Naturists Campaigning for Naturism

Is Naturism a philosophical belief?

Not sure if this is something that would’ve caught your eye.

Jordi Casamitjana is taking the League of Cruel Sports to an Employment Tribunal claiming that his dismissal by them was due to him being a vegan, which they deny. I won’t repeat all the details about the case here; you can go to the BBC News website for that. What Mr Casamitjana is saying, is that his brand of veganism, which he calls ethical veganism, is a matter of ‘belief and effects every single aspect of (his) life.’

The tribunal next March will have to decide, therefore, is veganism a philosophical belief and protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. If they say it is, it could mean others with equally deep rooted beliefs could seek similar protection.

Is naturism a philosophical belief though? For some it might be but how prevalent is it among naturists? We don’t know but we might get a clue from the Survey of UK Naturism. We have had a stunning start, with over 300 respondents already by last Monday (3rdDecember) and I was wondering if we could make it 500-plus by the end of the Month? There is still plenty of time for anyone who hasn’t already completed it, a nice 30-minute break from madcap Christmas preparations, perhaps. And don’t forget to remind your naturist family and friends to complete it too.

Many thanks.

Reg Barlow,
5th December 2018

20 Responses to Is Naturism a philosophical belief?

  • I have long maintained that naturism is an ethical lifestyle choice practised by a social minority group who face prejudice and discrimination for their way of life. In many respects this is similar to vegans who face similar problems. But it does not stop there. Both groups may face intimidation, ridicule and abuse for merely mentioning their beliefs. But the underlying problem here though is that naturists are far less willing to be proud or indeed enthusiastic about their naturism than vegans are of their veganism. Hence the joke “How do you know if someone is vegan? Don’t worry they will tell you”. However that is not quite true as many vegans (like naturists) keep quiet so as not to create waves. But it never ceases to amaze me when the subject of naturism crops up how many people break into a wry smile as if there is something ‘funny’ about it. But that’s the same with veganism too. Personally I do not see what is funny about the human body. Neither do I find anything funny about animal abuse and healthier eating. Maybe I just lack a sense of humour.

    • And both were called “Cranks” in years past. I make no comment on the ET’s outcome, but if they do accept veganism as a philosophical belief then there is a small chance that naturism could be considered in the same light. Only, do naturists see naturism that way and if they do, how many? The UK Naturism Survey starts to find that out.

  • I too hope there is a big response to the survey, to get some quantification on the views expressed. It seems to me that the term Naturism is interpreted in a lot of quite different ways by different people. At one end of the spectrum there are those who like to live naked whenever practical and extend their view into an affinity with nature, healthy living and so on. At the other end there are those who view naturism as merely stripping off as an occasional hobby, often kept as a ‘guilty’ secret, and which doesn’t affect other aspects of their lives at all.
    The current survey is important, but it is only the first of others which will look at more specific aspects of naturism and naturist practice. For that we’d also like to know who is happy to complete surveys, so it is doubly important to complete the current survey, even if it doesn’t give you all the opportunity you’d like currently to express your view exactly.

  • Yes, I do believe that for many, Naturism is a philosophical belief. Likewise, for many (myself included) it is a life-style choice, and no more.

  • Firstly I see JC`s case to be but a public alert for and on behalf of that League and so likely unsupported by the ET in it`s findings and who might wonder quite what Unethical Veganism could ever be..
    Naturism too, as commented upon already, has many facets and one of which makes it impossible for its devout supporter to proceed beyond Part 1 of the Survey.
    From truly philosophical angle though, (that borne of those deep thinkers of the distant past), I think they would more recognise the necessary part that clothing must play in their onward creation of the fundamentally momogamous Civilisation we continue to perpetuate (if only just) from using the under-pinning of idealistic Gods and Icons of stone, with whom few could ever compete, to satisfy their wider appetites and help create stability.
    But though we`ve moved the goal-posts and re-created those Gods in the flesh the principle remains.
    And so we (are supposed to) gaze upon them on silk and glass screens instead of in the stars and on pedestals to get our extra fix.
    However, even that ain`t good enough for some and if you can`t roll with it then `Against` is the only way forward, so to speak.
    So, no to the past, it has had its day, our knowledge, if not nous sadly, far exceeds that of those Ancients and a new Commandment needs pinning to the walls. Or needed, should I more correctly say, as its writings are about as good as they can ever get.
    All that is lacking are the wo`men to man it significantly where it might matter while you chaps issue Fig Leafs to Private Back Garden Gnomes and Gin Palace/Pool Poseurs.(one might say).
    The tide`ll turn on you before you get your intellectual tootsies wet.(You ain`t careful).
    Perhaps work instead on what The World seriously needs to do to get the Climate Issue on
    `Dead Ahead Barings`
    (we ain`t very careful.)
    Yrs
    db

  • Well I certainly hope they decide that certain life choices are philological beliefs as it will help me in my bid to get local councils to drop their ‘Swimwear mandatory’ policies in public leisure centre saunas. My local council and I’m sure many others, have a Diversity/Equality approach, strategy and policy. I could use this to great effect!
    I am aiming to get them to replace the signs, which state that “swimwear ‘MUST’ be worn at ‘ALL’ times in the sauna/steam room area” with, “In the interests of hygiene, it is requested that towels be placed on the benches to sit on” (or words to that effect)
    Keep us posted with the results!

