Ordinary discourse is filled with discussions about ‘sexual orientation’. This discourse might suggest a common understanding of what sexual orientation is. But even a cursory search turns up vastly differing, conflicting, and sometimes ethically troubling characterizations of sexual orientation. The conceptual jumble surrounding sexual orientation suggests that the topic is overripe for philosophical exploration. This paper lays the groundwork for such an exploration. In it, I offer an account of sexual orientation – called ‘Bidimensional Dispositionalism’ – according to which sexual (...) orientation concerns what sex[es] and gender[s] of persons one is disposed to sexually engage, and makes no reference to one’s own sex and gender. (shrink)
Alex Byrne’s article, “Are Women Adult Human Females?”, asks a question that Byrne treats as nearly rhetorical. Byrne’s answer is, ‘clearly, yes’. Moreover, Byrne claims, 'woman' is a biological category that does not admit of any interpretation as (also) a social category. It is important to respond to Byrne’s argument, but mostly because it is paradigmatic of a wider phenomenon. The slogan “women are adult human females” is a political slogan championed by anti-trans activists, appearing on billboards, pamphlets, and anti-trans (...) online forums. In this paper, I respond to Byrne’s argument, revealing significant problems with its background assumptions, content, and methodology. (shrink)
We want to know what gender is. But metaphysical approaches to this question solely have focused on the binary gender kinds men and women. By overlooking those who identify outside of the binary–the group I call ‘genderqueer’–we are left without tools for understanding these new and quickly growing gender identifications. This metaphysical gap in turn creates a conceptual lacuna that contributes to systematic misunderstanding of genderqueer persons. In this paper, I argue that to better understand genderqueer identities, we must recognize (...) a new type of gender kind: critical gender kinds, or kinds whose members collectively destabilize one or more pieces of dominant gender ideology. After developing a model of critical gender kinds, I suggest that genderqueer is best modeled as a critical gender kind that destabilizes the ‘binary axis’, or the piece of dominant gender ideology that says that the only possible genders are the binary, discrete, exclusive, and exhaustive kinds men and women. (shrink)
Gender classifications often are controversial. These controversies typically focus on whether gender classifications align with facts about gender kind membership: Could someone really be nonbinary? Is Chris Mosier really a man? I think this is a bad approach. Consider the possibility of ontological oppression, which arises when social kinds operating in a context unjustly constrain the behaviors, concepts, or affect of certain groups. Gender kinds operating in dominant contexts, I argue, oppress trans and nonbinary persons in this way: they marginalize (...) trans men and women, and exclude nonbinary persons. As a result, facts about membership in dominant gender kinds should not settle gender classification practices. (shrink)
In this paper, we defend two main claims. The first is a moderate claim: we have a negative duty to not use binary gender-specific pronouns he or she to refer to genderqueer individuals. We defend this with an argument by analogy. It was gravely wrong for Mark Latham to refer to Catherine McGregor, a transgender woman, using the pronoun he; we argue that such cases of misgendering are morally analogous to referring to Angel Haze, who identifies as genderqueer, as he (...) or she. The second is a radical claim: we have a negative duty to not use any gender-specific pronouns to refer to anyone, regardless of their gender identity. We offer three arguments in favor of this claim (which appeal to concerns about inegalitarianism and risk, invasions of privacy, and reinforcing essentialist ideologies). We also show why the radical claim is compatible with the moderate claim. Before concluding, we examine common concerns about incorporating either they or a neologism such as ze as a third-person singular gender-neutral pronoun. These concerns, we argue, do not provide sufficient reason to reject either the moderate or radical claim. (shrink)
We live in a world saturated in both racial and gendered divisions. Our focus is on one place where attitudes about these divisions diverge: language. We suspect most everyone would be horrified at the idea of adding race-specific pronouns, honorifics, generic terms, and so on to English. And yet gender-specific terms of the same sort are widely accepted and endorsed. We think this asymmetry cannot withstand scrutiny. We provide three considerations against incorporating additional race-specific terms into English, and argue that (...) these considerations also support eliminating the analogous gender-specific terms. With respect to these parts of speech, English should be no more gender-specific than it already is race-specific. (shrink)
