More on Transgenderism and Birth Certificates (Part I)

Since joining the gang here at Rightly Considered, I have been waiting for a suitable topic on which to make my first post. That opportunity came with the news that mere weeks after Canada’s Bill C-16 passed, there is an effort in British Columbia to remove sex/gender markers from birth certificates, allegedly because such markers constitute human rights violations. Alas, Catholic Hulk beat me to it, but I thought I would make a post anyway and expand on his central point.

If you aren’t familiar, the case involves Kori Doty, who is fighting for their child, Searyl Atli, to be issued a birth certificate without specifying sex or gender. Contrary to what Catholic Hulk stated in his post, a birth certificate has not in fact been issued. Instead a health services card (for provincial medical insurance) was issued with a “U”, presumably for unknown or unspecified. Meanwhile, the case is in front of the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. (!)

Their argument is that since baby Searyl will not discover his/her gender identity until later in life, it is presumptuous and potentially harmful to assign Searyl a sex based solely on a visual examination of genitals. But wait, are we not supposed to distinguish sex and gender? As Catholic Hulk persuasively argues, these people seem to be confused about their own ideology:

If a healthy gender identity can be distinct from and independent of sex, and if sex can be known without knowing “gender identity”, as transgender advocates would have us believe, then the assignment of a sex to a baby does not also assign that baby’s gender identity.

The matter is not made any clearer by the fact that many of the major news outlets also appear to equivocate between sex and gender in their reporting on this story. It is also worth noting that the government documents in question specify sex and not gender. So it is already the case that Canadians can receive birth certificates without a gender marker, since they don’t specify gender at all.

Whether the equivocation is the result of lazy thinking or intentional and strategic obfuscation on this increasingly opaque issue is hard to say. Here is how the activist organization supporting Kori Doty, The Gender-Free ID Coalition, defines sex and gender:

Sex 

Medically, physical characteristics including genitals, chromosomes, hormones, and internal morphology.

Sex is the physical characteristics one has at birth.

Socially one is assigned a sex as either M or F based on a visual inspection. Occasionally intersex infants with ambiguous genitalia are surgically altered to be raised as either M or F.

Gender 

Gender is the social practice of treating people as a member of “a” gender, usually either M or F.

Gendering practices include most notably the ubiquitous practice of requiring that people report their gender as either M or F.

In popular understanding ‘gender’ is conflated with ‘sex’.

That last line is ironic given their own apparent conflation. Meanwhile, the CBC reports Doty’s own thinking:

Doty says a visual inspection at birth can’t accurately determine what sex or gender that person will have or identify with for the rest of their life — whether it’s because they have both male and female genitals, as is the case with intersex individuals or because they don’t identify with the gender they present, as is the case with transgender or non-binary persons.

But if sex just is the physical characteristics that one can identify with a visual inspection, per the above definition, then it is eminently possible to accurately determine the sex of a child at birth (exempting the rare intersex cases). Even if everything that happens after that is up for grabs in one way or another, we could admit that there is such thing as sex at birth.

However, I suspect the gender activists are not satisfied with that modest conclusion. For Doty is concerned that what we say about the sex of a baby must not prejudge “what sex or gender that person [a] will have or [b] identify with for the rest of their life.” So evidently, like gender, sex may not be stable across time. It may change depending on either a) what your “true” sex ends up being, or b) what sex you identify with later in life. In the former case, it appears that sex can even change despite unambiguous physical characteristics present at birth, since you may not identify with those sex characteristics later in life. There simply is no fact of the matter about sex at birth.

Where does this leave gender? The best I can make of it is that someone with a gender identity that doesn’t match their sex assigned at birth is reconstructed as a person for whom the sex they were assigned at birth was false or at least undetermined. For example, it wasn’t true that the mother of Caitlyn Jenner gave birth to a son in 1949. Such a person acquires their new “true” sex assignment (with the assistance of surgery and hormones) at a later date, and this discovery alters retroactively their sex in the past. We are to suppose such a person was a woman from the very beginning, a woman stuck in a man’s body. Sex, then, turns out to be as much a matter of identity as gender. There is no such thing as biological sex.

So it seems the gender activists do want to have their cake and eat it too, and perhaps they can, but not without the high cost of ignoring biology altogether. Finally, Catholic Hulk writes:

If they [gender activists] wish to proclaim that sex does not determine or entail a “gender identity”, then they cannot consistently claim that assignments of sex on birth certificates determine or are incompatible with certain “gender identities.”

Here rather than sex determining gender identity, as most ordinary people believe, it actually appears that the gender activists believe gender identity determines sex to the extent that sex cannot be determined definitively until we learn how a person (child?) gender identifies. This is hardly a coherent position, given their own definitions of sex and gender. But it does tell us something about the slipperiness of their thinking.

There is a lot more that can be said about this topic beyond its logical conundrums, so I’ll use a future follow up post to explore some of its social, moral, and cultural implications.

Lucius Vorenus

Lucius Vorenus is a philosopher somewhere in the United States. A former libertarian, he would now describe his views as a mix of classical liberalism and Burkean conservatism. He also thinks academic philosophy is long overdue for a shake up.

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163 Comments

  1. There seems to be an incoherence between the first-order beliefs (or ‘identities’) of the trans people and the second-order theoretical claims they make about gender. If you ask a gender studies prof about the nature of gender, it will say that gender is a ‘social construct’, etc. But surely when Jenner says “I’m a woman” he doesn’t mean anything like “I belong to the same socially recognized gender/sex category as my mom and my daughters”. If he were in that category there’d be no story (and there’d be no controversy about deleting “M” from birth certificates, etc). Jenner is saying that he’s a woman, not that he’s socially regarded as a woman or ‘constructed’ as one, etc. He’s demanding that he be regarded as a woman, because he really is one. Not sure how to make this point clear. The whole topic is so weird and confused. But I hope you get the gist.

  2. A related thought… Even if ‘gender’ is a ‘social practice’ it seems undeniable that the resulting ‘gender’ concepts ‘M’ and ‘F’ are concepts of natural or biological kinds (regardless of whether there really are any biological kinds). A woman is a female human being. A female human being has the same biological or natural role as a female whale. When doctors call a fetus ‘F’ they don’t _think_ that they’re just inducting it into a language game. This is plainly correct as an example of how these words or concepts are used. But even if X is determined by social convention, it doesn’t follow that we can make X whatever we want just by changing our conventions. No amount of social activity can make a funeral a chess game. If in reality there is nothing biological that ‘M’ and ‘F’ represent, and we now realize that fact, we should just stop thinking in terms of ‘M’ and ‘F’. But that’s not what they say. They don’t say that no one is a woman, but that there are way more women than anyone thought. Makes my head hurt trying to imagine what the hell they’re trying to say.

  3. As you say Lucius Vorensus, the people pushing this agenda want it both ways. The entire situation is totally incoherent, and sometimes it is difficult to know how to even wrap one’s arms around it. It really does boggle the mind.

  4. Well, remember, the “theory” involved here is an ad hoc rationalization for the acceptance and celebration of mental illness. It’s no surprise that it’s incoherent. It was never meant to be coherent in the first place; it was only meant to bring some semblance of respectability to dysfunctional behavior.

  5. I’d be happy with someone coherently telling me what transgenders are saying when they proclaim that they have a gender identity of such-and-such. I mean, yes, I understand myself as a man, but only because I am an adult male. Do I feel like a man? What the heck does that even mean? I have certain social experiences in virtue of being a man. I have a masculine personality. I dig chicks. I like sports. I have chest hair. But what on earth is man phenomenology? It seems to reduce itself to stereotypes about the sexes, those that feminists have been attacking since the 60s.

  6. Canada’s Catholic bishops recently published a statement. As you might have guessed, I share their view. In it, they proclaim that a person’s “gender” cannot be separated from his sex. They are part of the same reality, and thus Catholics cannot accept transgender ideology. This is not to say that a person’s “gender identity” is the same as his sex, but just that the two cannot be properly disassociated.

    http://www.cccb.ca/site/eng/media-room/statements-a-letters/4765-cccb-statement-on-the-passage-of-bill-c-16-regarding-gender-identity-and-gender-expression

  7. Nice post. The incoherence is coming full circle. I suspect that what they want to claim is that anything that infringes on their own autonomy and identity is socially constructed. The end result is assumed to be the potential to have absolutely nothing constrain how they view themselves and how they determine their personal lives. It must be tiring for these sorts of progressives to live like this. Most everything in life is a force trying to constrain you, even if mere biology. Most of the people who disagree with you hate you and are constantly judging you (or so they apparently think).Seems like a mangled form of narcissism.

  8. Jordan, alas, you’re exactly right.

    We are witnessing the deliberate inversion of reality.

    Aleister Crowely said, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”

    Those times are now here.

  9. Different people (e.g., self-identified transgender people, different flavors of activists, etc.) make very different claims, and while those claims often contradict each other, one should distinguish those cases (instances of disagreement, even if many don’t realize that they people they see as their in-group disagree with them) from cases of self-contradiction – which also happen, of course, but one should not conflate them.

    For example, Lucius Vorenus and Jacques mentioned Jenner, so let’s consider that case.
    Over 2 years ago, he (improbably, she) based his claim of being a woman on allegedly having a female mind (he said “brain” and “soul”, but it seems clear to me he was talking about the mind). Source: http://www.you.co.za/news/bruce-jenner-i-am-a-woman/

    Now, I’m no expert in Jenner’s views, and I don’t know whether Jenner later changed his position. However, his original view – at least, as expressed in the paragraphs I linked to – is coherent, even though I reckon probably false.
    One can separate his core view (at least, as expressed then) into two claims:

    1. Jenner has a female mind.
    2. Having a female mind makes a person a woman.

    That’s a combination of coherent psychological and semantic claims.

  10. It’s a general reply to the thread, meant to address a couple of different points.

    In particular, it indirectly addresses your comment “I’d be happy with someone coherently telling me what transgenders are saying when they proclaim that they have a gender identity of such-and-such.”, etc.
    Of course, it’s only one case not all transgender people or a general case, but if you aim at understanding what transgender people are claiming, have enough time and are willing to dedicate it to the matter, I suggest that you listen to what each of them says separately (not all, of course! But maybe you can pick several), and then look for patterns.

    What leftist thinkers claim is a different matter – or rather, many different matters, depending on the thinker. But they tend to interpret the claims made by transgender people in the context of their own ideologies, and that leads them to mistaken assessments.

    • Angra,

      If we accept Green’s argument (https://ljmgreen.com/2015/11/01/germaine-greer-is-right-about-trans-women/), and I have no clue why one wouldn’t, then your (1) above is false. The farthest you can stretch things is by saying Jenner has the mind of a ‘woman’.

