Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Why Are There No Public / Academic Arguments For The Standard View of Transgenderism?

This, by Kathleen Stock, is pretty good.
It raises an issue that I've meant to discuss here for quite awhile...maybe I have discussed it. I'm not sure. It's certainly implicit in at least some stuff I've said. It's this:
   Why are there no public defenses of the standard, common-sense view of transgenderism?
   To explain the point as briefly as possible: the vast majority of people don't believe that (to use a well-known example) Caitlyn (nee Bruce) Jenner is a woman. At least a very large percentage of academicians don't believe that Jenner is a woman. A majority of philosophers don't believe that Jenner is a woman. And yet no one will say that in print or in public.

   Most everyone thinks (correctly--but that doesn't matter) that Jenner is a man who represents himself as a woman. That's the standard view. The common-sense view. It's a view that gets presumption because it, basically, needs no argument. It relies only on straightforward, uncontroversial biology and lexicography. Everyone with ordinary knowledge of human beings and the English language knows--or at least thinks--that Jenner isn't a woman.
   So: why does virtually no one--outside of a few explicitly conservative publications--defend this view publicly?
   And in particular: why do no philosophers defend the view? Most philosophers in the English-speaking world are roughly what's sometimes called "analytic" (in a broad sense) or "post-analytic." More to the point: most are realists. Most have deep and abiding philosophical commitments that should--very clearly--make them reject arguments of the kind that are used to support the progressive theory of transgenderism. If such arguments were being used in support of a right-wing view--especially a right-wing view with profound social consequences--these philosophers would be climbing all over each other to publicly and mercilessly ridicule the arguments. You would not be able to shut them up.
   But when it comes to arguments for the progressive theory of transgenderism...crickets.
   Not only will philosophers not rebut PTT--they won't even discuss criticisms of it. Remember: these are people who routinely discuss questions like Are we brains in vats?
   One could go on and on. But let me just repeat the question:
   Why is no one (or almost no one) willing to defend the view of transgenderism--the standard theory--that almost everyone believes?
   I think the answer is pretty obvious. It's also chilling. But it's so obvious that I don't even see much reason to say it: the progressive / politically correct / "social justice" left has "silenced" all opposition via mass social "shaming" and (false) accusations of prejudice. To publicly question a jot or tittle of PTT is to be accused of the moral equivalent of racism on a massive scale. Especially in philosophy--which ought to have a deep and inviolable commitment to standing up against such coercion. (See, e.g., the Tuvel / Hypatia affair; and remember: Tuvel was explicitly defending PTT.)
   One more thing: notice that Stock is questioning PTT in the only way that might possibly be deemed permissible by the left: from a feminist direction. She's not so much pointing out the PTT is false. And she's not pointing out that it's impermissible to coerce people into believing falsehoods. She's arguing that PTT might be bad for women / inconsistent with feminist ideals. The fact that the contemporary left will only permit criticism from the left is another topic for another time, and I don't want it to detract from the point at hand. Which, one more time is:
   Almost no one believes PTT; why won't anyone say so publicly? And in particular: it's extremely unlikely that many philosophers believe PTT; why won't any of them say so?
   And, again: the answer to both these questions is obvious.

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