Academic Philosophy

Burn the Heretic!



Rebecca Tuvel, an untenured assistant professor at Rhodes College, recently published “In Defense of Transracialism,” at Hypatia, a feminist journal. In that article, she argues we have more or less the same reasons to accept transracial identities as we do to accept transgender identities; the arguments on behalf of accepting the latter apply roughly equally as well to accepting the former.

Fair enough, right? Seems like a rather common style of argument you see in many philosophy papers. Maybe in this case it’s a good argument. Maybe it’s not. But it passed peer-review and was published in what is arguably the leading feminist philosophy journal. You’d expect that if a scholar disagrees with it, that scholar would just write a critical article.

Nope. You see, certain subfields are politicized, and the people within them no longer behave like academics or scholars. They are hell-bent on getting philosophy to go the way of the humanities in the 1980s. Many of these people are activists first, scholars second.

150 or so people, including a number of senior scholars, got together and signed a petition denouncing the article. They demand it be retracted, claim that the article “causes…harm” (no evidence given, of course), and demand that Hypatia revise its editorial practices so that this kind of thing doesn’t get published again.  Their complaints:


While it is not the aim of this letter to provide an exhaustive list of problems that this article exhibits or to provide a critical response, we would like to note a few points that are indicative of the larger issues. We believe that this article falls short of scholarly standards in various areas:

1. It uses vocabulary and frameworks not recognized, accepted, or adopted by the conventions of the relevant subfields; for example, the author uses the language of “transgenderism” and engages in deadnaming a trans woman;

2. It mischaracterizes various theories and practices relating to religious identity and conversion; for example, the author gives an off-hand example about conversion to Judaism;

3. It misrepresents leading accounts of belonging to a racial group; for example, the author incorrectly cites Charles Mills as a defender of voluntary racial identification;

4. It fails to seek out and sufficiently engage with scholarly work by those who are most vulnerable to the intersection of racial and gender oppressions (women of color) in its discussion of “transracialism”. We endorse Hypatia’s stated commitment to “actively reflect and engage the diversity within feminism, the diverse experiences and situations of women, and the diverse forms that gender takes around the globe,” and we find that this submission was published without being held to that commitment.

Many published articles include some minor defects of scholarship; however, together the problems with this article are glaring. More importantly, these failures of scholarship do harm to the communities who might expect better from Hypatia. It is difficult to imagine that this article could have been endorsed by referees working in critical race theory and trans theory, which are the two areas of specialization that should have been most relevant to the review process. A message has been sent, to authors and readers alike, that white cis scholars may engage in speculative discussion of these themes without broad and sustained engagement with those theorists whose lives are most directly affected by transphobia and racism.

Even if all these charges were true (no evidence is given that the article caused harm), they would be, well, underwhelming. Usually papers get retracted for things like plagiarism or falsifying data, not for failing to write in the preferred style of or failing to cite the preferred authors among some heterodox ideological and methodological minority. Discussion at Daily Nous reveals that many of the criticisms are unfair, or at least plausibly rejected.

Personally, I’d say that failing to fully engage critical theory is a feature, not a bug, of the paper. After all, questions of race and gender identity are important and serious questions, while “critical” (sic) theory is predominantly low quality, politicized, morally and intellectually unserious pseudo-scholarship. If anything, there is a moral obligation to approach these topics with the tools of standard philosophy and the social sciences, that is, with rigor and intellectual openness, with data and evidence, and with a commitment to seeking the truth no matter where it lies and no matter how unpleasant it turns out to be. But even if I were wrong about that (of course I’m not), obviously there are a plurality of ways of doing philosophy, and there isn’t an obligation to work within some heterodox and fringe framework that hardly anyone in philosophy pays attention to.

The associate editors at Hypatia responded badly. They apologized for publishing the paper, claimed that the article is harmful, and declared that obviously the paper should not have been published. 

As Brian Leiter points out, it looks like Tuvel has a defamation case.

Leiter on how unusual this behavior is:

I confess I’ve never seen anything like this in academic philosophy (admittedly most signatories to the “open letter” are not academic philosophers, but some are).  A tenure-track assistant professor submits her article to a journal, it passes peer review, it is published, others take offense, and the Associate Editors of the journal declare that “Clearly, the article should not have been published” and that the abuse to which the author is being subjected is “both predictable and justifiable.”    Even the Synthese fiasco in 2011 did not involve behavior this egregious by the editors (and all the editors there stepped down not long after that fiasco).

….I would encourage someone to set up a petition to denounce the outrageous treatment of Prof. Tuvel by the Hypatia editors.

To the signatories of the letter, and to the associate editors of Hypatia who wrote the piece quoted above: This is unacceptable, unprofessional behavior. This is not how scholars treat one another. You need to apologize to Tuvel and retract your abusive statement immediately.

I’ll end by quoting my colleague Thomas Mulligan, who says it better than I can:

I hope that senior members of our profession come to Prof. Tuvel’s defense. It is to our disgrace that we have tolerated behavior like this from the fringe, feminist left for so long–the bullying, the intellectual emptiness, the self-indulgence. Surely, if we know anything about rational inquiry, we know that it is wrong to assess work on the basis of facts about the author’s race or gender.

Whatever our reasons for toleration have been, they are no longer viable. Our universities and our profession are under attack by those who claim that we simply produce left-wing cant. This open letter and the statement of Hypatia’s Associate Editors only bolsters their case. Important public policies, like the fight against climate change, are being ignored because we have as a culture lost respect for objective truth and rigorous inquiry. And we have a new–and in my view dangerous–President, elected in large part because hard-working, honest people were tired of being berated by the privileged, the whiny, and the non-contributing.

Most of us have known for a long time that this emperor has no clothes. Even if we haven’t always aired the view, we’ve known it. It’s time for us, as a profession, to do something about it.

Final note: Many people in this camp tend to dismiss others’ points of view, saying things like, “Oh, you just think that because you’re white.” Well, there’s a way to test that thesis scientifically. I describe the best method for doing so here. You’ll notice, if you bother to read the crit theory literature, that they usually just assert it without evidence.


UPDATE: By the way, despite the point I made in the last paragraph, I expect the main reaction from the angry crowd who wrote this petition will be something like, “How dare this racist, cishet, cisgen white male offer an opinion?” I don’t blame them for this, since it’s their only tactic to “win”. After all, they won’t win a reasoned debate.

  • Paul Graham Raven

    “You see, certain subfields are politicized, and the people within them no longer behave like academics or scholars.”

    Wait for it, wait for it…

    “… while “critical” (sic) theory is predominantly low quality, politicized, morally and intellectual unserious pseudo-scholarship.”

    … aaaaaand there it is. Partisanship is bad, except when it’s your party.