      Now, regarding your general argumentative stance, I don’t think many people think that every person who defends transgender rights (in some form) is incoherent or deluded. Rather, it’s that the farther one goes in a certain frame of argument/mind the closer one comes to being flat-out incoherent. Now, let’s take a (hopefully) uncontroversial example of being incoherent: anyone can be anything they want, at anytime they want, regarding gender and sexuality. Is that even logically or epistemically problematic to you? On this planet, at this time in technological evolution, can you honestly say that one can go from being a pansexual female on Monday, to a bisexual intersex individual on Tuesday, and then a MtF transgender on Wednesday, and finally a privileged cis male on Thursday? If that scenario does not seem absolutely, utterly, hopelessly, and infuriatingly stupid and incoherent to you, then I can only say, “God go with you”. There isn’t anything to argue about because we’re in fundamentally different territory. However, if you think that scenario is incoherent, then at what point for you does the incoherence begin? Is it when someone with XY chromosomes wants to be called the term we use for XX chromosomes, and not just because they want someone to pander to their idiosyncratic use of terminology?

      Also, while we are at it, and using an example gleaned from someone else, can you give me an example of a condition that requires extensive use of hormone therapy and (in many cases) surgery but is not itself a disability?

      The dilemma we have is that there seems to be a real disability that a number of people suffer in which one of the only ways for them to feel normal is to be able to appear to society ,and themselves, like they are a gender/sex that they were not born with/into. Unless one is able to fool society otherwise, then the only way for such people to feel whole (or so it seems) is to stretch the meaning of terms so that society play acts along with you as something that you want to feel.

      To me, this is fine as long as this genuinely helps someone who is genuinely in need and for that brief time where they are in need. However, at no point should the attempt to stretch the meaning of terms be understood to be anything other than what it is.

  11. What is a woman?

    What is a man?

    What are the “identification” criteria?

    Transgender theorists are unable to answer either of these questions.

    It only gets more ludicrous when you take into account that, in some quarters, there is an effort to claim it is possible to be neither a man nor a woman.

    Welcome to the age of confusion. All of it would be funny if only it weren’t actually happening.

  12. Jordan,

    Greer makes a claim about what it is to be a woman, and points out that a surgery does not turn a woman into a man. That is true, but not an objection to either 1. or 2.

    Les Green (i.e., the author of the article you link to) says that “In our society, to be a woman is to have arrived there by a certain route:” and he lists factors such as the name a person was given, the clothes they were made to wear, how they’ve been seen or evaluated, etc., and something about the onset of puberty that is not clear (i.e., it’s not clear what he’s thinking about).

    Now, Green does not specify whether he claims that as an analysis of the concept “woman”, or a claim involving both an analysis of the concept and empirical evidence about women. For example, someone might say that to be made of water is to be composed of H2O, without claiming that the term “water” means “H2O”.
    Depending on how Green intends the claim, my objections would be different, but I do think he’s mistaken. Let me present two scenarios as counter-evidence:

    Scenario 1:

    A female human baby is stolen and raised by chimps, in Africa. She reaches adulthood before contacting humans (extremely improbable, I know, but surely metaphysically possible).
    Now, that adult female human would definitely be mentally ill, but wouldn’t she be almost certainly be a woman, in the usual sense of the term “woman” in present-day American English?
    Granted, Green says “in our society”. Does that mean that his analysis is only applicable to people in our society? Or is it an analysis of either the meaning or at least the necessary referent of the term “woman” in our (well, not mine, but his anyway) linguistic community? If it’s the latter, this scenario seems to show that his claim is false, unless the part about the onset of puberty makes her a woman, but I don’t see any good evidence that that is the case (admittedly, the obscurity of Green’s comment about the onset of puberty makes it difficult for me to be sure).
    Still, maybe it’s only supposed to apply to people in our society, so I will give a second scenario, in order to cover that alternative as well.

    Scenario 2:

    In “The Blank Slate”, Pinker considers the case of some males born without a penis, and raised as girls. Most claimed to be boys, even though they had been raised as girls. I would say that regardless of their path, their claims about themselves were almost certainly true. But let’s consider an alternative scenario: a female baby is raised in US society by some twisted evil surgeons, called a male name, forced to wear male clothes, etc., and even surgically modified to some extent to look more male-like.
    They even threaten her/him (to leave that open for now) not to claim to be a girl, woman, etc., if he/she ever makes any suggestion that he/she will make that claim, etc.

    During puberty, they further use surgery to make them look more male-like and less female-like, etc.
    When he/she is an adult and manages to escape from the evil surgeons, he/she claims to be a woman. Is that claim false?

    I would be inclined to say her claim is almost certainly true (i.e., “almost certainly” would be a proper epistemic probabilistic assessment if the scenario were presented to me as real, and with enough evidence to back up the amount of detail I just gave about it). The whole story is enormously improbable, of course, and the actions of the people raising her/him would be immoral, criminal, etc. However, surely this is also metaphysically possible.

    I could go on and give more scenarios, but before I do so, I would like to ask you whether you find either of them as a persuasive counterexample to Green’s claim (and also Greer’s, in case she made a claim relevantly similar to Green’s, but I do not know whether she did).

    To be clear, I don’t think any of this provides any good reason to think Jenner is a woman. But I just do not believe Green’s central claim is true.

    Due to time constraints and meatspace interference, I will address your other points later. 🙂

  13. Jordan,

    With regard to your point about my general argumentative stance, I wasn’t saying that many people believe that every person who defends transgender rights (in some form) is incoherent or deluded. However, I’m concerned about the risk of concluding that transgender people are being inconsistent due to statements made by different people – who often have very different views, even if they’re part of the same movement.
    Additionally, and leaving aside the matter of consistency, there is the problem of misunderstanding a transgender person’s position that often results if one tries to understand it by reading what other people – committed to one ideology or another – write about them, instead of going to the source. There is so much miscommunication on these matters that I would in general suggest going to the original source whenever possible, and being very cautions about claims made by third parties.

    In re: your scenario “anyone can be anything they want, at anytime they want, regarding gender and sexuality.” You ask “Is that even logically or epistemically problematic to you?”
    Epistemically, sure. A person holding that position is being epistemically irrational.
    Logically?
    Probably, but I would need more info about the specific claims. It seems very probable that the person making that claim is not using the word in their daily life in a way that matches their theory, of course, but that’s not what we usually consider to be an incoherence in a position (i.e., having a false theory about the meaning of a word one uses colloquially does not entail that one has an inconsistent theory, even though it does entail inconsistency when one considers both the theory and the use of the word).

    “On this planet, at this time in technological evolution, can you honestly say that one can go from being a pansexual female on Monday, to a bisexual intersex individual on Tuesday, and then a MtF transgender on Wednesday, and finally a privileged cis male on Thursday?”
    That’s a question about honesty, not about consistency or rationality. I definitely can’t honestly say that, and I’m inclined to think most people probably can’t. I don’t know about everyone, though.

    “If that scenario does not seem absolutely, utterly, hopelessly, and infuriatingly stupid and incoherent to you, then I can only say, “God go with you”. ”
    I’m afraid it takes more than that to infuriate me, but it does seem clearly irrational. Is it incoherent?
    I have to admit I’m not familiar with all of the terminology enough to be sure, in the sense that I’ve seen definitions, but I don’t have an intuitive grasp of all of the terms. I would have to go with the definitions I can find, but they vary considerably.

    Still, let’s see: “Pansexual” seems compatible with “bisexual”, even simultaneously (e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pansexuality), at least by some common definitions of the term. Now, MtF transgender does not seem to be in conflict with either of those, so I guess it’s logically possible to be MtF transgender, pansexual and bisexual simultaneously. But MtF transgender seems incompatible with intersex, and also with cis male, at least simultaneously. However, given that logical possibility demands very little, the question of whether the claim that it’s logically possible that a person changes like that is not so clear. The question is whether the radical changes (including changes in the brain) that would be required for that to happen are compatible with the preservation of identity through time. I’m inclined to think so: science fiction shows weirder metamorphoses, and they seem at least metaphysically possible.

    That said, your statement may have an implicit clause that that would happen without metamorphosis or even surgery, and in that case, I conclude that there is contradiction between being intersex and being male, at least in the most usual sense of the terms.

    Is it when someone with XY chromosomes wants to be called the term we use for XX chromosomes, and not just because they want someone to pander to their idiosyncratic use of terminology?

    No, it’s definitely not that. I reckon it’s possible (logically, metaphysically, and very probably physically) that a person has XY chromosomes, but is a female human being, and a woman. Here’s a probable case of a female human being who is a girl and will be a woman, but has XY chromosomes: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2680992/

    Also, while we are at it, and using an example gleaned from someone else, can you give me an example of a condition that requires extensive use of hormone therapy and (in many cases) surgery but is not itself a disability?

    I don’t have any examples. But it’s unclear to me. It “requires” that for what purpose? Treatment? If so, it’s an illness. Whether it’s a disability, I’m not sure. It may depend on the case, the extent of the problem, etc. Do you have examples in mind?

    In any case, I have no interest in stretching the meaning of any terms. I’m interested in learning more about what their meaning, and meaning depends on usage, so I observe how people (myself included) use them intuitively, come up with hypothetical scenarios, discuss and ask about them, etc.

    • Angra,

      To clear up any confusion, I’m strictly concerned with the fact that Green’s definition both adds an empirically obvious dimension to the meaning of womanhood and is also more robust than other accounts. It isn’t a final account because he seems to deny a connection between sex and gender (or at least, doesn’t reiterate the not insignificant connection obvious to everyone). I don’t have a final account, though it’s likely no one ever will. What I do have is great justification for gender-female being a cluster-concept with both a path dependency and a not insignificant connection to a quite typical chromosomal profile.

      Now, your present argument falls apart because you assumed that the only coherence under discussion is the type concerning definitions that are intended to capture all (or subsume all) metaphysical possibilities. Green’s account is not vulnerable to counterexamples of the type you mention because he (nor anyone else I am aware of) isn’t saying he can actually parse the vague, anomalous, borderline cases. Rather, it’s the regression to the mean (or whatever) that we are concerned with. And the incoherence I am after is clearly evident in the uncontroversial case I put forward. My supreme gender+sex bending superfluid organism (SBSO) is likely metaphysically possible (who knows whether it is physically possible in this universe), but that doesn’t mean we have a shred of evidence/justification for stretching the use of our language to account for it in the sense of making room for it in our everyday use of language. No one can you stop you from defining “male”, “female”, and “intersex” in such a way that language coheres in the case of SBSO, but then such language is worthless because it becomes excessively amorphous, redundant, meaningless, etc. If you can’t see this, then consider SBSO’s cousin SBSO2. They (SBSO2) are exactly like their cousin except that they undergo all of this switching between identities within the span of 1 minute. Only a fool would say that a legitimate transformation (with those 4 stages) occurred and that SBSO2 is what they claim they are. Or better yet, and in keeping with one of the main points of the OP, let’s say SBSO2 thinks they have gone from being a genetic male to a genetic female and that no ultra technologically advanced surgery has occurred within that minute. I figured you weren’t big on miracles, but if you think it makes sense for that to be coherent then you’d be quite the fan.

