Friday, March 04, 2016

"The Social Construction of Sex": Some Central Confusions About "Social Construction" On Parade

Here's a handy rule of thumb:
   If someone uses the terms 'social construction,' 'socially constructed,' 'social construct,' etc. unironically, you should dramatically lower your expectations with respect to finding something interesting in what they say. If there's a bigger tangle of confusions in academia, I don't know of it. Well, 'relativism,' 'relative,' etc. are probably just as bad.
   Anyway, here's the offending piece. It really is a decent little introduction to why these discussions are such a disaster. Nominalism, misunderstandings about the nature of natural kinds, appealing to the terminological/conceptual trainwreck that is the contemporary quasi-academic discussion of "gender"...those are just for starters... Jeez, what a mess...  You'll note similar confusions in the attempts to browbeat everyone into accepting social constructionist theories about race, as I'm sure is obvious.
   Anyway, I'm trying to spend less time explaining why people on the internet are wrong...but I might not be able to resist this one at some point...


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