    • Jason Brennan

      So, you think it’s a good counterargument to conflate A) having standards of rigor like they do in, say, economics with B) the overtly political and activist agenda of crit theory? And I’m supposed to feel bad about that? Laughable.

      • Paul Graham Raven

        Don’t expect you to feel bad about it; you’re too much the showman for that, I suspect. Just pointing out the plank in your own eye, like.

        • a6z

          What you think you are pointing to isn’t a plank, and it isn’t where you think it is.

      • Kurt H

        People make the same argument about economics, though — that it’s rigorousness is a sham that masks a “justifying ideology” for capitalism. I don’t agree with that assessment, but it makes me suspicious whenever someone condemns an entire field out-of-hand.

        To continue the analogy, there are political positions that would put someone outside the mainstream of economics (being against free trade, for example). Thus, it is not true to say that economics lacks a political agenda.

        • No, wait. We can’t do that. We can’t say, “There exist wrong criticisms that economics is political claptrap, ergo we must not accuse other disciplines of being political claptrap.” That’s like saying you can’t call David Duke a racist since, after all, someone else might call *you* a racist. That’s not how we should be addressing accusations. The mere existence of a perspective does not alone validate that perspective. This is the whole problem with the people who wrote that letter.

          • Kurt H

            I said was that I am suspicious whenever someone outside a discipline condemns that discipline as nonsense, not that we should never do so. Cool your jets.

          • Jason Brennan

            We have a professional responsibility to condemn and weed out critical theory from the academy.

          • Sean II

            Couldn’t you also cull it from the culture at large? I mean, if you’ve already got the gardening gloves on and whatnot…

          • Curious

            Wow – that’s a strong statement. How broadly do you construe “critical theory?” I have transgender friends who found reading (for example) Judith Butler very helpful in thinking through their gender identity. Is the suggestion that her and people like her should be fired, and academics have a professional responsibility to advocate in that direction (epistemic humility be damned)? If that’s the case, are there particular people you have in mind?

          • TracyW

            I once accidentally learnt a lot about test design from engaging with a guy online about whom I eventually came to the working hypothesis that he was in the early stages of dementia. (He posted a link to an archive of his papers, the older ones were fairly workman like technical papers, the newer ones showed a distinct inability to maintain a coherent argument over more than three paragraphs.)

            One can learn a lot from bad arguments. That doesn’t mean the arguers should get status.

          • Curious

            As I said elsewhere, I think that epistemic humility is enough by itself to say that we don’t have a professional obligation to purge these individuals from academia. As you may have noticed, people disagree about who the methodologically sound philosophers are. That isn’t to say there’s not a fact of the matter – there is – but this I think is a good reason to practice humility.

          • Sean II

            “I have transgender friends who found reading (for example) Judith Butler very helpful in thinking through their gender identity.”

            What people find helpful and what actually is helpful, not the same thing.

          • Some people seem to find astrology helpful; but that does not mean that it has a place in the Academy. That holds even if astrology IS helpful to those people. Even the great Isaac Newton (he was a scientist, in case there are any Critical Theorists reading this), found astrology helpful: he incorporated the astrological theory that the moon influences the tides into his own theory. True, he used gravity rather than astrological influences, but at the time (late seventeenth century) gravity, i.e., universal attraction at a distance, even over immense distances of empty space, was regarded by scientists as an ‘occult force’ and Newton was ridiculed for it. What differentiated Newton’s ‘occult’ theory from the occult theories of the astrologists was that Newton’s theory was falsifiable and survived tests aimed at falsifying it. Astrological theories are, infamously, not like that. Critical Theory belongs with astrology – and not in the Academy.

          • Curious

            So that’s a yes – you believe that they should be fired and that it’s our duty to advocate for that. Care to name names? I think this position – the substantive one in the comment, or so I thought – is transparently absurd to virtually everyone.

          • My animadversions concerned a style of activity rather than specific individuals. Just as universties do not (and should not) have departments doing astrology, they should not have departments doing Critical Theory. The Critical Theorists are entitled to set up their own institutions and market their non-educational services, and doubtless some people would buy them (many astologers make a good living). But such institutions should not be recognised as universites and they should not get state funding.

            Note that I am not prohibiting the discussion of any particular theory at universities. Insofar as Critical Theorists have theories, the critical dissection of those theories is something that might take place at a genuine university. Recall the example of Newton. He shared with the astrologers the theory that the heavenly bodies have non-mechanical influences on happenings on earth; but unlike the astrologers he spelled out a law of such influences (the inverse-square law) and he combined that with laws of mechanical motion to produce a theory which had numerous implications, some of them startling, which could be tested empirically (and which survived testing). The difference between Newton and the astrologers was that he took criticism seriously: he took part of astrological lore and turned it into scientific law by looking for counterexamples and then explaining away apparent counterexamples by additions to theory that had surprising empirical consequences that survived testing. The problem with the Critical Theorists is not only that they do not take seriously criticisms of their views but that they don’t even listen to them and, worse, they even try to prevent such criticisms from being expressed.

            I don’t think we have a duty to advocate kicking the Critical Theorists out of academe. But it depends who ‘we’ are. Most people take little notice of what goes on in academe; it would be silly to say that they have such a duty.

          • Sean II

            “The Critical Theorists are entitled to set up their own institutions and market their non-educational services, and doubtless some people would buy them (many astrologers make a good living)”

            I’m trying to imagine a Critical Theory equivalent of Darren Brown, helping little old ladies understand how their base has shaped their superstructure.

            The program could be called “That’s Mental!”

          • Curious

            Ah okay, then. I took the substantive part of my comment to be directed toward Dr. Brennan, who said we (philosophers) should “weed out critical theory from the academy,” from which it isn’t a stretch to wonder whether he’s suggesting we advocate the firing of a bunch of professors. At least, in the mouth of, say, a Marxist, none of us would hesitate to give it that interpretation.

            As to the other stuff, I would say that 1) there are substantive theories in critical theory to the extent that any substantive theories exist in philosophy (e.g., Butler’s gender performativism)
            2) I’ve been in classes and read papers and books where critical theorists address criticisms
            3) Philosophy isn’t science and almost always doesn’t have mathematically specified deterministic laws, so if that’s the criticism it would apply much more broadly
            4) Every theory has core hypotheses and auxiliary hypotheses and progresses in a self-serving way (a la Lakatos). This is a facet of all inquiry, not critical theory, and I don’t perceive the willingness to hold on to theories at the expense of evidence as worse in the discipline than, say, in psychology or economics. (That’s not to say individual scholars aren’t worse)
            5) Even if I’m wrong about 1-4, critical theory still plays an important role in the context of discovery for psychology, sociology, political science, etc., which it wouldn’t play if practiced outside the academy

            Don’t misunderstand, I’m not a critical theorist myself. But to me the position that it’s akin to astrology seems very far from correct. Your comparison to astrology also makes me wonder whether you’re a Popperian. As you can probably tell, I am not.