      As to whether Jenner is a gender-female, it would help if a brain scan showed that he had the brain of your run-of-the-mill woman. Is it possible? (Men and women have different brains. We can predict their identities from brain scans with an accuracy rate approaching 90-95%). Yes, because we have transgender studies showing that it’s not sufficiently infrequent to be considered a non-starter. However, couple that requirement with the path dependency dimension and the connection to a chromosomal profile and it’s not straight forward at all to say Jenner is a gender-woman instead of a gender-‘woman’. What you have to show is that the more one expands the boundaries of gender and sex to sweep up all types of anomalies (and cases where one is flipping a coin as to whether the person is this or that) the difficulty of obtaining coherence remains stable instead of increasing. We wouldn’t put up with someone changing their legal name, gender, or sex each day (it wouldn’t take long for a judge or clerk to just say “get the **** out of my courthouse”). In the same way, we have justification to not put up with allowing our linguistic framework for gender and sex to be infinitely malleable.

      Lastly, if you think that it is an illness then I’m fine with that. As long as you find it to be in some sense unhealthy, then it’s not a problem.

  14. Regarding the case of that person with XY and a female phenotype, why think that he/she is a female and will be a woman? You seem to have a mixed bag of sexual traits.

    The article states, “Given the young age of our patient, even the high FSH levels cannot reflect accurately the potential for pubertal function and fertility.” That would be keystone for me, for I understand the sexes in terms of their reproduction faculties. Yet, that’s precisely the information we don’t have right now.

  15. Catholic Hulk,

    Regarding female minds, one way to put it is as follows:
    a. There is mental sexual dimorphism in humans.
    b. Female minds are those characteristic of females.

    So, I’d be inclined to say a female mind is the sort of mind that is characteristic of females (in this case, of course, I’m talking about human females). Perhaps, if “characteristic” is not clear enough, one could add “normally”.

    But as usual, giving an exceptionless definition in terms of other terms is notoriously difficult, and in practice, terms are almost always defined ostensibly. So, I’ll go with an example to further clarify.

    Let’s consider, for example, lions. There are differences between male and female lions (you can see this if you watch a few documentaries, read a good book, etc.).
    For example, generally male lions are bigger, usually have a mane (but not the lions in certain region), have a penis, etc. Also, male lions fight for access to females, kill lion cubs that aren’t theirs, etc. Female lions do not do any of that.
    So, some of the differences between female and male lions are not mental (e.g., manes, penises, etc.), whereas others are clearly mental, since male lions and female lions behave quite differently in several ways, which is good evidence that they have different preferences/predispositions, in many cases intent when they act, etc. Maybe they have some different mental capabilities; maybe not. I don’t know enough about lions to tell. Maybe they have some different perceptions; maybe not. But they at least have considerably different predispositions in several different respects.
    In short, there is sexual dimorphism in lions, including mental sexual dimorphism. A male lion mind and a female lion mind are different (and of course, so is the brain, in subtle ways that would correspond to those mental differences. Though at this point science hasn’t discovered the specific correlations, we do know they have mental sexual dimorphism).

    As it turns out, the example generalizes to pretty much any species of animals that normally have two different sexes: there is behavior that is characteristic of males, and behavior that is characteristic of females. To the extent the animals in question have minds (always or nearly so), that gives us sexual dimorphism in minds, just as there is sexual dimorphism in other things.

    The claim that there are human female minds and human male minds – i.e., is in conflict with at least some theories prevalent among the left. But it’s most certainly a coherent claim. And I would say it’s also a true claim. Now, I would say that the claim that Jenner has a female mind is epistemically unjustified and improbable (how improbable depends, of course, on the information available to the person making the assessment). But it’s also a coherent claim, just as it would be coherent to claim that there is a lion that has male sexual organs and a female mind (due to some abnormality in its development, or whatever). Now, Jenner does not seem to claim his mind is entirely a female mind, but close to that (perhaps, with some normal male characteristics, but mostly female). That’s also coherent – and again, probably false.

    • So here it looks like you’re explaining or defining what a female mind is in terms of behaviour, perhaps those somehow caused by or correlated with the brain, though I’m not too sure about that last clause. So the human female mind is …what? Would you like to understand that in terms of behaviour, too? Perhaps high heels and skirts? Perhaps certain qualities, like motherliness?

  16. Catholic Hulk,

    Regarding the person with XY chromosomes, having a mixed of characteristics is not enough to make a person not a man or a woman, of course (e.g., a woman can have a beard). But moreover, XY chromosomes is not even a phenotypical male characteristic. It’s what normally causes the development of male sexual characteristics in humans.
    Now, at the age of four, the person still showed no male phenotypical characteristics at all. She has a uterus, ovaries, a vagina (a real vagina, real ovaries, uterus, etc.), whereas she has no penis, testicles, etc.).
    There is of course also no indication that she has a male mind – at least, there is no mention of male-like behavior, and given the rest of the phenotype and hormone levels, a male mind would be extremely improbable.
    It seems to me it’s more probable that this will continue into adulthood, and she will be a woman. At this point, she is a girl.
    I don’t think reproductive faculties will be central. If she turns out to be infertile but the rest of her development continues as to now (i.e., female phenotype), she will still be a woman.
    Now, again, I’m not certain that she will be a woman. I’m saying it’s probable. But in any case, in order to make my point I don’t need an actual case. For example, metaphysical possibility suffices. And it seems pretty clear to me that an XY woman is metaphysically possible. In fact, given that my point was in response to a question about the meaning of terms, logical possibility suffices. And it’s logically possible that she will be a woman.

    • I do not here doubt that that DNA is *a* cause of those male characteristics, but it is still itself a characteristic of males.

      I grant that the person in question might have had what looks like a vagina and whatever other organ, which, in ordinary circumstances, is sufficent to conclude that this person is a female, but not when they have XY chromosomes. That’s a mix bag of characteristics; and this person has the sort of blood that should have gave him/her male sex organs, so something is wayward here. Because I understand males and females in terms of their reproductive potentials, I resist calling this person a female.

      I also don’t grant, for that reason, that these female-like organs are real female organs. If her female-like parts are essentially sterile qua kind, then they lack the female form. It’d be as if I were born with a third arm-like appendage that looks exactly like an arm but had no potential to function as an arm. This appendage wouldn’t be an arm, properly speaking. It would be a deformity.

  17. Catholic Hulk,

    I used the example of different behavior as a way of showing that there are differences between the minds of female and male lions, and then pointed out that the same phenomenon is found in pretty much any species of animals that normally have two different sexes: there is behavior that is characteristic of males, and behavior that is characteristic of females (on second thought, maybe “mental sexual dimorphism” is not the proper description, because I meant to include all mental differences between the sexes, including differences in sexual attraction, etc.).

    So, that allows me to give ostensive definitions of female and male minds, just as I can give ostensive definitions of, say, male lions, female lions, male horses, female horses, etc.
    For example, if you ask me – say – what a lion is, I would say “one of those” – and point at lions -, and “not one of those” – and point at things that are not lions.
    And if you ask me what a female lion is, I’ll do the same (i.e., point at female lions), and the same for male lions.
    Just as there are differences between male and female lions that are not mental differences, there are mental differences.

    What is a human female mind?
    Well, it’s a mind characteristic of female humans.
    It is to be expected from evolution that there are such differences. But that does not tell us what the specific differences are, though we can make some educated guesses based on what we could expect from evolution and/or anecdotal evidence, and those can then be tested. For example, one can properly guess males likely are more prone to taking risks; males are likely more attracted to females than to other males; females are likely to be choosier when it comes to sexual partners, whereas males are likely to have a greater inclination to have sex with multiple partners even if each is not particularly attractive; females are likely to be particularly choosy when it comes to cheating, etc. But those guesses can then be tested, and one shouldn’t be sure they’re true without good evidence.

    Of course, high heels is not one of the differences. A greater propensity to care for young children may well be one of the differences. But in any case, what the differences are is a matter for (mostly; there is some specific evidence already) future study of human psychology. That sort of study is very likely to be hampered by leftist beliefs in some sort of “tabula rasa”, beliefs that all differences in behavior between human females and males result from the cultural environment and are neither innate nor part of a normal development of either females or males, etc. – or by the threat of reactions from people who hold such beliefs. But eventually, it will likely be done. As of now, we do have evidence of some differences, but much more needs to be tested.

    That aside, of course sometimes an animal can have some male traits (e.g., a lioness with a mane), but they don’t become males because of that, and the same goes for animals with some female traits. It depends on factors such as the number of traits, and which traits we’re talking about. Our intuitive understanding of the words would then allow us to classify the animal as male or female (or neither, if the traits are too mixed up, etc.).

    A similar story can be said about human males and females, and also about men and women. For example, a female adult human with a beard has some male-like traits, but she is still female, and a woman.
    Similarly, a gay man is a man and male even he has some female mental traits (and probably, much of his sexual preferences and behavior are still male-like, e.g., in terms of preferences for more sexual partners, sex with strangers, etc.), and so is a man with abnormally large breasts, or a female-like voice. But introduce more changes (in the mind or in some other traits), and eventually then the matter becomes murkier. It’s a matter of debate when it becomes murkier. Perhaps, in some cases different people use the words differently, even if they’re all competent English speakers.

    Anyway, Jenner’s position seem to be that his mind is a female mind, and that that makes him a woman, in spite of other, male traits that he also has. That seems to be a conjunction of a claim about his own mind, and a claim (albeit implicit) about the meaning or at least the referent of the word “woman” (and maybe some other claims). His position is probably false, but it seems coherent.

    • That seems like a wordy reply for “I dunno”.

      You explain or define the feminine mind in terms of behavioural stereotypes, but you need grounding for these behaviours in something other than culture. You need a mind or brain that points toward or is geared toward those behaviours, no? That would be what separates transgender “men” from tomboys, no?

    • I’d also like to point out that what you’re saying here doesn’t seem to be much different than what I said. To quote myself in that same post where I asked for a coherent answer, I said, ” It seems to reduce itself to stereotypes about the sexes, those that feminists have been attacking since the 60s.”

      What is the difference between a transgender “woman” and a man who is predominately feminine and likes to do stereotypically women things?

  18. Angra Mainyu,

    In response to everyone’s natural question (what is a “female mind?”), you answer:

    “I’d be inclined to say a female mind is the sort of mind that is characteristic of females (in this case, of course, I’m talking about human females). Perhaps, if “characteristic” is not clear enough, one could add “normally”.”