    • I will try.

  • A small minority may practice naturism for philosophical reasons, but it’s a bad notion to emphasise. If we want more people to accept and hopefully join us then best say “you don’t have to believe in anything, you just have to enjoy it – give it a try and you probably will!”.

    Certainly, naturists can face irrational prejudice and anger. Rather than as a philosophy, naturism is better described as a benign sub-culture and can perhaps claim some protection on that basis; see: http://www.bedfordshire.police.uk/information-and-services/Crime/Hate-crime-and-hate-incidents/Alternative-subculture

    • Is it a small minority? Why is it a bad notion to have philosophical reasoning behind the practice of naturism? If naturism is to be considered a sub-culture instead, don’t we still need to understand what beliefs are held by naturists in common?

  • Sorry if I wasn’t clear. I don’t mean it’s bad [for] an individual to have whatever philosophy they like – they are free to. Just that words like ‘philosophical’ and ‘beliefs’ make naturism sound something like a religion and that’s an ineffective way to encourage people to join us.

    • Fair point. But humanism is a philosophical belief and it is not a religion.

  • The question offered for discussion: Is Naturism a philosophical belief?
    I have a philosophical belief in Free Body Culture (FBC); I am a Naturist. My lifestyle reflects this and I have studied philosophical and scientific works on the subject. I believe that I have a good understanding of the principals of FBC based inter alia on the internationally accepted definition – “Naturism is a way of life in harmony with nature characterised by the practice of communal nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and for the environment.” I have defended my belief in public on many occasions including on national television and protested for the ‘right to be naked’ regularly. I have been discriminated against and abused because of these beliefs on many occasions.
    Philosophy is a theory or attitude of guiding principles of behaviour or thought that can be evidenced by personal testimony reasoned argument or objective facts.
    A belief is not an opinion or a point of view, it is a subjective conviction peculiar to an individual, as to the truth of a proposition. Belief can be based on almost anything not limited to intention, faith, facts, evidence, or reasoning. A belief may require objective evidence; when either, explaining that belief to others, or defending it.
    “What do you believe?” and “Why do you believe?” are two different but interacting questions.
    In many cases people will fail miserably in justifying their beliefs. (See https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLh10RgQgGuM-tnT7fKwgF4Dt57oh_yL5r) or commit actions or make lifestyle choices that are in clear contradiction of those beliefs.
    The case referenced in this post, is an Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), addressing the question of ‘veganism’ as a philosophical belief. How useful any ruling of such is, outside of EAT or in application to other philosophical beliefs; I am not sure.
    The definitive EAT case on ‘philosophical belief’ is; Grainger plc and others v Nicholson [2010] IRLR. In which it was held, ‘an employee’s asserted belief that mankind is heading towards catastrophic climate change and we are under a moral duty to act to mitigate or avoid this,’ is capable of being a philosophical belief for the purposes of the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/1660).
    Briefly Nicholson claimed that he was made redundant because he held a ‘philosophical belief’ in climate change, and as a result was discriminated against. He showed that he had sound reasons for that belief and adopted a particular lifestyle as a result of that belief.
    The Court in reaching this decision held, that such a philosophical belief must:
    o be genuinely held;
    o be a belief and not an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information available;
    o be a belief as to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour;
    o attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance; and
    o be worthy of respect in a democratic society and not incompatible with human dignity and or conflict with the fundamental rights of others.
    The belief does not have to govern the entirety of a person’s life. While the support of a political party might not meet the description of a philosophical belief, a belief in a political philosophy or doctrine would not necessarily be disqualified. A philosophical belief that is based on science, as opposed to religion, should also not be disqualified from consideration.
    The EAT noted that the employment tribunal would have to hear evidence and cross-examination about the genuineness of the belief, especially if it is unusual in nature.
    A genuine belief in free body culture as a philosophy is a personal matter. In order to show that you have good reason to believe, it is a philosophy and that your lifestyle reflects that belief requires more objective evidence.
    The question posed in this post, was solely framed in the context of EAT, and ‘veganism’ but the points to consider in the Nicholson case are surprisingly helpful in providing guidance for objective answers concerning a ‘philosophical belief’ the holding of which can subject the holder to unlawful discrimination, in a wider context. The Nicholson case is also used as an example on the E&HRC website (https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance/religion-or-belief-discrimination#belief ).
    A better question for the O.P. to ask would be; “Do you have a philosophical belief in free body culture/naturism/nudism?” The answer to that question is a very personal matter and it cannot be rebutted by someone else simply by saying; I do not believe that it is. In fact any other person’s opinion is irrelevant to that specific claim. However if you hold that belief you may have to be prepared to objectively show why. It certainly behoves you to have a good understanding of the subject of your belief and to be able to show how you live your life according to it.
    People seem to think that if we prove somehow that free body culture/naturism/nudism is a philosophical belief per se, then all that would be required is to shout out: “I am a Naturist and I am being discriminated against”.
    Mike Clarke
    President Singles Outdoor Club

    • Thanks for that Mike. We shall see what happens next year.