          • I’ll take your word for (1) and (2). But addressing criticisms is not really enough. It raises two questions. How adequately were the criticisms addressed (argument and evidence or denunciation and sneers)? Were the most challenging criticisms addressed or only those that the Critical Theorist had an easy answer for?

            On (3), scientific laws are not usually deterministic nowadays. But after I posted my last message I realised that I should have spoken about criticism in general, not just empirical testing, which is just one kind of criticism and, though very important, is a bit of a rarity in advanced sciences, in which complex theories are often evaluated with respect to their problem-solving ability or scope.

            I reject what you say in (4). Lakatos was a Hegelian windbag who bastardised Popper’s theories to produce an ad hoc mish-mash. He proposed testing his ‘methodology’ by comparing it with the growth of scientific knowledge; but he first reinterpreted scientific history in terms of his methodology to ensure consistency. He actually said that his ‘history’ should be taken with ‘tons of salt.’ But, in Hegelian style, he held that ‘the real is the rational,’ and as his methodology defined (for him) what was rational, the ‘real’ history was his ‘rational reconstruction,’ not the actual history. He would have been at home with the Critical Theorists.

            There are two ways of holding on to a theory that is at variance with evidence. The first is to explain the evidence away in some ad hoc fashion or simply ignore it. The second is to explain away the evidence by making an amendment to theory that generates new predictions that survive testing or solves problems additional to the problem(s) it was designed to solve. Only the second way is intellectually respectable. Popper made this point in his ‘Logic of Scientific Discovery,’ sections 19-20.

            (5) seems to be confused. What should be displaced from the Academy is closed-minded, ad hoc theorising that does not seek criticism and respond to it in intellectually respectable ways. That sort of practice is inimical to discovery, especially when it degenerates into silencing opposing viewpoints. Propositions enounced by Critical Theorists may well lead to discovery if they are analysed and criticised. But that remains so even if the Critical Theorists are to be found only outside of the Academy. Recall the example of Newton: astrologers have no place in the Academy; but astrological theories appear to have inspired Newton’s theory of gravity.

            I have probably said enough to confirm your suspicion that I have been influenced by Popper.

          • Curious

            I would think epistemic humility would be enough to not advocate their being purged from academia, which Dr. Brennan believes we have a professional obligation to pursue.

          • Sean II

            He’s not advocating a purge. Just an end to critical theory’s long standing exemption from academic standards.

          • Curious

            I think that’s an overly generous reading of “weed out critical theory from the academy” but fair enough.

          • Curious

            I took the substantive part of my comment to be the question as to whether we should fire professors who study critical theory, and whether Dr. Brennan was advocating for this position. I would say no, that’s pretty obviously absurd, and the sentence you quoted was meant as a nod towards evidence for that.

            So the intended argument wasn’t:
            i) People find x helpful
            ii) Therefore x is helpful

            But rather was:
            i) People find x helpful

            ii) x is written by scholars (a scholar) in critical theory
            iii) We should practice epistemic humility
            iv) If we should practice epistemic humility, then we should not fire professors who produce work that others find helpful.
            v) Therefore we should not fire (at least some) professors in critical theory.

            Hope that clarifies. I would also hold the position that Butler’s work is legitimately helpful, but that would require a discussion of the psychology and philosophy literature, AKA something not related to the article or Dr. Brennan’s argument.

          • I don’t think it is absurd to fire professors who study critical theory. It all depends upon how they study it. If they study it critically (whether or not they call themselves ‘Critical Theorists’), there need be no objection to what they are doing. But if they adhere uncritically to a set of theories, denounce theories (and their proponents) that do not tally with them, and seek to prevent contrary views from being taught or published, then they should be booted out, because they are undermining the very purpose of an academic institution.

            I reject (iv) for the reasons given in my previous post.

          • Kurt H

            I’m sure there are people who think libertarian philosophers like yourself should be weeded out of the academy too, using much the same argument — that your work is a political agenda disguised as rational inquiry.

          • Lacunaria

            And you are welcome to make that case, but (retroactively) preventing publication in journals would seem to argue against your analogy.

          • Frank Furt

            Negotiator here. The Critical Theory Politburo said that they will drop 80% of their academic staff and programming worldwide if you will do the same in Evo Psych.

          • Lacunaria

            You expect people to devote their lives to a discipline that they believe is nonsense just so that you will believe them when they say it is nonsense?

            Surely that can’t be right.

            If you want to argue that Brennan isn’t familiar enough with the discipline to draw his conclusions, then call him on his pertinent ignorance.

          • Jason Brennan

            And nailed it.

        • Greg Dempster

          There are plenty of economists who hold views outside the “mainstream” of our discipline. In economics, we address these views by using the tools of economics (theory and evidence) assess their validity. Someone who can’t see the difference between that and assessing views *because* of their political implications is either (a) not trying very hard or (b) not very bright.

          Economics lacks a political agenda for the very reason that you *can* make arguments for and against things like free trade using the standard tools of the discipline (supply and demand, marginal benefit and cost, etc.). Critical theory is politicized for precisely the opposite reason– since the judgment of a contribution is based almost solely on its political implications, it lacks any real “discipline” to distinguish between competing theories, and you are left with problems like the one referred to here, where so-called scholars resort to assertions of “hurt” and “damage” and “violence” rather than addressing the actual arguments being made.

          Not all modes of inquiry are equally valid. It is not partisanship that distinguishes between more and less valuable modes, but reason.

          • King Goat

            “we address these views by using the tools of economics (theory and evidence) assess their validity”

            Do Marxist economists, Austrian economists and Chicago school economists use the same ideas of what’s theory and evidence to assess the validity of claims?

          • Kurt H

            They most certainly do not. The Austrians, in particular, reject induction because they are pseodoscientific bullshit peddlers (I say this as someone who used to like their stuff). The average Marxist critique isn’t much better.

            The real problem with Greg’s argument is that while you *can* make an argument for protectionism in economics, you would have to take the normative position that the firms within your particular country are more important than those in other countries, and also more important than consumers everywhere. But since that is lunacy, an economist will get to a political position real quick.

            Is critical theory *more* political than economics? Sure, but there is no such thing as a field of study with no political implications.

          • Lacunaria

            Politics is only a problem insofar as it is used to establish unchallenged premises. It’s not as though simply having political implications is the indictment here.

            The indictment is fundamentally about the standards of rational inquiry (regardless of political implications).

          • Michael Philip

            that’s because induction is a fallacy. rejecting it isn’t pseodoscientific nonsense but continuing to act like it is not is

          • Adam Bowers

            “Sure, but there is no such thing as a field of study with no political implications.”

            How about mathematics?

          • Kurt H

            There are absolutely political implications from mathematics — Game Theory is rife with political implications. More to the point, any knowledge of reality will refine our notion of what is best, and thus political implications will follow.