    But how is that an answer? It seems to me that’s like saying a kangaroo mind is the sort of mind that is characteristic of kangaroos. Fine. But what then is a kangaroo? So we’re back to square one. And likewise here too, because one now wants to ask you: well, what’s a woman?

    No one pushing the transgender nonsense can squarely answer that question,which is why I asked it. They can’t adequately answer it, because, if they did, they’d be forced to admit that a biological man can’t be a woman, and a biological woman can’t be a man. So instead they hide behind a bunch of mumbo jumbo to create the appearance that the issue is very subtle and complex, when in reality it’s pure nonsense.

    Saying that an XY woman seems “metaphysically possible” to you doesn’t really say much. To me, qualifying things that way is really just smuggling in the conclusion you want by tacking on an adjective, yet without telling us what that really means here. For instance, I suppose that, in some sense of the term, it is metaphysically possible that I am indeed your great-great-grandmother. But does the metaphysical possibility of reincarnation and so forth really tell us anything about you and me here and now? I don’t think so. And I don’t think your use of metaphysical possibility in this instance is really any more enlightening.

    As for your final remark regarding logical possibility, I am sorry if I have simply missed your point. However, after mulling it over a bit, I’m again left scratching my head. It is logically possible that tomorrow (or some other time in the future) you will become a kangaroo. I think the only reasonable response to that fact is to say: yes, but so what? Doesn’t whatever you mean by logical possibility matter equally little in this context?

    • That Single Individual,

      You ask “But how is that an answer? It seems to me that’s like saying a kangaroo mind is the sort of mind that is characteristic of kangaroos. Fine. But what then is a kangaroo? So we’re back to square one. And likewise here too, because one now wants to ask you: well, what’s a woman?”
      Yes, I would say that a kangaroo mind is the sort of mind that is characteristics of kangaroos. That’s a good definition. What is a kangaroo?
      As I already mentioned, in nearly all cases, we define the words that we use to describe the world around us not by definitions in terms of other words, but ostensibly.
      So, if you asked me what a kangaroo is, I will point to examples of kangaroos and say “one of those”, and then point to examples of things that are not kangaroos and say “not one of those” (I could post links to pictures, but I can tell from experience that my post would likely be caught in some anti-spam filter for a while, and would only appear on the site several hours later. So, we’ll have to do without the links).
      So, what’s a woman?
      Well, it’s one of those!
      And what’s a man?
      One of those!

      Now, the fact that one defines things ostensibly does not mean that all of the examples one uses end up belonging to the category. There is room for error. If someone asks me about a wolf, I might inadvertently point to a coywolf among several wolves. But ostensive definitions are generally good – and, indeed, is the normal way in which we define terms describing the world around us (math and things like that might be more complicated).

      “Saying that an XY woman seems “metaphysically possible” to you doesn’t really say much. To me, qualifying things that way is really just smuggling in the conclusion you want by tacking on an adjective, yet without telling us what that really means here. ”
      You are making assumptions about my intentions and about my views that turn out to be false. When I say an XY woman is metaphysically possible, I mean just that (in the usual sense of the expression in present-day philosophy; if you want more precision, let’s say I meant possible as counterfactual), and I said it because I reckoned it was an adequate point to make in context.

      “For instance, I suppose that, in some sense of the term, it is metaphysically possible that I am indeed your great-great-grandmother.”
      No, it’s not, at least not in the usual sense of the term in philosophy (see above), which is the sense I was using.

      “But does the metaphysical possibility of reincarnation and so forth really tell us anything about you and me here and now?”
      It’s not metaphysically possible. It’s epistemically possible – albeit enormously improbable.

      “It is logically possible that tomorrow (or some other time in the future) you will become a kangaroo.”
      I don’t think so, no. The metamorphoses in that case would be too vast to preserve identity. Of course, if you include in the theory a claim about the meaning of identity, yes, the claim is possible, but then we’re no longer fixing the meaning of the words. I was.

      “I think the only reasonable response to that fact is to say: yes, but so what? Doesn’t whatever you mean by logical possibility matter equally little in this context?”
      It seems you were not following the exchange. Let me explain: Jordan presented a scenario to me, and asked me whether it was in my assessment logically or epistemically problematic. He further asked “However, if you think that scenario is incoherent, then at what point for you does the incoherence begin? Is it when someone with XY chromosomes wants to be called the term we use for XX chromosomes, and not just because they want someone to pander to their idiosyncratic use of terminology?”
      So, essentially, Jordan’s central question here – after the “However”, and as I understand it – is whether the assertion that a person with XY chromosomes is a man is incoherent. In this context, “incoherent” seems to mean “either meaningless or contradictory”. I answered negatively to that, by pointing out to the logical possibility of a woman with XY chromosomes (even when fixing the meaning of the words), and also to the metaphysical possibility of a woman with XY chromosomes. I further said that probably, it was also physically possible (or if you like, nomologically possible), though that was a more tentative (i.e., “probably”) assessment.
      I didn’t need anything beyond logical possibility (while keeping the meaning of the words fixed) in order to address the question about incoherence, but I thought the points about metaphysical and probable physical possibility might also be of interest to Jordan and/or to some of the readers. But if you don’t find them interesting, fair enough. Different people have different interests.

  19. Catholic Hulk,

    If that seems like a wordy reply for “I dunno” to you, this seems hopeless. I will try again, but are you trying to understand, rather than debunk whatever I might say?

    What I do not know is all or most of the specific differences between male and female minds. I have information about some of them. For example, human males very probably are more prone to take risks than females, and also more inclined to have sex with strangers. But in general, I don’t know them. It’s a matter for future research in human psychology. Since that is true, I do not see how pointing out the truth would somehow be a problem in my posts.
    In any case, that does not mean I do not know how to define the concept of a female or a male mind. I already defined them, using ostensive definitions when needed, and to an extent that a reader (with sufficient background) who is trying to understand should have no trouble.

    Of course, I’m talking about a mind (or brain, if you like) that is predisposed to those behaviors. This should be obvious by now. Anyway, it might be that some of those predispositions need some social environment around them in order to develop, just as – say – a human predisposition to acquire language (if there is such predisposition) requires some social environment to develop properly. But that is not to say that the predispositions in question are culturally relative. Culture can influence how a human mind develops, and might even interfere with the normal development of some traits. But in general and normal cases, one could expect to find female and male traits to hold cross-culturally.

    Regarding your claim about stereotypes about the sexes, I’m not at all suggesting the stereotypes are correct. I’m saying there are differences between female and male minds. But I’m not saying the differences that the stereotypes indicate are real. In fact, some clearly aren’t. Stereotypes may develop as a result of real biological differences, but also as a result of differences that are entirely the result of culture. Moreover, even when there is some real biological basis, they may go further than what the actual difference is and distort the actual facts. So, I’m in no way endorsing the stereotypes. As for feminists, some have not only been rightfully attacking stereotypes that are unwarranted – or even clearly false at this point -, but also endorsing a “tabula rasa” theory, and indeed claiming or implying that there are no female and male human minds. So, if you ask me about their views, I would say they are mistaken about that.

    You ask “What is the difference between a transgender “woman” and a man who is predominately feminine and likes to do stereotypically women things?”.
    I haven’t even even tried to give a general answer to the question of what a transgender woman is (or whether there are any). I was trying to explain Jenner’s claims to you. Some other people who identify as transgender make similar claims, whereas others make very different ones. Moreover, they also might be very different from each other (claims aside).

    But for example, regarding Jenner, I don’t know that he likes to do many “stereotypically women things”, but if his claims are correct (as I said, in my assessment, they probably aren’t), then Jenner has a female mind.

    Is Jenner a woman?

    I would need more information about the extent of the differences between male and female minds in humans in order to tell for sure. But I’m inclined to think under that assumption, she’s probably a woman (I think, again, that the assumption is probably false).

    On the other hand, a man who is “predominately feminine and likes to do stereotypically women things” is a man – since, well, in your question you stipulate he’s a man. I guess this “predominately feminine” does not go far enough to say that he has a female mind. Else, we disagree about whether a person with, say, male sexual organs but a female mind would be a man or a woman. I think (probably) that she would be a woman. But I say “probably” because I would need more info about the extent of the differences between male and female minds to be sure. Still, unless the differences are minuscule (unlikely, given evolution), I’m leaning towards the assessment that she’d probably be a woman, at least by my intuitive grasp of the words “man” and “woman”.

    Now, sometimes, different people (even competent speakers of a language) use words differently in ways that do not break communication down in normal cases, due to the overlap of the referents. It might be that a significant number of English speakers uses “man” and “woman” in ways such that a person with male sexual organs but a female mind is a man, and others in ways such that that person would be a woman. By asking different people about different scenarios, I have some anecdotal evidence supporting this hypothesis. However, it’s rather weak evidence, because most people are already too strongly committed to what their ideology says in re: transgender cases that they’ll just jump to trying to debunk whatever they intuitively smell as in conflict with it, rather than understand scenarios one might present, and will often not even understand the question and/or scenario. Such is life.

    • Angra Mainyu,

      Your reply to my post I think illustrates my main point.

      Your response initially looks careful and precise (and I don’t deny it was patient), but really it is smoke in mirrors.

      I don’t want to dwell on the way you are parsing possibility. I have enough experience with analytic metaphysics to know that distinctions like those between “nomological” and “metaphysical” possibility get murky very quick, and no one really knows what they’re talking about once you begin pushing them on it. But I’ll leave that to the side, since it’s irrelevant to what I want to emphasize here.

      Recall that my first question to you was what a woman is. You didn’t adequately answer. All you did was make a general remark about ostensive definition, as if that clearly applies in the case of transgenderism. But are we really to believe that classifying whether something is a kangaroo is the same as classifying whether, say, Bruce Jenner is a woman?

      I don’t think the two situations are at all the same, and I don’t care how much mumbo jumbo analytic metaphysics or philosophy of language someone deploys to suggest that they are. The fact that someone has to do so only makes my point. A child can see that the cases are different, and yet transgender activists persist anyway. This is why sometimes people form the impression that professional philosophy is useless or even degenerate. I’m not saying that reputation is always deserved, but in this instance, it seems justified. Leave it to academic philosophers to try to justify transgenderism by appealing to Saul Kripke or David Lewis or whatever. It’s sad.

      Step back and bracket all of the asinine theories and empty rhetoric that the intellectuals keep insisting is somehow going to shed light on the mystery of transgenderism. I’ll paint the scene:

      A man and his daughter are walking together down the street in LA. Jenner approaches in high heels, a dress, and a wig. The man points and says to his daughter, “Look, sweetie, it’s a woman.”

      The daughter, thinking her dad is teasing, says, “No, Dad! That’s a man in a dress.”

