[Massimo] No, I don’t.
[Michael] Why? On what basis?
[Massimo] I don’t because I don’t think it is ethical to force especially a child, especially somebody who cannot actually object to it, to undergo pain for arbitrary reasons that are not useful to the person. It’s okay to undergo pain for reasons that are not arbitrary and are good for you. Like, you know, if you have to have an operation to get a tumor out of the way, well that’s going to cause you pain. And if I have to do it on a child, even without her consent, I think that’s ethically acceptable. But in [the other] case I don’t. Now, this was the short story, then we can get into a more complex discussion because in fact the choice of the child, the welfare of the child, is not just as simple as a question of, as a matter of, pain or not pain. There is also the societal context, because as it turns out if you don’t do it the children will suffer because they live in a certain society. Now I still think that doesn’t outweigh the idea that genital mutilation is wrong, so I still think it should be objected to.
[Massimo] That is not at all what I said. I said that it is wrong, period.
[Michael] How do you know that it’s wrong period?
[Massimo} I think I explained that I think it’s wrong to impose pain for arbitrary reasons. And those are arbitrary reasons, as I said, as opposed to I’m going to cure you of a tumor.
[Michael] What are you basing that on?
[Massimo] That’s not based on any empirical evidence whatsoever, because what empirical evidence would that be, that people don’t want to feel pain and want to feel pleasure? If that were all the basis to our morality we could just hook ourselves to a drug machine for the rest of our lives. we would be very happy and not in pain. And yet most of us don’t think that’s a reasonable thing to do. Why not?
[Massimo] But who is arguing against adding it?
[Michael] You seem to be.
[Massimo] No, I don’t think so. We need to be careful about making this distinction. Again, I don’t think any reasonable moral philosopher would object to importing empirical evidence, empirical issues, into discussions of morality. The question is how much does that empirical information weigh.
2. (1) Makes the individual the fundamental moral agent.
3. Natural selection favors human survival and flourishing.
4. From (3), human nature demands the survival and flourishing of the individual.
5. Anything that violates (4) is immoral.
6. FGM (or the prohibition against gay marriage, or other things) violates (4).
7. Therefore, (from 2, 5 and 6) FGM is morally wrong.