          • Adam Bowers

            That would be applied mathematics. The pure study of mathematics is apolitical, but I take your point.

        • Theresa Klein

          it’s rigorousness is a sham that masks a “justifying ideology” for capitalism

          It’s amusing how, in this argument, intellectual rigor is supposed to count *against* economics, instead of in favor of it. Would economics be better with less rigor? Maybe science would be better with less rigor too. After all isn’t “science” a sham that masks a justifying ideology for a rational materialist perspective on the world?

          • Kurt H

            I never said those were *good* arguments against economics. However, there are plenty of people within the profession who critique how math is used, and who fight over methodology. There certainly are some economists that are just playing games with numbers. But, yeah, the claim that rigor *in general* is a problem is stupid.

        • TracyW

          That’s not quite the same assertion though, is it? Saying “it’s not rigourous” is a claim that can be disproved (or at least rebutted) by showing evidence of rigour.

          Saying that “its rigorousness is a sham that masks a ‘justifying ideology for ….” would require quite a different rebuttal. After all, it concedes that there is the appearance of rigorousness.

          The first is an assertion about open facts. Complex facts, but basically open facts. The second is much closer to a conspiracy theory, where lack of evidence has a tendency to be interpreted by the conspiracy theory advocates as yet more evidence.

  • Tom Kelly

    Excellent post! Thanks for writing it. Tom Kelly

  • David Jacobs

    The Hypatia incident seems to reveal symptoms of PTSD. There are many people who are very fearful right now, worrying that an era of authoritarianism is beginning. They are not convinced that advances in LBTGQ rights are secure under the Trump administration and right-wing Christian governments in the states. As a result, scholars who are probably aligned on most issues are turning on one another.

    I agree with you that the better response to an article with which one disagrees is to publish a rejoinder, ideally in the same journal. I don’t agree that this particular incident betrays fundamental characteristics of “critical theory,” particularly a disregard for evidence. In any tradition one will find outliers who push an argument to extremes.

    • Theresa Klein

      Well, Hypatia did actually publish a statement condemnign the article and saying it should not have been published. So the outliers got their way. If indeed they are outliers.

  • Duvel is a Belgian beer. Very nice, too. The author is Tuvel.

    • Jason Brennan

      Thanks, fixed.

    • Sean II

      Now that’s Pale Privilege.

  • rigaud

    The world is on fire -Trump is getting a world war ready -Britons are Xhitting on themselves, France is toying with electing a Neo Nazi and all the Us can worry about is an obscure sexual minority and the total nonsense of critical theory. . Poor world.

  • Sean II

    Oberlin, leading the way then as now, went coed in 1833.

    185 years later, “I hate how you make me feel!” is a winning argument in academia.

    Clearly the old chauvinists were wrong. They said this would happen immediately.

    • King Goat

      Yeah, including women ruins so many things, from fantasy football leagues to academe, which they’ve certainly ruined by introducing emotionalist thought. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ m going to go read something from that pre-women period untainted by such emotionalism in academe, maybe Emerson’s Nature.

      • Number of polio vaccines developed before the Korean War = 0.
        Number of polio vaccines developed during the Korean War = 2.

        Sean can correct me if I’m wrong, but I took his point to be that, when feminists engage in this kind of behavior, they unwittingly affirm the ugliest accusations of male chauvinists; and since proving chauvinists right is a bad thing, so, too, must that behavior be bad.

        • Sean II

          You’re spoiling my performance art, dude.

          If you hadn’t explained that, a bunch of people were going to miss the point, pitch a fit, and in the process show how they too indulge in the kind of hysterical pearl clutching that’s behind the Tuven witch hunt.

        • King Goat

          Mr. Biology is Destiny was striking a blow against sexist chauvinism? Duping yourself for the sake of Internet community is never worth it.

          • No. Please re-read my comment, since that is clearly not what I said.

          • Sean II

            See. You should’ve just let my little experiment run its course.

            I had a neat analogy ready to go, about how this episode (along with the recent campus speech battles) amounts to a kind of Krondstadt rebellion in the culture war, in which the aging Mensheviks of Political Correctness – people like Brian Leiter and other old school liberals – realize a bit too late they must try to make a stand against the rising Bolsheviks of Intersectionality.

            But they’re probably gonna lose, for lack of a moral leg to stand on. The old PC Mensheviks were only too happy to kill discussion of questions they didn’t like. They just did it less often, for a smaller set of issues, trying with some blessed streak of hypocrisy to be minimally invasive and preserve as much of free inquiry as they could.

            But the limits they agreed on were informal, unspoken, and hence in the long run unenforceable.

            Meanwhile the machinery they created to shut down unwanted lines of inquiry and protect codes of orthodoxy is not nearly so intangible. It sits there begging to be picked and used, by those with more utopian fervor and fewer liberal scruples.

            That’s the thing about children: they see the hypocrisy of their elders, but never the nuance which created it. Indeed they often see the scrubbing away of that hypocrisy as central to their generation’s moral adventure.

          • The bad news is that I had to learn the hard way. The good news is that I won’t make the same mistake twice.

          • Sean II


          • Theresa Klein

            the rising Bolsheviks of Intersectionality.

            Doesn’t “intersectionality” just refer to combining issues of race AND gender (and whatever else)? This seems more like a desperate effort to identify a research space that hasn’t already been explored than a new Bolshevik revolution. But I haven’t been on campus or paid attention to activist politics much lately so maybe I’m missing something.

          • Sean II

            Well, it sure doesn’t hurt that Intersectionality has the potential for creating academic fiefs, but that’s probably not the main point.

            It’s greater purpose is as a means of settling creating and aggravating disputes among competing victim groups.

            You say “As a woman I’ve experienced discrimination…”

            Someone else cuts you off: “As a gay aboriginal woman, shut your privileged white mouth, and let me show you what real discrimination is”.

            The result is a world where no one can understand anyone. Every thought begins with “As a [identity here]”. And every argument ends with a dressed up pomo version of “that’s just, like, your opinion, man”.

            Except you wouldn’t say “man”, of course. Possibly you wouldn’t say “your”. Pronouns are tricky.

            Also, this is probably a good time to reiterate my point from another thread:

            The thing which makes transgenderism such a perfect political cause is control. There simply aren’t enough trans people to make a movement, so any movement on their behalf will inevitably end up being controlled by other people. Works out great for those other people. They get a plaintiff in perpetuity, they get to represent them in a potentially endless series of complaints, and because the plaintiff is effectively speechless, they stand no chance of being fired. Remains to be seen what all this does for actual trans people.