      The dad replies, with the air of authority and wisdom, “No, sweetie. That’s a woman, because he has a female mind.”

      “A female mind?” the daughter asks. “What does that mean?”

      The dad thinks about it for a moment. “Well, you see, it means that Bruce, er, Caitlyn, says so. Caitlyn is a woman because shes says she has a female mind.”

      Strip away all the rhetoric of your position, and that’s where this really leads.

      I noticed that in reply to a post after my own, you said that you need to know more about the specific facts surrounding Jenner to know whether he indeed has a female mind.

      I would encourage you to stop indulging this kind of sick thinking, and encourage others to do the same.

      Thinking that way is confusion.

  20. Catholic Hulk,

    DNA is normally a characteristic of human males, but is not part of the human male phenotype (by the way, even some phenotypical male traits would not be definitive. For example, let’s say a person has a vagina, a female mind, a uterus, and ovaries, but also has a beard. That would be a woman. It seems just as clear to me in a case in which the only male trait so far is the genes, that she’s a girl).

    The person in the study seems to have developed up to 4 and a half years old as a human female with a normal phenotype. She has a vagina, a uterus, ovaries, and very, very likely a female brain. It’s improbable that as an adult, she will not be a woman. But that’s all I’m saying: “improbable”. I’m not going beyond that. If you do not share my tentative probabilistic assessment, okay we disagree about that.

    That aside, that person does not have just what “looks like” a vagina. She has a vagina. It looks and functions like a vagina. And she also has a uterus. And ovaries. And almost certainly a female mind as well, given that testosterone levels were always low, that there were no reports of male-like behavior, etc. Sterility would not change that. For example, her vagina functions as a vagina, and in fact, she does not need to be fertile in order for that to be so (vaginas do not result in fertility). I get you believe otherwise, but that seems to be an assessment based on some Aristotelian-like or Thomistic-like theory that in this case conflicts with the regular usage of the terms. So, we disagree about it, but even if I granted your claims for the sake of the argument, my point in my reply to Jordan would not require physical possibility. It’s surely coherent to say that that person will be a woman, despite the XY chromosomes.

    P.S: Perhaps, we won’t have to wait too much to have more evidence about what will happen: the paper is from May 15, 2009, and describes her at the age of four and a half. The collection of data probably happened in 2008, so it seems very likely she is 12 years old now. Whatever the outcome, it surely is of scientific interest to do a follow up study after puberty, so hopefully by 2019 or 2020 there will be a significant update. If not, well such is life.

  21. After reading the rest of the thread, it appears Angra is not terribly interested in figuring out what might be the best way to proceed with regards to language use (which is assumed to entail meaning), but is rather currently more interested in the anthropology of meaning determination. The outsiders perspective as it were. The too easy response, to someone holding that position in this thread, is to agree to tell a transgender rights advocate and/or a transgender individual that you aren’t particularly concerned about whether language issue X (that they are presently concerned with) should go route A or route B on policy #348 up for vote, but rather are simply an anthropologist examining the landscape.

  22. Here’s something I’ve been wondering: Will the left’s outright capitulation to trans ideology have any noticeable effects on election outcomes and other matters of practical politics?

    On the one hand, I think this stuff is so esoteric–and, given the relative paucity of trans individuals, remote from the ordinary experience of citizens–that most mainstream left leaning folks will just go with it. Many will partly recognize the incoherence, but accept that it’s now part of their intellectual ecosystem and cannot be contested without personal cost. Thus, they’ll tell themselves a story about the moral arc of the universe, pat themselves on the back for being kindly and beneficent, and, when suitable, use the issue as a club to beat on perceived cultural inferiors. The standard line here is: “Yeah, I don’t really understand this stuff but, you know, it takes all kinds, Besides, it doesn’t affect me any.”

    On the other hand, the margin of victory in elections is often small. And coalition building is hard. While I don’t expect this issue to generate many conversions to ideological conservatism, it may alienate enough left-leaning voters to have an effect. I take myself to be a representative example. In terms of political participation, I’m pretty reliably left (though I don’t accept “progressive” or “pc” ideology). But now that trans ideology has colonized my political home, as it were, I’m inclined to just withdraw from political participation. Perhaps my philosophically motivated refusal to accept an incoherent position makes me an outlier. But there must be other folks with my sentiments.

    • I don’t know.

      While I’m sure there are other folks like you. But then again, my impression (looking from a distance, though, so my info is limited) is that if a politician seeking leftist votes (at least in American cities) takes a stance against transgender ideology, they’ll probably be the target of a concerted demonization campaign that will cost them their elections and their careers if they don’t apologize – and even worse if they have any weakness in their past that can be used to target them.
      Maybe even failure to adhere to transgender ideology when repeatedly prompted (even without actually opposing it) would be too risky. So, from a purely strategical perspective, at least in most cases it’s in their interest at least not to oppose transgender ideology, and to endorse it if publicly challenged.

  23. Angra,
    You said: “The claim that there are human female minds and human male minds – i.e., is in conflict with at least some theories prevalent among the left. But it’s most certainly a coherent claim. And I would say it’s also a true claim.”

    Yes, it’s coherent and true. But it’s incoherent to say that having a female mind _even though that’s the only ‘female’ thing about you_ makes you a woman. Maybe having a female mind is sufficient for being a woman if ‘having a female mind’ means ‘being a woman with the kind of mind women tend to have’. But that’s not what the trans people are saying. They’re saying that _merely_ having that kind of mind makes you a woman. A woman is a female human being. Female humans are relevantly like female dogs or elephants; they’re members of a species with a certain natural sexual role. (If you’re interested in how people use words, I’m pretty sure this is what most people have always meant by ‘woman’ or ‘female human being’, or what they’d agree to on reflection…) It’s incoherent to think that just having a certain kind of mind, regardless of your natural sexual role, is sufficient for you to have a certain natural sexual role. I’m sorry I haven’t followed everything in this thread. But is there really any meaning we can come up with for ‘woman’ other than ‘female human being’, or any meaning for ‘female’ that isn’t about natural sexual role or capacity or something like that? And these just aren’t purely or even fundamentally mental properties.

    • Jacques,

      I don’t believe that it’s incoherent to say that having a female mind – even though that’s the only ‘female’ thing about you_ makes you a woman.
      In fact, I believe it’s probably true, though that is tentative for the reasons I’ve been explaining in my exchanges with Jordan and Catholic Hulk (also, I think Jenner and at least most people who have male sexual organs but claim to be women probably have male minds too, even if perhaps with some female-like traits, and are probably men; this is an empirical matter.)
      In order for the claim to be incoherent, it would have to entail a contradiction, but it does not seem to (or be meaningless, but it’s surely not so).
      Before I go on, though, I think we should address the question of coherence of hypotheses about the meaning of the words.

      Let’s consider the following claim:

      T1: If an adult human being has a functional vagina, uterus and ovaries, then that is a woman, using “woman” in the most usual sense of the term in English, and given the actual facts about the world.

      Let’s say that person A claims that T1 is true, but person B claims that T1 is false.
      It seems to me that both A and B are supporting a coherent theory, even one of them is false.
      Now, it might be said that actually, the one who has the false theory is also being incoherent, since that person also uses the word “woman” in the colloquial sense when they’re not defending their theory, and that that usage contradicts their own theory about the matter. But while it is probably true (but not certainly; the person may actually have an unusual understanding of the term) that there would be an inconsistency between the usage of the term in other contexts by the person who has the wrong theory, and the theory, the view that they express when they defend the theory is coherent. In philosophy, debates about the meaning of terms is frequent, and usually both sides debate coherently.

      That aside, I will address your key points.

      You say:

      A woman is a female human being.

      And
      but is there really any meaning we can come up with for ‘woman’ other than ‘female human being’,…

      Okay, so the assertion “A woman is a female human being.” seems to be in this context a claim about the meaning of the term “woman”, rather than a weaker claim that necessarily, a woman is a female human being (e.g., water is necessarily H2O, I think, but “water” does not mean “H2O”, and surely it’s not incoherent to claim that scientists got it wrong and water is not H2O). Also, context indicates that it’s a claim about the meaning of the word “woman”. But if I got that part wrong and you did not mean to make a claim about meaning, please let me know, and in that case, I would ask how it might be incoherent to deny that a woman is a female human being.

      So, I’ll try to assess whether the claim – so understood – is true.
      First, there is a technical definitions of “female”, which is about gamete size. Clearly, in that sense, the claim would be false. That’s obvious if people have always meant the same by “woman”, since the term “woman” predates any knowledge of gametes, and then no English speaker even had the concept of a gamete. But even if the word “woman” changed its meaning (which you don’t believe, and I don’t claim), the statement that there are no gametes and scientists got it wrong is consistent, and so is the statement that the gametes of women are bigger than those of men and scientists claim otherwise because of some conspiracy, etc. (they’re false statements, but consistent).
      Similarly, if “female” is defined in terms of chromosomes (which is not the usual definition in science, but just to cover the basis), then the claim that “woman” means “female human being” is also clearly false.

      So, I take it you did not mean to give any technical definition of “female” here, but rather, you went with an ostensive definition – or you have a different technical definition in mind?

      Jacques,

      I don’t believe that it’s incoherent to say that having a female mind – even though that’s the only ‘female’ thing about you_ makes you a woman.
      In fact, I believe it’s probably true, though that is tentative for the reasons I’ve been explaining in my exchanges with Jordan and Catholic Hulk (also, I think Jenner and at least most people who have male sexual organs but claim to be women probably have male minds too, even if perhaps with some female-like traits, and are probably men; this is an empirical matter.)
      In order for the claim to be incoherent, it would have to entail a contradiction, but it does not seem to (or be meaningless, but it’s surely not so). Of course, if you can derive a contradiction from what I’m going to say below, I will be persuaded and change my mind.

      Before I go on, though, I think I should address the question of coherence of hypotheses about the meaning of the words.

      Let’s consider the following statement:

      T1: If an adult human being has a functional vagina, uterus and ovaries, then that is a woman, using “woman” in the most usual sense of the term in English, and given the actual facts about the world.

      Let’s say that person A claims that T1 is true, but person B claims that T1 is false.
      It seems to me that both A and B are supporting a coherent theory, even one of them is false.
      Now, it might be said that actually, the one who has the false theory is also being incoherent, since that person also uses the word “woman” in the colloquial sense when they’re not defending their theory, and that that usage contradicts their own theory about the matter. But while it is probably true (but not certainly; the person may actually have a mistaken understanding of the term, and misuse it coherently in colloquial contexts) that there would be an inconsistency between the usage of the term in other contexts by the person who has the wrong theory, and the theory, the view that they express when they defend the theory is coherent. In philosophy, debates about the meaning of terms is frequent, and usually both sides debate coherently.