  • Is Naturism a philosophical belief?

    In the Government guide to ‘religion’ and ‘belief’ discrimination, as part of the Equality Act 2010, it is stated that ‘Humanism’ is a Philosophical belief and is protected.

    Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism [1] and empiricism [2] ) over acceptance of dogma [3] or superstition.

    [1] Rationalism – Definition
    The practice or principle of basing opinions and actions on reason and knowledge rather than on religious belief or emotional response.

    [2] Empiricism
    In philosophy, empiricism is a theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience. It is one of several views of epistemology, [4] the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism and skepticism. Empiricism emphasises the role of empirical evidence in the formation of ideas, over the idea of innate ideas or traditions.

    [3] Dogma – Definition
    1a : something held as an established opinion
    especially : a definite authoritative tenet
    b : a code of such tenets
    pedagogical dogma
    c : a point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds
    2 : a doctrine or body of doctrines concerning faith or morals formally stated and authoritatively proclaimed by a church

    [4] Epistemology – Definition
    noun
    Philosophy:
    The theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope, and the distinction between justified belief and opinion.

    All of the above relates to the practice of Naturism.

    • It does, but is naturism a humanist philosophy? Don’t forget there are plenty of people of faith (re: Christian Naturist Fellowship) who are naturists too. Let’s keep an eye on the Employment Tribunal and see what happens.

  • The problem I have with considering Naturism as a ‘philosophy’, is in finding anything like widespread agreement as to what that philosophy is. Within the great range of opinions, it seems to me that the only thing they all have in common is a general approval of being naked in some rather undefined way. This doesn’t feel to me like a coherent philosophy in the usually accepted sense.
    That is not to say Naturism isn’t completely valid to those who espouse it, but I suspect that trying to codify it would do more harm than good. People love to argue!

  • My point is that, if ‘Humanism’ is a philosophical belief accepted by government and has many of the same ‘arguments’, eg: the ‘dogmatic approach’ by society and some authorities towards naturists, which actually extends to the misconception by many that children can be harmed by the right of a naked person (unjustified, handed down beliefs), then surely naturists should have the same governmental support of equality.

    • Personally, I think you’re conflating two different issues: (1) naturism as a philosophical belief, for which we have no hard evidence because no one has done the research work necessary, and; (2) the misconception that children are harmed by the sight of a naked person, for which we have some evidence but not conclusively so.

      Nor can we assume the ET will decided in favour of an extreme vegan. It could, of course go up to the supreme court, and as we haven’t left the EU yet, potentially up to the European Court for Human Rights. So let’s just see. Maybe look into naturism being a philosophical belief in the meantime, so if the tribunal or any subsequent court case does go our way, we can make a compelling case for inclusion. Until then, naturists are going to be lumped in with swingers – as The Sun did today – or written off as just cranks who like getting their kit off at the first sign of the sun. Naturism is neither of those, but it needs to be proven.

  • Yes, I probably was going on a bit of a tangent, which seemed relevant at the time, which I apologise. The humanist connection though, I still feel is there for some, not for the religious side of things but for the belief in rationalism and opposition to dogma, which is pretty much what us naturists have been wanting all these years.

    Humanism obviously covers lots of aspects, but those I listed in my post, caught my eye after reading the governments equality guide and its accepted protected minority groups.

  • No, Reg no, upon further reflection, “Naturism” can’t be both a Philosophy and a Practice. “Naturism” in my book is a publicly noticeable form of recreation whereas, if you are a shrinking indoor or back-garden violet or clubby type, you’re likely be identified as something else you might not like.

    The nuances we each may wish to weave into the action are surely for us alone to reconcile with public opinion or The Prosecutor. We don’t need to be naked to offend anyone and so Naturism must mean unabashed but simple nudity for the pleasure of it alone when it is often anything but plain sailing at the best of times.

    Not that I have been able to do much of my natural style of things (yet) this year for other reasons but I have found it generally acceptable enough to keep the dogged dissenters more on the dumb side than they used to be.

    Even the formal town beach seems not out of bounds if you might like to be more widely noticed or even perform a leisurely full-on Skinny (as the gradient of the beach means you have to walk in for some 100 metres before getting lapped by the waves.

    All it lacks, whether there or out on the fringes, is ‘like company’ even though it does occasionally generate close interpretations. (But who’s complaining?) So stop playing `mind games` and get on down eh…!
    db

    [apologise for delay in approving comment – RB]

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