Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Kaufman on Transgenderism, Self-Identification and Civil Rights

This is pretty good but not great.
It's wrong in a way and suboptimal in a way.
First, it falsely asserts that:
...unlike a person’s sex, one’s ethnic identity is obviously, demonstrably socially constructed, and race, (beyond the human) is an outright fiction constructed out of superficial differences in material appearances, like skin color or eye shape, so it’s hard to see how ethnically and racially grounded civil rights efforts will be able to resist the logic of self-madeness.
That simply isn't true. Race could turn out to be a fiction, but hasn't so far. By far the most well-supported position, so far as we currently know, is that races are natural kinds. Though, if it helps you face that fact: they're natural kinds of a rather unimportant variety. But people are so desperate for race to go away that they'll grasp at any straw to make it happen. And, of course, anyone who believes that races are biological will be accused of racism--no matter how equal he thinks they are. Because the subordination of facts to politics is the central characteristic of political correctness.
   Second, though I think Kaufman is right, notice that this argument makes a certain common mistake--it gets suckered into arguing against "identificationism" on moral/political grounds. It's not that that's an error in the narrow sense, but it's an error in the broad (or we might say: strategic) sense that it falls into reinforcing the leftist game by playing it. My own view is that it's important to reject that game and insist on winning the point by showing that the central tenets of the PC left's views are false--not that they have bad political consequences. To give in by making factual disagreements seem moral/political might help you win the battle, but it'll also help you lose the war.
   But, still, at least on one front, Kaufman advances the discussion.

[Oh and: third problem (and source of the first problem): the use of the term 'socially constructed.' The ambiguity and other kinds of unclarities and confusions surrounding that term are fatal or near-fatal to any discussion.]


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