          • Theresa Klein

            Ahh, yeah, I can see how it would make everyone’s victim status claim essentially unassailable. You can’t possibly understand me not being a disabled gay chinese woman. Mutual recognition is impossible, everyone’s claims of oppression must be universally accepted at face value. Nobody shall have any of their opinions challenged because that would be “unsafe”. And (naturally) all demands must be met, however unreasonable. Because who are you to say what demands are reasonable or not, being ethno-culturally incapable of evaluating them anyway?

          • TracyW

            You can’t possibly understand me not being a disabled gay chinese woman.

            To which the proper response is “well if I can’t possibly understand you, there’s no point in me wasting my time listening.”

          • TracyW

            Is this really new?
            In times of general Christianity, people would try to claim that arguments they disliked were unchristian (Thomas Babington Macaulay did an excellent take down of one such case. In times of rationality, people would claim that arguments they disliked were irrational (Thomas Babington again, on J. S. Mills Utilitarianism). The exact form changes but there’s nothing new.

            Anyone of any backbone responds to that sort of nonsense with a stout “Do you have any disagreements with my actual argument?” Or other wording as appropriate to their character.

          • King Goat

            I got what you said, I don’t buy your third premise and conclusion as it applies to Sean.

          • Not buying something is different than asking (even rhetorically) whether I said something else. You can’t claim to have understood me all along when your previous reply makes clear that you didn’t.

          • King Goat

            You said:
            “Sean can correct me if I’m wrong, but I took his point to be that, when feminists engage in this kind of behavior, they unwittingly affirm the ugliest accusations of male chauvinists; and since proving chauvinists right is a bad thing, so, too, must that behavior be bad.”

            I said:
            “Mr. Biology is Destiny was striking a blow against sexist chauvinism?”

            You said:
            “Please re-read my comment, since that is clearly not what I said.”

            I said:
            “I got what you said, I don’t buy your third premise and conclusion as it applies to Sean.”

            Where are you confused? Where am I supposed to have not understood you? From the start I said to you I don’t buy that Sean is striking a blow against sexist chauvinism, which was what your original third comment and conclusion rests on.

          • For the third time, your initial reply to me does not address anything that I actually said. Your saying it a third time won’t impact this.

          • King Goat

            “your initial reply to me does not address anything that I actually said.”

            Did you not write this?
            “Sean can correct me if I’m wrong, but I took his point to be that…and since proving chauvinists right is a bad thing, so, too, must that behavior be bad.”

            Because that’s what I objected to all three times.

          • It’s always cute when someone definitely doesn’t understand me and then pretends that really it’s I who doesn’t understand. I am not sure how many times a person has to tell you that you haven’t understood them in order for you to second-guess your understanding of a situation, but my advice to you is: once should be enough. If once isn’t enough, then all you’re doing is demonstrating that you had no intention of understanding in the first place. In that case, I have nothing further to say.

          • King Goat

            Can’t argue with a thrice made ipse dixit. Peace.

          • It’s ironic that you edited a comment that was supposed to end with “Peace” to add a whole bunch of inflammatory nonsense, and generally indicative of your commitment to honest discourse here.

          • King Goat

            Quadrupling down on the ipse dixit is impressive.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Well, at least be grateful that KG didn’t use his make-believe medical degree to diagnose you as “autistic,” as he did me a few threads ago when I just couldn’t seem to appreciate the “brilliant” point he kept making!

          • King Goat

            Felt damaged there, did ya, ALL CAPS?

          • @nsmartinworld

            No line is more effective. Try to prove you aren’t [fill in mental abnormality].

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            I wouldn’t make an issue of it if he called me “stupid” or an “a-hole” or anything like that, because of some disagreement. I object to “autistic” because it implies that autistic people are incapable of appreciating or responding to the “obviously correct” point he thought he was making.

          • @nsmartinworld

            I think it is much worse. Psychiatric slanders are intended to totally disarm someone of legitimacy. They dehumanize in a way comparable to calling someone a witch when the church had immense power. It’s not more possible to prove or disprove a given “mental illness” than it was to prove or disprove witchery.

          • King Goat

            Please. Autistic people are not in any current danger of being slandered, they’re practically valorized. One of the first groups to get special protections, re insurance coverage and such, in most states were the autistic.

          • @nsmartinworld

            You missed the point entirely.

  • “Maybe in this case it’s a good argument. Maybe it’s not.”
    It’s a stupid argument, but an inevitable one, demonstrating only that blacks as a group get the benefit of knee-jerk sympathy from liberals that women as a group do not.

    The academy is a bubble, a safe space by definition. That’s a strength and weakness. There’s no “freedom”; no one would be hired for writing something that others found stupid or offensive. Academic freedom is safety past the post. Free speech is for the world at large; when ideas become accepted they end up in the academy. Libertarianism is an invention, the product of that bubble, the moral an intellectual equal to Oxbridge liberalism. The academicizing of intellectual life, scholasticism, ends in decadence.


    “Why is there so little talk of boycotting anti-abortion states? Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg and other CEOS appear to have no hesitation calling anti-LGBT laws “bad for our employees and bad for business.” So why are they so silent on ant-abortion legislation?”

  • On a lighter note, Barry Stocker pointed out on FB that Josef Stalin himself had signed the petition. It was eventually taken down, but still…

  • Raj Patel

    There’s a really long comment by one of Tuvel’s former professors on the Daily Nous article, from Professor Chloe Taylor. It’s worth looking at. Here’s a highlight: “It is not clear to me that this article does harm, but Rebecca has certainly been harmed. I am almost entirely certain that I would have committed suicide a day ago if this had been me, at which point Rebecca had received virtually no support from the philosophical community, and I admire her strength in withstanding these attacks as bravely as she has. It is not clear to me that Rebecca was furthering her career at the expense of more vulnerable people, but it is clear to me that some of my feminist colleagues (dear friends, respected mentors) have jumped on this opportunity to further their academic careers (virtue signaling to their colleagues) at the expense of someone more vulnerable—an untenured and very junior woman philosopher, who is writing in the norms of the discipline in which she has been trained.” Nail on the head.

    • Sean II

      This ruins it:

      “I am almost entirely certain that I would have committed suicide a day ago if this had been me”

      • Pretty Good Year

        It is fair, though, to recognize that many leftists set out to ruin people’s lives, careers, and reputations over issues of simple disagreement. When people seek to destroy your career due to something that shouldn’t even be controversial, that should be labeled what it is.

        • Sean II

          Okay, but talking about suicide as a response to something like this should be labeled for what it is:

          Inexcusably fucking dramatic for anyone who isn’t in middle school.

          • Melinda Mann

            Doesn’t “ruin it” for me, but I agree with your point. I am sick and tired of mention of suicide these days, in activism and academia. This especially happens among transgender activists who seem to honestly believe that stating (erroneously) that “transgender” people have exceptionally high rates of suicide is a trump card to be played in every debate and that once played, the debate is over and everyone must cede to the demands of the transactivists or be guilty of “literal” murder.