      That aside, I will address your key points:

      You say:

      A woman is a female human being.

      And
      but is there really any meaning we can come up with for ‘woman’ other than ‘female human being’, any meaning for ‘female’ that isn’t about natural sexual role or capacity or something like that?
      I take it you mean “adult female human being” (else, counterexamples are easy in my view, but let me know if you want to leave it without the addition; it won’t make a difference to the counterexamples I’m going to offer, anyway).
      Now, there is a very common technical meaning of “female” that is about the size of the gametes. However, under that meaning, the claim that “woman” means “female human being” would be false. That’s obvious if people have always meant the same by “woman”, since the term “woman” predates any knowledge of gametes, and then no English speaker even had the concept of a gamete. But leaving the past aside, the statement that there are no gametes and scientists got it wrong is consistent, and so is the statement that the gametes of women are bigger than those of men and scientists claim otherwise because of some conspiracy, etc. (they’re false statements, but consistent).

      But you’re not talking about technical meaning, so fair enough, that’s no objection.

      The way I see it, the term “woman” is not defined in terms of other terms, like “female human being”. Rather, “woman”, like at least nearly every noun we use colloquially to describe the world around us (math terms and the like might or might not be more complicated, but it’s a different issue so I’m leaving that aside), is defined ostensively. If you asked me to define “woman”, I would point at women and say “one of those”, and I would point at entities that aren’t women and say “not one of those”. If you asked me about “man”, I would do the same (pointing perhaps at myself too, since it’s a handy example). Well, probably I would do that. There are circumstances in which a dictionary definition of a colloquial term is useful as a means of introducing a person to a concept, but it’s a shortcut, and one should not expect that the definition would capture common usage without exceptions: it’s an approximation.

      Granted, when one points at cases that seems clear and says “one of those”, one might make a mistake. But that’s not an objection to ostensive definitions, and that is in general how terms are defined. In fact, that’s how terms (not just “woman”) have been defined historically, well before dictionaries even existed.

      As for “female” and “human being”, also in general (and technical meaning aside) they are defined ostensively.

      When there is a claim that “X” means “Y”, my way to test it would be to consider hypothetical scenarios and see whether I can find exceptions. If not, the claim is supported, and the longer I try and fail to find exceptions, the more evidence I get in support of the claim. Now, what if I find what seems to me like a clear counterexample, but I find other people who say otherwise? Then, I would have to assess whether it’s likely that I got it wrong or that the other person got it wrong, or that the term is used by different competent speakers differently, etc., but preliminarily, I will give more weight to my understanding in most cases (I think it’s reasonable based on experience).

      If you think I should assess the matter differently, I would ask why, and how you’d go about assessing it. For now, I will proceed. The claim is:

      C1: A woman is an adult female human being.

      I’m looking for counterexamples. Here’s what I find:

      1. Commander T’Pol (from “Star Trek: Enterprise”) seems to be one. Granted, she’s not real, but we’re assessing meaning, not actuality. As I undertand the words, T’pol is a woman, but she’s not a human being.

      2. Body swaps, which happen in several movies, TV shows, books, etc., involving a man or a woman.
      Now, in these cases, the result is a man in a female body, and a woman in a male body. It’s not entirely clear that this is a counterexample to C1, or to the claim that “female” is about natural sexual role, etc. (though the “natural” part complicates matters). In any case, this results in women with male sexual organs, and men with female sexual organs, and while they’re not real, they’re conceptually possible.

      3. Hypothetical brain swap (not like body swap, because here the brain goes to another rest of the body). Here, too, it seems to me that if we took a brain of a woman, and put that brain into a male human body, that woman would still be alive, even though she would have male sexual organs. It’s not clear to me that “female human being” and “male human being” are terms precise enough to classify the person in this case.

      4. Hypothetical case of a person with a female mind and brain (not the chromosomes, but the structure of the brain, the predispositions and any other difference between the minds). That too, comes out as a woman, intuitively – probably; if there is only a minuscule difference between the minds of men and women, and the differences can change entirely quickly and in response to, say, taking hormones, then I would be inclined to think that’s a man. But I think that that is quite improbable. And of course, if some leftists were right and there were no female and male human minds, then any human with male sexual and reproductive organs and no female ones would be a man. But they are not right.

      5. The Doctor (“Star Trek: Voyager”). Okay, he’s not a woman, but a man. But a similar case would hold for a similar character. He’s not a human being. Is he male? I do not know, but if he is, then it seems to me that “male” is not about natural sexual role or capacity.

      In particular, I don’t see any conflict between the way I use the term regularly, and my assessment in any of those cases – most relevantly, case 4. I’m just going by my intuitive understanding of the term. I don’t define “woman” or “female human being”, etc., in terms of other terms, but I do so ostensibly. If you can find any contradiction in what I’m saying, I would like to ask that you show me where so I can correct my view.
      Anyway, I do realize that you and other conservatives claim that in case 4., that would be a man. But then again, when I read the arguments they give, in my assessment they are reaching that conclusion on the basis of a false theory about the meaning of the words, so I’m not persuaded. What I can do is try to ask the question to others. I have, with mixed results, but the outright hostility that one gets from so many people (on the left and on the right) just by asking these kinds of questions makes testing pretty difficult.
      There is some evidence from fiction: viewers do not seem to have any difficulty intuitively identifying people as women or men by their minds in cases like 3. It might be argued that that’s because of the character’s history. But then again, history does not seem crucial in other cases, either (I presented examples in my replies to Jordan), so I’m not sure why it would be in these.

    • Jacques,

      Sorry, in the previous reply I made a copy/paste error; the first part was an early draft. The reply I meant is after I said “Jacques” for the second time.

  24. Jordan,

    After reading the rest of the thread, it appears Angra is not terribly interested in figuring out what might be the best way to proceed with regards to language use (which is assumed to entail meaning), but is rather currently more interested in the anthropology of meaning determination.

    I’m interested in thoughtful discussion about the usual meaning of the terms too (not just proposed definitions, but whether Jenner or other specific people are women, men or neither in the usual sense). But I’m willing to discuss other matters as well.

    That aside, regarding Green’s account in my assewssment, my scenarios show that the concept of “woman” is not dependent on any path like the ones suggested by Green. It’s not about vague, borderline cases. It’s about cases that, in my view, are clear-cut cases of women – even if they are unusual counterfactual cases, those would be women. Given that you think that those cases are borderline under common usage, there is not much else we can say other than disagree, or test the matter. Perhaps, you and I are using the word “woman” in a very different manner, and the difference shows in this particular cases. If enough people consider them borderline, then I would be persuaded that they’re borderline, but they seem too obvious to me to be borderline.
    I propose this, in case you want to proceed on this particular matter (though it would take some time): We could test the issue by asking other people in other venues what they think about the scenarios, preferably in places where no one is discussing transgender-related stuff. So, if you would like to test the theory, please let me know. If you prefer not to test it, we can just leave that aside, unless you see an alternative.

    As for coherence, in order for an assertion to be incoherent, it has to be either meaningless or meaningful but contradictory (or just meaningless; there is probably more than one usage).
    Now, you say “No one can you stop you from defining “male”, “female”, and “intersex” in such a way that language coheres in the case of SBSO, but then such language is worthless because it becomes excessively amorphous, redundant, meaningless, etc.”, which indicates that you think that using “male”, “female” and “intersex” in the usual sense of the words (not under an unusual definition), it’s incoherent for an organism to change sex so frequently. But that seems to be false as far as I can tell, though we can always test it in the same manner I mentioned above.

    By the way, are you familiar with the cases of fish that change sex? For example, there is a species in there are groups of fish consisting in one adult male and several females. He mates with them, they lay eggs, etc. Now, when the male dies, the larger female trasnforms into a male: her sexual organs change, her behavior change, and then he (no longer a “she”) mates with the females, then they lay eggs, etc. So, the organism was female, and then it became a male. This is perfectly in line with common usage of the words “male” and “female”.

    What about the scenario in which the changes happen within a minute?

    Well, surely that does not happen in the real world. But also, it seems prima facie coherent that something like that would happen. In fact, it seems to me it’s very probably metaphysically possible. There is the issue that if the changes are too quick, there might be a problem with preservation of identity because causality might have been working in a weird fashion. But it’s just a “might”. As far as I can tell, it looks metaphysically possible. Obviously, that does not happen in real life, so if someone were to actually claim that they changed like that, the claims would be obviously false. But incoherent? I do not believe so, unless you’re using the word “incoherent” in a different manner, in which case I would like to ask you to tell me what you mean by “incoherent”, so that we won’t keep talking past each other. If you just meant “it does not actually happen”, sure, it does not actually happen.

    Regarding miracles, the term “miracle” is pretty ambiguous, but going by usual examples, I do not believe any miracles ever happened or happen. However, in most cases, the descriptions are coherent. I do not understand why you would think I would be a big fan of miracles if I thought your scenario were coherent. For that matter, it’s coherent that half the people in the world are stronger than the Hulk (in a specific movie, if you want precision to make it meaningful) but choose to hide it. But I’m no big fan of believing that something like that is true, either!

    Now, you say “As to whether Jenner is a gender-female, it would help if a brain scan showed that he had the brain of your run-of-the-mill woman. Is it possible? (Men and women have different brains. We can predict their identities from brain scans with an accuracy rate approaching 90-95%).”
    Before I go on, I would like to ask for evidence of that. In my exchange with Catholic Hulk, you will see that I have been saying that there is such a thing as a human female mind (and a human female brain), and a human male mind (and a male brain). I also knew that it was possible to tell the difference to some extent with brain scans, but I did not know that I had become so good. So, I would ask you if you could point me to the evidence.
    That would be interesting for me to read, and also useful, since I can add further evidence in my exchange with Catholic Hulk if it goes on, and also I can add that evidence if I discuss the matter with people (generally leftists) who deny that there are such differences (I also have good evidence of female and male minds and arguments to back my claims that do not require the brain scans that you mention, but they could come in handy).

    You also say ” Yes, because we have transgender studies showing that it’s not sufficiently infrequent to be considered a non-starter.”
    The studies I’ve seen do not say so. They only say that in some respects, the brains of people who have male sexual organs but who claim to be women/transgender/etc., are more female-like than usual for males, but still closer to the brains of males than to those of females – and that’s in some respects only. In any case, it would be very different to infer the degree of differences in minds from that of brains. But still, I admit I haven’t seen so many studies, and the studies you describe would be interesting, even if perhaps inconclusive because do not know of all of the differences between male and female brain. So, I would appreciate some links.

    However, couple that requirement with the path dependency dimension and the connection to a chromosomal profile and it’s not straight forward at all to say Jenner is a gender-woman instead of a gender-‘woman’.