What’s important about ‘coming out’? Why do we wear business suits or Star Trek pins? Part of the answer, we think, has to do with what we call agential identity. Social metaphysics has given us tools for understanding what it is to be socially positioned as a member of a particular group and what it means to self-identify with a group. But there is little exploration of the general relationship between self-identity and social position. We take up this exploration, developing (...) an account of agential identity—the self-identities we make available to others. Agential identities are the bridge between what we take ourselves to be and what others take us to be. Understanding agential identity not only fills an important gap in the literature, but also helps us explain politically important phenomena concerning discrimination, malicious identities, passing, and code-switching. These phenomena, we argue, cannot be understood solely in terms of self-identity or social position. (shrink)
Chinese translation courtesy of Zhuanxu Xu. We want to know what gender is. But metaphysical approaches to this question solely have focused on the binary gender kinds men and women. By overlooking those who identify outside of the binary–the group I call ‘genderqueer’–we are left without tools for understanding these new and quickly growing gender identifications. This metaphysical gap in turn creates a conceptual lacuna that contributes to systematic misunderstanding of genderqueer persons. In this paper, I argue that to better (...) understand genderqueer identities, we must recognize a new type of gender kind: critical gender kinds, or kinds whose members collectively resist dominant gender ideology. After developing a model of critical gender kinds, I suggest that genderqueer is best modeled as a critical gender kind that stands in opposition to `the binary assumption', or the prevalent assumption that the only possible genders are the binary, discrete, exclusive, and exhaustive kinds men and women. (shrink)
There has been extensive discussion of testimonial epistemic injustice, the phenomenon whereby a speaker’s testimony is rejected due to prejudice regarding who they are. But people also have their testimony rejected or preempted due to prejudice regarding what they communicate. Here, the injustice is content focused. We describe several cases of content focused injustice, and we theoretically interrogate those cases by building up a general framework through which to understand them as a genuine form of epistemic injustice that stands in (...) intertwined relationships to other forms of epistemic injustice. (shrink)
Twice in the 2020 term, in Bostock and Comcast, the Supreme Court doubled down on the reasoning of “but-for causation” to interpret antidiscrimination statutes. According to this reasoning, an outcome is discriminatory because of some status—say, sex or race—just in case the outcome would not have occurred “but-for” the plaintiff’s status. We think this reasoning embeds profound conceptual errors that render the decisions deeply confused. Furthermore, those conceptual errors tend to limit the reach of antidiscrimination law. In this essay, we (...) first unpack the ambiguity of this but-for causal reasoning. We then show that this reasoning arises from a misapplication of tort law principles within antidiscrimination law, and that, as a result, it is both conceptually and normatively indeterminate. (shrink)
In the consolidated cases Altitude Express v. Zarda, Bostock v. Clayton County, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, the Supreme Court will decide whether or not Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Although the parties disagree as to the appropriate formulation of a but-for test to determine whether or not there was a discriminatory outcome, all parties do agree to the use of such a test, which asks “whether the evidence (...) shows ‘treatment of a person in a manner which but for that person’s sex would be different.’” City of Los Angeles, Dep’t. of Water and Power v. Manhart, 435 U.S. 702, 711 (1978). However, but-for tests confuse more than they clarify the inquiry; a discriminatory outcome cannot be explained by appeal to just a discrete characteristic of a particular person. Individuals are not discriminated against because of these characteristics per se. Rather, they are discriminated against because of the social meanings and expectations that attach to these characteristics. Beyoncé and Taylor Swift illustrate the difference between individual-level causation and social explanation in two separate songs, “If I Were a Boy” and “The Man.” The explanation for why the counterfactual ‘male’ Beyoncé and Swift are evaluated differently than their current ‘female’ versions does not lie in individual-level features considered apart from the social world, but in social-level roles and expectations associated with those features. For this reason, a social explanation test—one that asks whether the social meanings of sex characteristics, rather than the characteristics per se, explain the outcome in question—is more suitable for determining whether or not Title VII has been violated. (shrink)
Dembroff’s “Escaping the natural attitude about gender” replies to my “Are women adult human females?”. This paper responds to Dembroff’s many criticisms of my arguments, as well as to the charge that “Are women...” “fundamentally is an unscholarly attempt to vindicate a political slogan that is currently being used to undermine civic rights and respect for trans persons”. I argue that Dembroff’s criticisms fail without exception, and explain why the claims about my motives are baseless.
Transgender often is understood either as an identity, or else as the full spectrum of gender nonconformity. In this essay, I advocate for recentering transgender on the experience of costly and willful gender deviance.