          • Sean II

            “Literal murder”, is that upstream or downstream of “enacting violence” and “erasing bodies”?

            I can never remember.

            But excellent point: if the word “suicide” should be mentioned at all in this context, it oughta sound more like…

            “Further research is needed into the prevention of suicide among trans people, including a non-ideological look at the possible causes of that phenomenon.”

          • King Goat

            “This especially happens among transgender activists who seem to believe that stating (erroneously) that “transgender” people have exceptionally high rates of suicide”

            “why the trans suicide rate is enormously higher than that found in other persecuted groups”

            These two people are *agreeing* with each other.

          • Kurt H
          • Sean II

            Nope. Wishful thinking. Not even close to robust. You need more than one, and measuring a self reported changed in ideation is not a good idea. What matters are attempts.

            Let’s talk about why the rate goes down, when the rate goes down.

          • Kurt H

            Do we have any reason to believe that people from Ontario are unusually susceptible to being talked out of suicide?

          • Sean II

            Well, they did stand fast even against the call of Neil Young’s Helpless.

          • Pretty Good Year

            You don’t think people sometimes get suicidal when strangers randomly set out to destroy their lives? I know it sounds dramatic, and I probably wouldn’t have gone there, but I do think that’s going to one day be the end result of one of these witch hunts.

          • Sean II

            Of course they do, but let’s be clear:

            Committing suicide is tragic.

            Talking about suicide* is tacky.

            * by which I mean “talking about suicide, in public, just to underline a point, when you’re not really thinking about it, and especially when the injured party isn’t even you”. That’s what Taylor did here.

        • Theresa Klein

          The suicide thing is dramatic, but it’s certainly true that the online SJW mafia could be seen as “punching down”, so to speak, in this instance. We’re talking about a non-tenured female junior assistant professor. Had she had an article retracted, that would, in all likelihood, destroy her academic career by causing her to be denied tenure. They chose a vulnerable target and applied maximum mob pressure – as if they were trying to make an example of someone. This is the sort of thing bullies do – make sure that nobody who isn’t a tenured professor dare question them.

          • Sean II

            Good point, but it’s worth noting that full tenured professors aren’t usually any braver than assistants. They are objectively safer, of course, but as a group they act like no one ever told them.

            Trait selection, at its finest. Tenure (like scholastic success in general) doesn’t flow to the brave. It’s flows to conformists.

            Those occasional mavericks you see actually taking their tenure out for a spin…they’re the exception, not the rule.

            Point being: this help explains how that attack letter got written, why so many were willing to sign it, why they got such a swift a retraction, etc.

          • Theresa Klein

            Could be because nobody makes it through the tenure process without demonstrating the proper obesiance to their intellectual overlords.

    • Theresa Klein

      The grotesque recent usage of the word “harm” really, really needs to be taken down.

      We’re at this point where one can argue that “harm” has been caused merely by suggesting that emotional distress might happen at some point in the future if someone’s thesis were to be fully embraced and implemented in official government policy.

      You harmed me by increasing the probability that male chauvanists will exist in the future more likely!

  • King Goat

    I can see why there was opposition to the article. It’s form is sort of like ‘why are people upset about Vanilla Ice, after all lots of blacks in the Jim Crow South acted and passed for white!’


      Rubbish, if the comparison is with trans women it’s comparing people who take on the identity of an oppressed group to other people who take on the identity of an oppressed group. So nothing like the Vanilla Ice v. passing under Jim Crow comparison.

      • King Goat

        The idea is that there’s a difference worth noting between a white lady who takes on a different racial identity to be cool and someone who takes on a different identity in a much more desperate situation.

        • “to be cool”

          You might as well say, “There’s a big difference between the things I am committed to dismissing out of hand, and the things I think are are real concerns.” No kidding. What do you think everybody is talking about?

          • King Goat

            You might have noticed that my comment was about a situation in which someone could have adopted another racial identity out of a need to be cool, a la, Vanilla Ice. Whether Dolezal was so motivated is one thing, but *if* one thinks that’s her motivation *then* my point is it’s easy to see why one would think equating her situation with many transgender people is offensive.

        • urstoff

          Why do you think she did it “to be cool”? That’s basically begging the question against the possibility of transracial identity.

        • Theresa Klein

          If we’re talking about Rachel Dolezal, it doesn’t seem she did it to “be cool”, but that she did it for social acceptance – by black people. She wasn’t trying to impress white people, she was looking for friends, felt more comfortable among black people, given her wierd upbringing and interest in African culture, and wanted black people to accept her. Over time, after being immersed in the black community for many years, she started to identify herself as culturally black.

          • Sean II

            And one of the striking things about Dolezal is how sincere she seemed. Hers was not a case of cynical opportunism, or fashionable role-playing. Looks like she really believed it.

          • King Goat

            A white person acting black to be more accepted by blacks is kind of the definition of acting in a way to ‘be cool.’

          • Theresa Klein

            Kind of … not. To me, trying to “be cool” means trying to impress people. Whereas Dolezal doesn’t seem to have been in it to impress anyone. She just wanted social acceptance and a sense of belonging, which is kind of different.


          At this point, I can’t help but wonder whether, using your make-believe medical degree, you wish to diagnose all of these folks as also suffering from “autism.” Or, whether you are willing to entertain the proposition that they disagree with you because, you know, you said something silly.

          • King Goat

            No, just you. It’s your style of argument and disagreement, as I’ve detailed.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            I’ll just say this, Goat. I have three graduate degrees from Georgetown and Columbia. In obtaining them, I came into close contact with a large number of extremely intelligent people, and others whose high opinion of themselves in this regard did not quite square with reality. But I must say that you have consistently demonstrated the greatest variance between self-assessed and actual IQ that I have ever encountered. So my expert diagnosis of you: “insufferable twit.”

  • Kurt H

    So, I skimmed over Tuvel’s article, and I can see why there was pushback, and can easily come up with several critiques of the thesis. However, I don’t think trying to get the journal to retract the article is fair at all.

    Tuvel does not argue that transgender people are “wrong” in how they self-identify, or even particularly that transracial identity claims are “right” — rather the argument is that many objections to “transracial” identity would also apply to transgender identity, and thus if one accepts transgender identity, one cannot reject transracial identity on those grounds.

    It is always perilous to point out bad arguments for a correct conclusion, since people will often perceive your critique as opposition to the conclusion, rather than the bad argument. Journals should avoid reinforcing that problem.

    • Sean II

      “It is always perilous to point out bad arguments for a correct conclusion… journals should avoid reinforcing that problem…”

      An even better thing to avoid: assuming the conclusion is correct.

      Locking in conclusions before (or frankly without) argument is root of the disease here.

