Public versus Private Reasoning

By Dr. Christina Sisti

Looking up the aisle of a church wedding with guests sitting in the chapel
Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash

The church is not a political power; it's not a party, but it's a moral power. Pope Benedict XVI

Legislation needs to reflect what is good for the nation not a section of the population. There is an expectation in a community that the elected leaders will represent the people who elected them not the legislator's personal beliefs. Morals must not interfere with or form legislation which would be punitive.
Legislators are in a position of power when they are in Congress. It is during work hours that they must employ private reasoning because personal views or beliefs must not influence legislation which affects society. Public reasoning is used when members of Congress are free of their work roles, off hours, and can express their beliefs.  
Recently, a case in Michigan highlighted the difference between public reason and private reason. Two decades ago the United States outlawed the practice of genital mutilation. A Shiite Muslim sect called the Dawoodi Bohra had been found to be practicing genital mutilation in Michigan despite the federal law banning the practice. Genital mutilation is another form of sexual assault against young girls. 

The practice of genital mutilation varies and can include narrowing the vaginal opening and sewing it virtually closed, removing the clitoris or labia, or cutting, piercing, burning or scraping the clitoral hood. 2 The young girls who were mutilated did not have a voice in the act of cutting nor did they have the ability to speak out as they grew older because of the secrecy surrounding the act.  

The distinction between private and public reasoning is important because the boundary between the two forms of reasoning are distinct. Those in positions of power whether they be members of Congress or the majority must not place an undue burden on other races, gender, or abilities. To do so breaches a trust which is implicit.


1 Kant, Immanuel (1784).  What is Enlightenment? Konigsberg, Prussia.

2 Belluck, Pam (2017, June 10). Michigan Case Adds U.S. Dimension to Debate on Genital Mutilation.  The New York Times,pp.21.

This article is extracted from the Research paper titled 'America's Public Policy on Sexuality: The Repression of Girls in Vulnerable Populations'  in Chapter 4 of the Safety Report by SAFIGI Outreach Foundation 'Safety First for Girls'.

The Safety Report by SAFIGI is a two-fold Open research on 'Core Issues Affecting Safety of Girls in the Developing World.' The first part of the Safety Report is a Research Paper. The second part is a detailed Data Analysis. 

The Safety Report Research paper is titled: 'Core Issues Affecting Safety of Girls in the Developing World.' The paper starts with an abstract before focusing on subjects in the key regions of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. A total of 7 Research papers make up the safety Report (sans the introduction and conclusion), including:

  1. The psychological effect of mass sexual harassment on girls in Egypt (P.24) by Heba Elasiouty.
  2. Safety concerns in relation to social media: Growing up female in an increasingly digital world (P.45) by Karin Temperley.
  3. Psychosocial challenges faced by parents raising children with physical disabilities in Oshana region (P.68) by Misumbi Shikaputo.
  4. Gender-based violence and subsequent safety challenges experienced by Rohingya women (P.119) by Shucheesmita Simonti.
  5. LGBT policies and overall safety in Brazil (P.141) by Alinne Lopes Gomes.
  6. Silent voices‘: Violence against the female body as consequence of machismo culture (P.177)  by Steffica Warwick.
  7. America‘s Public Policy on Sexuality: The Repression of Girls in Vulnerable Populations (P.208) by Dr. Christina Sisti.

SAFIGI Outreach Foundation Ltd, a volunteer-based and youth led NGO registered in Zambia, implemented the Safety Report in order to understand the multifaceted concept of safety and how it applies to the female gender in diverse settings. And therefore, further prove safety is intrinsic, and that vices in society stem from an intimate level of the human being before its manifestation. This way, when we create safety solutions, whether it be in a developing nation, conflict zone, refugee camp, or patriarchal society, the problem is resolved from a deeply rooted cause. Such that, we treat the disease itself and not mere symptoms.

This study is as a result of collaborative effort pursued in the spirit of volunteerism via UN Online Volunteers.


Contact Us


Email *

Message *

Popular Posts