    In my assessment, the path-dependenty claim is false, and I don’t think chromosomes matter.
    I mean, of course chromosomes matter in a causal sense, in that they normally XY chromosomes bring about male traits, including make sexual organs and also male brains/minds. But if they fail to do so, I don’t think in the usual sense of the words “woman” or “man”, they matter.

    What seems not so straight forward to me, however, is whether the term “woman” is such that an individual with a female mind but male sexual and reproductive organs would be a woman. In my intuitive assessment of the matter, the answer is affirmative, but as I said, it might be that the percentage of people who use the term “woman” (and “man”) to mean something else (and so, that such an organism would not be a woman in their usage) is not be negligible, and then that raises the questions of which usage is more common, whether there is a fact of the matter, etc.
    The reason I said Jenner is probably a man is because probably he has a male mind, in my assessment. If he does have a female mind (maybe the studies you mention will persuade me!), I would be inclined to say he is probably a woman… in that case I should say that she is probably a woman (I still think he’s probably a man, though, but I’m always open to evidence to the contrary).

    What you have to show is that the more one expands the boundaries of gender and sex to sweep up all types of anomalies (and cases where one is flipping a coin as to whether the person is this or that) the difficulty of obtaining coherence remains stable instead of increasing.

    I’m not attempting to expand any boundaries. I’m arguing about what is or is not the case, on the usual meaning of the words. We seem to disagree about the actual meaning, but I’m not attempting to expand anything, let alone to “sweep up all types of anomalies”. In fact, it seems clear to me that there are cases in which an adult human being would not be a woman or a man. For example, if they have a mind that has both male and female characteristics to a similar extent, and also mixed sexual organs. And there are cases that would be borderline, and then the words “male” and “female” simply aren’t precise enough to be used in that context. We just seem to disagree about whether some cases are or would be among those.

    As I said, at least as I intuitively grasp the concepts, an adult human being with a female mind and male sexual organs would be a woman (assuming the person is an adult human being), but as I mentioned, I have encountered people who say that that person would be a man, and by asking others, I’m not entirely confident that my usage lines up with majority usage on this particular point, though I still think that that is more likely than not.
    There is another potential alternative usage to consider – namely, that an individual with a female mind and male sexual organs is neither a man nor a woman. It’s also a testable matter, and we could do it to some extent (even if not scientifically): we could go around presenting the scenarios in different venues (forums, blogs, etc.) and asking people whether that person would be a woman, a man or neither. Still, people’s emotional committments to their respective ideologies/religions would likely hamper the quest for truth in this case (e.g., instead of civilly answering one’s question, many or even most might just start with demonizations, false and unwarranted attributions of beliefs and/or intentions, etc. Business as usual).

    We wouldn’t put up with someone changing their legal name, gender, or sex each day (it wouldn’t take long for a judge or clerk to just say “get the **** out of my courthouse”).

    Sure, and there are pretty good reasons not to put up with that, though they do not have to do with coherence:

    Regarding the legal name, changing it everyday would be a problem for other people who have legitimate interests (e.g., people in business relations with that person, family relations, etc.). It would be also problematic for law enforcement. It would be costly (unless the person pays for it, but then that creates precedent that others might invoke), and so on. So, there are good reasons to reject that. Of course, an alternative is not to have a legal name at all (i.e., allow that people be legally identified in some other way, like a number, and then they may legally do whatever they want with their non-legal name).

    Regarding the legal sex or gender, actually sex or gender in humans does not change every day (and probably does not change ever, but I don’t need this point). It’s probably coherent that it might change every day, but as a matter of fact, it does not (for that matter, it is coherent that I gain the powers of Superman every Tuesday and lose them every Wednesday, but surely I do not. A lot of things are coherent but simply do not happen; this is unproblematic as far as I can tell).
    Changing the legal sex or gender every day would result in the law making a false claim about that person’s sex or gender, at least one day out of two (or more, if there are more options).
    In realistic present-day scenarios, it seems to me there are two main reasonable ways in which the law can deal with how to identify the sex of a person, in my assessment, which are:

    1. The legal sex is the actual sex, when it can be established (at a reasonable cost), and there is no legal sex when it cannot.
    2. There is no legal sex, and the matter is left to private individuals.

    Which one is better might depend on the country and/or state, province, etc.

    I would make a similar point for gender: Either the law aims at the truth, or stays out of the gender business altogether – or it’s a bad law.

    • Angra,

      Later today I will respond more fully to your comments, I just want to point out that in your response to me and Jacques and possibly others, you are wrong about the meaning of coherence/incoherence. I’m a pretty big advocate of semantic frames in linguistics and so I try not to be annoying by bringing up dictionary definitions, but since you’ve continued to press the point I will. There are a couple different accepted meanings of coherence/incoherence. If it is used in relation to an ideology or a belief system, then it is more concerned with logical contradiction or inconsistency. If it is used in relation to speech or words, then it has less to do with logical contradiction and more to do with intelligibility, comprehensibility, clarity, and the like. There are other meanings for coherence/incoherence, but it’s clear you are more concerned with a formal philosophical flavor of the term. Now, the current discussion is not a particularly philosophical discussion nor is it about the propositional beliefs per se of a certain faction of the left-wing. It’s only about propositional belief in as much as it is about the words we have good justification for using in everyday social parlance, public contexts, institutional speech, and the like. This is a pragmatic, policy issue. If a university wants it’s stakeholders to endorse the terminology for 60+ ‘genders’ (many of which may be utterly idiosyncratic, and invented in the past ~5 years) there are enormous problems with that, when the justification for doing so is either non-existent or so paltry as to deserve the simple response of “get the **** out.” In many ways, the very recent explosion in the number of gender/sex identities seems to be somewhat like a public comingout of BDSM type fetishes and/or identities (or sex party fetishes and/or identities) and the like, but we’ll leave that to the side. For all those people who are not simply just making crap up (which there is likely a decent amount of) and are not completely deluded when doing so, we can thank the internet for aberrations finding each other and building global communities of 5-10 people.

      What is unintelligible, utterly confusing, and pretty incomprehensible and thus incoherent is to (like my SBSO examples) have little temporal stability, essentially no normality, and have a high level of granularity for the language used in the parlance, context, and speech I mentioned earlier. Who is to say that SBSO2 is not real? You can’t actually invalidate someone’s gender identity because it’s largely based on whatever they self-reportedly feel. If their feeling is XYZ, and one other person on the planet says “hmmm… XYZ makes sense as a feeling, let’s call this feeling you identify with XYZism”, then boom, you have a ‘recognized’, and ‘real’ gender identity. And indeed there are actual people who this happens to. So, once again, to re-iterate, the more one moves towards expanded boundaries of gender with regards to the parlance, context, and speech I mentioned in the above paragraph, the more one becomes incoherent because arguably the greatest reason for using and talking about genders in the first place is to have something with temporal stability, relative normality, and with a low level of granularity. This is a heuristic tool for living in the world, and is – all things considered/regression to the mean/overall/cumulatively speaking – fine at what it does for most people.

  25. Jordan,

    With respect to the meaning of “incoherent”, I’ll go with the definitions you provide, but I was considering both consistency (one of your definitions) and meaningfulness (not sure whether your definitions about “comprehensibility” is like this, or probably broader). Earlier your scenario was:

    Rather, it’s that the farther one goes in a certain frame of argument/mind the closer one comes to being flat-out incoherent. Now, let’s take a (hopefully) uncontroversial example of being incoherent: anyone can be anything they want, at anytime they want, regarding gender and sexuality. Is that even logically or epistemically problematic to you?

    You say that in one of its meanings “incoherent” is “more concerned” with logical inconsistency or contradiction. I’m not sure whether by “more concerned” you mean that in that sense, to be incoherent is to be logically inconsistent, or there is something else, but in light of your question about whether it’s logically problematic, the part of my answer that addresses whether it’s logically contradictory addresses the question. I also addressed your question about whether it’s epistemically problematic (it is).

    Regarding comprehensibility of the scenario you present (in the quote above), it’s ambiguous because each of the terms seems to have different usages, so I replied considering some of the definitions that I found, and that seemed to be common enough.

    As for what the current conversation is about, there seem to be several matters under discussion, and while some of them are about policy, others (and the ones we’re mostly discussing in the thread) are about the beliefs and claims of transgender people (e.g., what they mean, what they believe, whether their beliefs and/or their claims are contradictory, and so on). Of course, you may not be interested in discussing those matters, but they have been raised and/or addressed by other posters, not just by me.

    Concerning what to do, that depends on the situation. A potential course of action in the context of debates (or public posts considering different possibilities) would be to ask things along the lines of:

    1. Ask what is the difference between a man and a woman, if there is no difference between female minds and male minds, to the majority of the left who seems to hold that there is no such thing (the leftist belief in a “tabula rasa” is not only false, but a serious problem in the context of transgender claims).

    2. When a person with female[male] sexual organs claims to have a male[female] mind, ask for evidence.

    It seems to me that that would be a serious problem (insurmountable as the debate unfolds) for your opponents on the matter. But then again, that does not seem to be what you were asking. I would ask for clarification.

    If a university wants it’s stakeholders to endorse the terminology for 60+ ‘genders’ (many of which may be utterly idiosyncratic, and invented in the past ~5 years) there are enormous problems with that, when the justification for doing so is either non-existent or so paltry as to deserve the simple response of “get the **** out.”

    Sure, it’s a problem, especially if “wants” is somehow enforced (even if at a private level, i.e., without government involvement) and legally.
    That reply may be deserved (those some or many of the people doing it might be doing so out of coercion because there are potentially serious consequences not to go with the predominant ideology on this), but in most cases it’s not an effective course of action. It depends on the university, but in some cases, students very probably are better off just by endorsing whatever they say in order to avoid the consequences of failing to do so. On the other hand, third parties or people who post anonymously and who are interested in preventing the spread of this sort of ideology would probably have a better shot by replying with cogent arguments made in a civil manner.
    To be clear, I don’t think cogent arguments made in a civil manner would generally have a good shot at being successful. I just think that it’s a very long shot, while “get the **** out” is a longer shot, if it’s intended as a means of preventing the spread of such terminology, or even the attempts to force people into accepting unwarranted (and often improbable) claims.

    For all those people who are not simply just making crap up (which there is likely a decent amount of) and are not completely deluded when doing so, we can thank the internet for aberrations finding each other and building global communities of 5-10 people.

    This is not a problem per se. If they manage to find someone like them and that makes them happy, good for them. The problems are (among other things) the spread of unwarranted and false claims and beliefs (in matters concerning gender, among others), the demonization of people who point out that there are problems with the definitions, show that some claims are unwarranted, etc. But the internet also allows us to access enormous amounts of information that would otherwise be out of reach.

    What is unintelligible, utterly confusing, and pretty incomprehensible and thus incoherent is to (like my SBSO examples) have little temporal stability, essentially no normality, and have a high level of granularity for the language used in the parlance, context, and speech I mentioned earlier.