Patriarchy and white supremacy are unjust social systems, constituted by causal structures that produce systemic gender injustice and racial injustice. Intersectional theory highlights that these forms of injustice often are inseparable, as in instances of misogynoir. What does this mean for our understanding of unjust systems? Recent work in feminist theory suggests that intersectional insights undermine the idea that there are multiple unjust systems. In this paper, I hope to show that this is not the case. I’ll suggest that intersectional (...) injustice is best explained by the overlap of unjust systems, or when unjust systems are co-constituted by the same causal structures. I’ll then argue that, despite their overlap, unjust systems can be individuated in terms of their essential ideologies. These distinct ideologies reveal unjust systems like patriarchy and white supremacy to be distinct goal-oriented processes that can be simultaneously manifested by the same causal structures. (shrink)
In this article, Dembroff argues that the category nonbinary should not be understood in terms of presentation or psychological states, but instead in terms of how its members are politically situated with respect to the binary expectations of Western gender ideology.
In this peer commentary on Maura Priest's "Transgender Children and the Right to Transition: Medical Ethics When Parents Mean Well but Cause Harm", I argue against the "mismatch" model of trans identity. On this model, which is prevalent in institutional and medical contexts, to be trans is to have one's gender identity "mismatch" with one's sexed body.
The doctrine of materialism is one of the most controversial in the history of ideas. For much of its history it has been aligned with toleration and englightened thinking, but it has also aroused strong, often violent, passions among both its opponents and proponents. This book explores the deelopment of materialism in an engaging and thought-provoking way and defends the form it takes in the twenty-first century.
Abstract This paper deals with the asymmetrical manner in which people perceive norms: sometimes these are seen as mere restraints, and sometimes??from a higher viewpoint??they can be seen as constituent elements in the structure of a group. A model of this is offered from ethology??the process of boundary stabilization in a nesting colony of gulls. Symbolic activity is often associated with such boundaries and this too has a two?level appearance. The creative achievement of language is discussed. A parallel is then (...) elaborated (using a passage from Michael Polanyi) between the work of a scientist (who articulates in language the working principles of natural phenomena) and that of a judge (who articulates the hidden tensions, principles and values at work in human society). Polanyi's account of tacit and explicit knowledge is then seen to be similar to Ronald Dworkin's view of the judicial process. This is in marked contrast to the still popular ?positivist? view of law. An educational corollary is important: that extensive practical experience of the processes of order, in family, school etc., is an essential precondition for any theoretical discussion of values, principles or rules. (shrink)
Analytic philosophy has transgender trouble. In this paper, I explore potential explanations for this trouble, focusing on the notion of 'cisgender commonsense' and its place in philosophical methodology.
Unlike gender inequality, racial inequality primarily accumulates across generations. In this article, Dembroff and Payton argue that transracial identification undermines collective reckoning with that injustice.
Robin Attfield introduces environmental ethics, exploring the values involved in issues such as pollution, habitat loss, and climate change. Considering the different groups involved in environmental ethics, and the attitudes of the world's religions to environmental stewardship, he calls for action from us all to manage our environment ethically.
We argue that the claim that essence-based causal explanations emerge, hydra-like, from an inherence heuristic is incomplete. No plausible mechanism for the transition from concrete properties, or cues, to essences is provided. Moreover, the fundamental shotgun and storytelling mechanisms of the inherence heuristic are not clearly enough specified to distinguish them, developmentally, from associative or causal networks.
A challenge of performing research in the paediatric emergency and acute care setting is obtaining valid prospective informed consent from parents. The ethical issues are complex, and it is important to consider the perspective of participants, health care workers and researchers on research without prospective informed consent while planning this type of research. We performed a systematic review according to PRISMA guidelines, of empirical evidence relating to the process, experiences and acceptability of alternatives to prospective informed consent, in the paediatric (...) emergency or acute care setting. Major medical databases and grey sources were searched and results were screened and assessed against eligibility criteria by 2 authors, and full text articles of relevant studies obtained. Data were extracted onto data collection forms and imported into data management software for analysis. Thirteen studies were included in the review consisting of nine full text articles and four abstracts. Given the heterogeneity of the methods, results could not be quantitatively combined for meta-analysis, and qualitative results are presented in narrative form, according to themes identified from the data. Major themes include capacity of parents to provide informed consent, feasibility of informed consent, support for alternatives to informed consent, process issues, modified consent process, child death, and community consultation. Our review demonstrated that children, their families, and health care staff recognise the requirement for research without prior consent, and are generally supportive of enrolling children in such research with the provisions of limiting risk, and informing parents as soon as possible. Australian data and perspectives of children are lacking and represent important knowledge gaps. (shrink)
Two experiments using a realistic version of the selection task examined the relationship between participants' probability estimates of finding a counter example and their selections. Experiment 1 used everyday categories in the context of a scenario to determine whether or not the number of instances in a category affected the estimated probability of a counter-example. Experiment 2 modified the scenario in order to alter participants' estimates of finding a specific counter-example. Unlike Kirby 1994a, but consistent with his proposals, both studies (...) showed that probability estimates significantly predicted selection. Overall results point to the value of understanding selections in terms of their subjective expected utility. (shrink)
Chinese translation by Zhuanxu Xu. Analytic philosophy has transgender trouble. In this paper, I explore potential explanations for this trouble, focusing on the notion of 'cisgender commonsense' and its place in philosophical methodology.
