.

Philosophical discussions on moral relativism usually end up in the following dialectic structure: A moral relativist, by defending that it is not reasonable to morally judge practices adopted by groups and cultures different from ours, encounters real cases of cultural practices that seem intuitively oppressive. The moral relativist's response usually is: "Who are we to judge?"

In many cases, this is an attractive slogan, comfortable and easy to adopt. But, when aberrant cases such as torture, deprivation of freedom, or mass murders are considered, such slogan becomes more difficult to accept. Female genital mutilation is a controversial practice about which people seem to have strong opinions.

It is a practice, it can be claimed, that potentially presents elements from the three cases mentioned above, and as such it can be a telling example to consider and evaluate moral relativism and its components. In their presentation, Díaz de Sabatés and Sabatés explored, by employing a multicultural base, diverging principles and moral intuitions in order to test the possible adjustments between these very same principles and intuitions and the moral status of female genital mutilation.