      • Kurt H

        No assumption here. There is wide agreement amongst mental and physical health experts that trans identity is real, due to decades of evidence from multiple sources. A bad assumption would be for some fool on the internet to think his personal bigotries are more likely to be true than the combined knowledge of people who actually study this stuff.

        • Sean II

          “There is wide agreement amongst mental and physical health experts that trans identity is real.”

          Nope. There is wide agreement on the fact that gender dysphoria exists. Which isn’t saying much, because of course it does.

          The important thing is what to do about that, and any agreement on that very open question is political, not scientific.

          • Kurt H

            False. The relevant experts largely agree on the broad strokes of what to do about gender dysphoria — people should live as they want to live, seek a community that accepts that, and physically transition if dysphoria persists.

          • Theresa Klein

            I’m skeptical about the need to physically transition. If the culture at large were actually accepting of non-normative gender identities, then being a woman with a penis or a man with a vagina would be just as acceptable as being a woman with a vagina, or a trans-woman with surgical alterations to create a simulated vagina. There should be no need to have a vagina to identify as female.

            And let’s not kid ourselves, a biological male who physically transitions is not biologically identical to a biological woman. A biological man’s brain who takes sex hormones doesn’t have a brain that is identical to a female brain. There are developmental differences resulting from the brain being awash in different sex hormones throughout fetal development, childhood and adolescence. There are developmental differences that result from having different bodies.

            Again, acceptance of non-normative gender behaviors and identities would render this moot. There can be a spectrum of normal male behaviors and normal female behaviors that defy gendered categories, and one shouldn’t need to have the usual genitalia that goes along with binary gender norms to be accepted. Of course if you’re someone who is just into extreme body modification, you can certainly do it, but it’s elective surgery. Nobody should “need” a fake, surgically crafted vagina to “feel normal”.

          • Kurt H

            The current research is that transitioned transmales have male brains from the get-go, and similarly for transwomen. So, there’s some issues with your facts . . .

            I suppose that with reduced stigma there might be *fewer* patients that choose to transition, but it’s a strong claim to that gender dysphoria is *entirely* a result of social stigma — and the science seems to be against that claim.

          • Theresa Klein

            I’m also skeptical that someone can have a “male brain” (again with the binary gender norms), if that brain has developed from in-utero in a male body. It might not exactly be a “female” brain either. It’s just a brain that had some unusual mix of homones and environmental influences applied to it. Possibly uncategorizable as either “male” or “female”. And possibly most “male” and “female” brains have a spectrum of hormonal and environmental influences that results in a range of gender behaviors that range from the extreme feminine to the extreme masculine, which do not necessarily always line up with the expected physical characteristics of the body.

            If we had a society which accepted more non-normative behaviors from either gender, then there should be no need to surgically alter one’s physical body, because there wouldn’t be anything considered “abnormal” about having a “female brain” (whatever that means) in a “male body”.

            In other words, the idea that physical transition is necessary actually reinforces the binary gender norms that cause trans people such distress. It implies that you can’t be a woman unless you have a vagina, and you can’t be a man unless you have a penis. that there’s something wrong with having non-normative genitalia compared to your personality. I would suggest that transpeople who feel the need to transition have actually internalized gender stereotypes that tell them they can’t simply be who they are. They have internalized the idea that there is something wrong with their body to the point they want to self-mutilate. It’s actually kind of like an eating disorder that way. The way teenage girls develop anorexia because they imagine that they are fat, or the way they get cosmetic surgery on their labia because they think having labia is ugly.

          • Kurt H

            TK: “In other words, the idea that physical transition is necessary actually
            reinforces the binary gender norms that cause trans people such

            The above sentence contains the source of your confusion. You are assuming that the experience of gender norms is the sole cause of gender dysphoria. Oddly, you are assuming this when we already know that gender dysphoria is linked to physiological differences. Now, is it possible that fewer people would transition and/or take hormones if the binary gender norms did not exist? Sure, maybe, but it wouldn’t drop to zero.

          • Theresa Klein

            The physiological differences you describe could be regarded as normal physiological variations within a sex, instead of abnormal. You are kind of begging the question by defining certain physiological characteristics as “female”, instead of as “male”. We could just as easily assign them the other way. What makes one brain “female” and another “male”? Are the brains of transwomen really *just like* the brains of biological women, and do we even know enough about human brains to know that?

          • Lacunaria

            The problem is that Sean is right that the suicide rate does not substantially improve with treatment or social acceptance.

            Thus, your excellent argument actually falsifies your premise that transgenderism is a problem of social oppression of natural, healthy variations in gender. It is instead a body dysmorphic disorder with a compulsion to control perceptions.

            Interestingly, many mental disorders are associated with abnormal white matter, including anorexia, so transgenderism is not unique in that sense, and Kurt’s assertion that people are simply born with opposite sex brains is overblown at this point. From what I’ve read, adult transgenders can be a little over half-way between males and females in select metrics, at most.

          • TracyW

            There should be no need to have a vagina to identify as female.

            Indeed. But I think having a penis is pushing it too far. There are benefits in making distinctions based on biology. Watching discussions over trans terminology illustrates this, as new labels get put on old ideas (DMAB or ‘people with penises’.) Saying that if you have a penis you’re male and if you have a vagina you’re female strikes me as quite logical.

            A biological man’s brain who takes sex hormones doesn’t have a brain that is identical to a female brain.

            Given that no female brain is identical to any other female brain, including those of conjoined twins (and the same for male brains), this seems like a safe assertion.

            Again, acceptance of non-normative gender behaviors and identities would render this moot.

            I don’t think this is true. NZ has had two female prime ministers, including Helen Clark, who was childless and wore trouser suits to meet the queen (and is suspected to be sexually lesbian), and there still are trans men in New Zealand.

            Nobody should “need” a fake, surgically crafted vagina to “feel normal”.

            Nobody should need a dose of heavy drugs around cats to keep from sneezing endlessly. And yet here I am.

          • Theresa Klein

            Indeed. But I think having a penis is pushing it too far. There are benefits in making distinctions based on biology.

            Well, let’s just acknowledge that a surgically crafted “vagina” isn’t really a vagina either. If having a penis means you’re not a woman, then having a surgically created pouch between your legs doesn’t make you a woman either. “Physical transition” does not really turn a male body into a female one.

            I’m not saying anyone should be barred from doing whatever body modification they want to themselves. I’m saying it is not a necessary medical treatment – it is elective surgery. Lots of women would feel happier if they got massive plastic surgery to look prettier. But nobody prescribes this to them as a medical procedure necessary to cure their body image problem.

          • Sean II

            I notice your claim has narrowed. We’ve gone from:

            1) “wide agreement among mental and physical health experts”, to

            2) “broad strokes” agreement among “relevant experts”

            Where “relevant experts” clearly means “people who work in this hyper politicized sub-topic”. Okay, but that’s verging on tautology. The whole point of this thread being that even mild dissent has been chilled in this region. That’s how “relevant experts” get turned into irrelevant experts.
            Once upon a time there were no experts more relevant than those at Hopkins, but the trans movement disliked the conclusions they reached, so irrelevant their expertise became.

