Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dolezal, Jenner, Dishonesty and Thought-Experiments In Philosophy

   The dishonesty issue is gumming up the works with respect to the public discussion of the Dolezal and Jenner cases. Not to go all ad hominem or anything, but in at least a lot of cases, those who want to push the conclusion that the two cases are utterly dissimilar often focus on Dolezal's dishonesty. For purposes of comparing the cases and leveraging each to work toward a more consistent overall view of things, however, we ought to ignore the dishonesty bit. It's just not relevant. It's better to think about a case of "transracialism" that's exactly parallel to the Jenner case.
   Incidentally, many people get frustrated with the philosopher's focus on imaginary cases, especially outlandish science fiction cases. But we tend to focus on such cases precisely in order to highlight what's relevant and push what's irrelevant into the background. In the cases in question, we'd really want to think about--here insert some lame philosophy way of indicated that we're sort of thinking about Dolezal, but not really--Schmolezal...Dolezal Prime...whatever. Then we just stipulate that this person is analogous to Jenner--they are up-front about the whole matter, announcing that they'll be changing races, or whatever. In this case, it'd probably be better to change the Jenner case to make it more typical--a person identifies with the other sex, then starts "passing" and so forth.
   At any rate: to focus on Dolezal's dishonesty is an error. It is to miss the whole point. Even if that gambit worked, it would only work for a couple of weeks until we'd found a different, similar person who hadn't been dishonest.


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