People who inject drugs are often the target of stigma that puts this already at-risk group at greater risk of harm. Past research has shown that holding stigmatizing views of people who inject drugs increases risky behaviors and is a barrier to their engagement in important medical and public health interventions. One explanation is that the negativity surrounding the group causes increased levels of anticipated emotional exhaustion, discouraging positive engagement. However, there has been minimal research focused on addressing this negativity (...) to reduce levels of held stigma against people who inject drugs. We hypothesized that giving people an imagined positive contact exercise about people who inject would lead to a reduction in stigma, since exposure to positive empathy may create new mental associations between stigmatized groups and more positive emotions and experiences. Secondarily, we hypothesized that positive empathy strategies would be more effective than traditional informational or learning based techniques, and that the latter would be more effective than a control condition. Our sample consisted of 375 participants recruited online. Participants were assigned to one of three study conditions: a positive empathy condition, an informational learning condition, or a control condition, and completed a posttest social distance measure. Results demonstrated that subjects exposed to the positive empathy stigma reduction condition experienced a significant reduction in held stigma while participants exposed to traditional informational learning techniques showed no significant reduction in held stigma. Positive empathy-based stigma interventions should be further researched as a promising avenue to reduce the effects of drug-related stigma. (shrink)
David Lewis is widely credited with the first formulation of common knowledge and the first rigorous analysis of convention. However, common knowledge and convention entered mainstream game theory only when they were formulated, later and independently, by other theorists. As a result, some of the most distinctive and valuable features of Lewis' game theory have been overlooked. We re-examine this theory by reconstructing key parts in a more formal way, extending it, and showing how it differs from more recent game (...) theory. In contrast to current theories of common knowledge, Lewis' theory is based on an explicit analysis of the modes of reasoning that are accessible to rational individuals and so can be used to analyse the genesis of common knowledge. Lewis' analysis of convention emphasises the role of inductive reasoning and of salience in the maintenance of conventions over time. Footnotes Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the 13th Amsterdam Colloquium at the University of Amsterdam, at a workshop on social norms at Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, and at seminars at Tilburg University and the University of Bristol. We are grateful for comments from participants at those meetings, from two anonymous referees, and from Michael Bacharach, Nick Bardsley, Cristina Bicchieri, Luc Bovens, Simon Grant, David McCarthy, Shepley Orr, Brian Skyrms, Peter Vanderschraaf, Peter Wakker and Jörgen Weibull. Robert Sugden's work was supported by the Leverhulme Trust. (shrink)
Mitchell et al.'s claim, that their propositional theory is a single-process theory, is illusory because they relegate some learning to a secondary memory process. This renders the single-process theory untestable. The propositional account is not a process theory of learning, but rather, a heuristic that has led to interesting research.
Originally published in 1987 and re-issued in 2020 with a new Preface, this book presents and elaborates interrelated solutions to a number of problems in moral philosophy, from the location of intrinsic value and the nature of a worthwhile life, via the limits of obligation and the nature of justice, to the status of moral utterances. After developing a biocentric account of moral standing, the author locates worthwhile life in the development of the generic capacities of a creature, whether human (...) or nonhuman, and presents an account of relative intrinsic value which later generates a theory of interspecific justice. This value-theory also informs a consequentialist understanding of obligation, of moral rightness and of supererogation. The understanding thus supplied is shown to cope with the problems of integrity, of justice and of the 'Repugnant Conclusion' in population ethics. A cognitivist account of ethical conclusions such as those so far reached is then defended against non-cognitivist and relativist objections and a far-reaching naturalist theory is defended, integrating earlier conclusions with an account of the logic of the fundamental ethical concepts. This wide-ranging volume which maps the whole area of morality is thoroughly argued with reference both to contemporary philosophical developments and to classical theories. (shrink)
In this book, first published in 1991, the author Dr Robin Barrow adopts the view that utilitarianism is the most coherent and persuasive ethical theory we have and argues in favour of a specific form of rule-utilitarianism. This book will be of interest to students of philosophy.