            You’ve also narrowed the things being agreed upon among your relative experts. We’ve gone from:

            1) “trans identity is real”, to

            2) a blander consensus about a) not using old-school corrective therapy, b) people doing better around folks who don’t hate them, and c) surgery “if dysphoria persists”.

            Okay, so it’s true there is widespread agreement on a) But one doesn’t need to accept the tenants of trans ideology for that. One simply needs a revulsion against torture and a willingness to stop doing something that never worked. The set [health professionals against conversion therapy] is not remotely synonymous with the set [health professionals who agree that trans is real]. Example: no one thinks Capgras delusions are real cases of spousal impersonation, but no one thinks we should beat, starve, shock, and otherwise torment people with Capgras.

            b) is such a triviality that it’s hard to imagine anyone who wouldn’t agree.

            Finally, take a close look at c), because you’ve cornered yourself. If experts really believed that trans is “real”, why would they wait to see if gender dysphoria persists? When someone believes something real, you don’t wait for them to change their mind. But that is exactly what you do with delusions. You wait and see if the delusion doesn’t clear, and while it lasts, you do everything in your power to stop the victim from making any irreversible decisions, to stop them from hurting themselves.

            Also, not for nothing, a lot hinges on the practical definition of “persists”. If sone experts want to offer surgery at earliest convenience, and others think two years minimum, while others consider a decade reasonable time to wait, they don’t really agree on much of anything, do they?

          • Kurt H

            I like how b) is now a “triviality” — given that your whole argument above is that oppression is not influencing outcomes for trans people. Just two posts ago this was a claim that provoked hyper-skepticism on your part, and now it’s no big deal. Your claims didn’t just narrow, they vanished. As for part c), the degree of gender dysphoria clearly varies from person-to-person, thus we would expect the treatment to vary as well. Nothing shocking about this

          • Sean II

            1) I said the suicide rate doesn’t respond to changes in oppression.

            That, you may note, is that the same as saying “oppression doesn’t suck” or “oppression is fun” or “oppression doesn’t influence outcomes [other than suicide]”.

            2) “As for part c), the degree of gender dysphoria clearly varies from person-to-person, thus we would expect the treatment to vary as well. Nothing shocking about this.”

            Okay, but that’s not what the trans movement believes, and it’s an even further step away from “experts believe trans identity is real”.

            Why? Because we’re getting very close to admitting that trans identity is a delusion, the first line treatment for which is tincture of time and a dose of get over it.

            That isn’t just heresy to the official line. It’s blasphemy and desecration.

          • Kurt H

            1) But as noted previously, the suicide rate *does* respond to changes in oppression, you just reject the evidence because apparently sucidal ideation works in a unique super-special way in eastern Canada, or something.

            2) I don’t think you’re the right person to ask about what trans advocates think.

          • Lacunaria

            Sean’s point is that the actual suicide rate doesn’t change, even if the results of surveys do change.

  • Daemon Mori’khai

    Well said

  • Theresa Klein

    Completely agree. I’m not sure why transracialism is so controversial, but if other scholars object to someone’s thesis about it, they should engage intellectually with responsive journal articles, rather than demanding that her paper be officially denounced and retracted. This is the behavior of a dogmatist – instead of offering an intellectual response critical of the paper, they demand that an authority condemn it and suppress it.

    Plenty of scientific research that turns out to be incorrect gets published. We don’t demand the retraction of papers just because someone is *wrong*, or even because of sloppy methodology, or because they didn’t cite everyone that is relevant to the field, but only because they falsified data or plagiarized.

  • Peter M

    A more reasonable criticism is that using classical logic in cases like this makes one vulnerable to the principle of explosion (EFQ). Contradiction is pretty inherent in any discussion of transgenderism. There are logic forms that may be used Herrmann, but they imply uncertainty in their conclusion (and in their priors.) The criticism of Tuva’s paper is certainly an implicit recognition of uncertainty in claims about transgender issues.

    • Sean II

      “Contradiction is pretty inherent in any discussion of transgenderism”

      What did you have in mind here?

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  • ThaomasH

    Seem like there is even stronger reasons to accept trantsracial identities; many more people have genes from ancestors of different “races” that are transgender.

    • Lacunaria

      “[than] are transgender.” Minor quibble, but I had to re-read it a few times to get it so I thought I’d mention it.

  • stevenjohnson2

    The real claim in the post is that Hypatia and its entire subfield are scholastically unacceptable. That’s an opinion, which is here asserted, but not supported. What we do get is indignation over personal professional behavior. Since the author doesn’t actually believe Hypatia has any standards, he should actually be reproaching people for taking Hypatia’s/Tuvel’s pretensions seriously. The point I think is not to have a coherent position but to inflame opinion against…somebody.

    The last link cites research that says “highly informed” people have such and such opinions on a number of policy issues. The problem for the post is that none of those are relevant, not even to the imagined attack on Brennan for having his opinion of the Tuvel controversy. Even if you try to read this as actually claiming that people should conduct regression analysis on multiple scientific opinion surveys before they make claims, it fails to establish why Jason Brennan has the legal power to demand that people spend that much money, effort and time.

    Well, there have been much worse instances of links that supposedly support a point, and don’t. But it is appropriately amusing to have bad scholarship in a cheap shot at bad scholarship.

    • Lacunaria

      That is a claim but surely not “the real claim”. The real claim is that their tactics are not scholastic, which is why they are unacceptable — namely, they are silencing and cowing rather than rebutting and debating.

      Also, I’m not sure where you got Brennan’s claim of “legal power”.

      • stevenjohnson2

        As to the first, have to disagree: Brennan’s objection is very much like a DEA agent accusing a guy of dealing drugs, then going on and on about him short-changing his customers. Your version doesn’t work because Brennan does not believe Hypatia is a reputable journal, nor does he take Tuvel’s arguments seriously. He doesn’t think any of them ever had anything but a claque, and that is not a principled difference from silencing and cowing.

        On the other hand, Brennan’s “legal power” was meant as humor. It has failed miserably, and I will not be opening in Vegas this Friday. You have wounded me deeply, deeply, so I will crawl away to whimper and moan.

        • Lacunaria

          Your analogy is decent as a comment on proportionality and appearances, but one indictment does not invalidate the other. Moreover, in this particular case, the idea of harmful speech and silencing actually seems endemic to their scholastic arguments, so it’s not surprising that it would manifest in these anti-scholastic tactics.

          Whatever Brennan’s argument, he is not petitioning for the removal of adverse papers from a supposedly academic journal, so there clearly is a principled difference.

          lol that I missed your humor. Cheers. 🙂

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