    If it is unintelligible, then it’s either meaningless, or it’s meaningful but the meaning can’t be understood for some reason. You are the one who asked the question, so I would ask you whether you meant something when you wrote that.
    If someone actually made that claim, I would probably ask for clarification if I’m interested enough (and if I didn’t mind the chances of online demonization if I asked).

    Who is to say that SBSO2 is not real?

    Again, if I can look up the words and use those meanings or understand them by asking the person making the claim, I have no problem arguing that it’s not real or (depending on the case) that it might or might not be, but it would be epistemically irrational to believe it is.
    If, on the other hand, the claim is unintelligible and that remains so after one asks, I would have to consider the specific matter, but probably I would conclude (and show, though they surely won’t agree) that it would be epistemically irrational on my part to believe that the claim is true.

    You can’t actually invalidate someone’s gender identity because it’s largely based on whatever they self-reportedly feel.

    That does not appear to be unintelligible to me. Or is it only intelligible that they’re reporting what they feel, but it’s not intelligible what the feel is?
    If so, then I could assess what the odds of someone also human has this feeling that somehow I’m unable to understand, then make an assessment comparing reports with those of other people, etc.; if anything, that would not affect my assessment about whether the person making the claim is a woman, a man, or neither.

    At any rate, claims such as Jenner’s are intelligible, and one can assess whether they are true. In my assessment, his position is probably not true, though I don’t go far enough to say it’s certainly not true. I would however say that believing that Jenner is a woman would be epistemically irrational on my part.
    Other claims would have to be assessed on a case by case basis.

    If their feeling is XYZ, and one other person on the planet says “hmmm… XYZ makes sense as a feeling, let’s call this feeling you identify with XYZism”, then boom, you have a ‘recognized’, and ‘real’ gender identity. And indeed there are actual people who this happens to.

    I offer to comment on any of the cases, if you point me to it. Else, I’m not sure which actual situations you’re talking about.

    So, once again, to re-iterate, the more one moves towards expanded boundaries of gender with regards to the parlance, context, and speech I mentioned in the above paragraph, the more one becomes incoherent because arguably the greatest reason for using and talking about genders in the first place is to have something with temporal stability, relative normality, and with a low level of granularity. This is a heuristic tool for living in the world, and is – all things considered/regression to the mean/overall/cumulatively speaking – fine at what it does for most people.

    There are men, women, and probably people with a mix of characteristics so that they’re neither men or women, and there are some borderline cases in which terminology is not precise enough.

    There is room for greater precision, perhaps to add more precise categories, though whether to use them is a matter of convenience that has to be assessed in specific cases. In the future, maybe it will be useful for the purposes of scientific research to have some further categories, though I’m not so sure.
    At any rate, I don’t think adding more terminology would per se be a problem – and of course, you can still correcly point out that a person is a woman or a man, no matter how many other terms were introduced. Rather, I think the problems are – among others – unwarranted claims about whether a person is a man or a woman, additional terminology that (as is often the case) does not increase precision but rather is obscure, ambiguous and sure sometimes unintelligible, unwarranted attribution of beliefs, intent, etc., to people who oppose some of the unwarranted claims and/or points out that some are unintelligible, etc., generally internet-amplified demonization, and so on.
    But unwarranted claims, bad terminology, etc., all can be properly challenged, though one has to be careful not to believe one has understood some claims when one has not.

    • Earlier you say, “There is another potential alternative usage to consider – namely, that an individual with a female mind and male sexual organs is neither a man nor a woman. It’s also a testable matter, and we could do it to some extent (even if not scientifically): we could go around presenting the scenarios in different venues (forums, blogs, etc.) and asking people whether that person would be a woman, a man or neither. Still, people’s emotional commitments to their respective ideologies/religions would likely hamper the quest for truth in this case (e.g., instead of civilly answering one’s question, many or even most might just start with demonizations, false and unwarranted attributions of beliefs and/or intentions, etc. Business as usual).”

      This shows to me that you’re not entirely getting one of the points I was driving home in this discussion. We both agree that judgements are going to be (for the most part) probabilistic on these matters. Your counterexamples to Green’s account are examples of anomalies and I used the term borderline as an equivalent way to describe them. For Green’s account to be subverted on the basis of anomalies (or your counterexamples) requires that his account be providing necessary and sufficient conditions for being of a certain gender. Regardless of whether Green thinks he is providing an account with necessary and sufficient conditions does not matter. The account can me modified so that it isn’t purporting to delineate necessary and sufficient conditions. For this reason, the path dependency condition is relevant. Or, to describe it’s relevance another way (the percentages are obviously not exactly accurate, but they are approximately accurate, and they serve to illustrate the point):

      (1) 99.99% of genetic females who identify as female meet the path dependency condition.
      (2) 99.9% of MtF transgenders don’t meet the path dependency condition or the chromosomal profile condition.
      (3) You can’t sneak in all the people in (2) into the group of (1) on the basis of what is left out in both groups, which is what you would be doing if you take your counterexamples to effectively be subverting Green’s account.

      Now, you might ask yourself, how on that account you can know for sure that Jenner is not a woman but instead a ‘woman’? Well, you can’t know for sure, but you have pretty good justification to think Jenner is a ‘woman’ because you know that path dependency is almost always a partial condition for being a woman (I’m using “female” and “woman” interchangeably only to keep with prior use in the thread) and that Jenner likely doesn’t meet that condition, ergo Jenner is likely a ‘woman’ because Jenner’s chromosomal profile is also out of whack and Jenner may also not have a thick enough bundle of attributes. But, even if one was convinced that Jenner in this individual case (and in accordance with this modified tripartite test for being a woman) was a woman, it wouldn’t mean anything for how we think about the category of MtF transgenders. This is because, on the whole, MtF transgenders don’t transition early enough in life to be able to meet the path dependency condition, but even they did it would likely be a watered down fulfillment of the path dependency condition as the chromosomal profile doesn’t line up.

      You can run all of the individual tests you want. You can run surveys asking people whether this Jenner or that Jenner is a woman or a ‘woman’. You could even get some task time with Amazon’s mechanical turk. It won’t matter.

  26. Angra,
    I don’t like your way of approaching this. In an earlier thread you were appealing to intuitions left, right and center. What could be more intuitively obvious than the proposition that Bruce Jenner is not really a woman, or that having a female kind of mind is not all by itself sufficient for being a woman?

    You seem biased. Or maybe you’re not honest? You claim coherence for the transgender position (or some version of it) appealing to arguments about logical possibility, or just because there may be some far-fetched science fiction scenario where our ordinary judgments seem wrong, etc. But when you assess my earlier common sense claims you assume the least charitable interpretation possible, presumably so that you can find fault. In your eagerness to object and quibble, you forget your own scruples. Examples:

    (i) I said that women are female human beings. You pointed out that I didn’t specify that they are _adult_ female human beings, and that some science fiction character who isn’t ‘human’ seems to be a woman. But I never said (or suggested) that being a female human being was a necessary and sufficient condition for being a woman. If I said that human beings are mammals, would you immediately object that cats are also mammals? My sense is that you would object if I said so in order to argue for a conservative conclusion, but maybe not otherwise. On a charitable and reasonable interpretation, I was saying that a woman is _at least_ a female human being. (Which seems pretty obvious to me.) So it looks like maximum charity for the other side, zero for mine.

    (ii) Your scenario about the science fiction character–“T’Pol”?–seems inconsistent with your strategy in support of the transgender position. You say she is non-human but (probably) a woman. How can you be confident that she’s not human? If she looks just like one of us, behaves pretty much like one of us (etc.) then maybe we’d intuitively judge that T’Pol is a female human being despite her alien DNA or ancestry (or whatever). If women are ostensively defined, why not human beings? If you assume T’Pol isn’t really human because she lacks some supposedly necessary property P, the same kinds of arguments you’ve made about Jenner would apply here to show (“show”) that P isn’t really necessary for being human or might not be, etc.

    (iii) You take some time to quibble over a ‘technical’ definition of ‘female’ having to do with gametes. Obviously this isn’t what I was talking about, and obviously it’s not really a _definition_ in any relevant sense. Maybe it’s a recent scientific discovery about something that tends to cause or faciitate or coincide with the property of being female in humans or (most) terrestrial biology. It would make no sense to claim that facts about gametes _define_ the property. There seems to be no point in bringing this up except to make it seem that the topic is really so much more confusing and complicated than it seems. Muddying the waters.

    Anyway, in order to simplify and clarify, here’s the argument I was proposing:

    (1) Being female is a necessary condition for being a woman.
    (2) Being female is not a purely or basically mental property.
    Therefore,
    (3) Having a female mind is not a sufficient condition for being a woman.

    In support of (1) I appeal to common sense, intuition, language use, scientific results and methodology. (People may learn the word ‘woman’ by ostension, but normal grown-ups do tend to think that being female is necessary for being a woman!) In support of (2) I appeal to reflective equilibrium. The argument goes like this: The concept ‘female’ plays an important role in our beliefs about ordinary life, reproduction, human origins and physiology and biology (and lots of other things). And these beliefs make no sense unless ‘female’ is understood in terms of reproductive role, reproductive capacity, reproductive physiology, etc. And no fact about a person’s mind are sufficient for that role, capacity, physiology, etc.

    If you don’t think this is a compelling argument then I don’t know what to say. We live on different planets. If it turns out that there’s some weird thought experiment from Star Trek that seems to count against (1) or (2) then I regard that as (at best) a puzzle, not any ground for serious doubt.

    Finally, I want to say something about an earlier comment somewhere above where you were bemused that so many conservatives seem to get angry or annoyed with you when you try to discuss these topics. I don’t know whether you’re in good faith. I’m going to assume that you are. So you think you’re just offering some philosophical arguments, just raising some interesting questions, and you’re kind of puzzled that sometimes conservatives react with some emotion. You’re just trying to have an interesting conversation. Why are people getting worked up? Again, I’m assuming you’re in good faith. I’ll speak for myself. I find your attitude unpleasant because we’re not having this debate in a normal sane society. While we argue, teenagers and even young children are being mutilated and psychologically ruined as a result of this transgender garbage being implemented. Many of them will never be able to have children, normal healthy relationships or self-conceptions. More broadly, the result will be even deeper confusion and degeneracy at a societal level. And, on top of all that, we’re now seeing the state move very quickly and aggressively towards criminalizing dissent or even skepticism about this insane ideology. So in that context, the idea that we should just have an interesting conversation is morally repulsive. The point of such a conversation–while we’re still allowed to have it–is not to find out interesting little philosophical factoids. The point is to save large numbers of people, including young children, from state-sponsored abuse and mutilation. There’s probably little hope we can do much. Pretty much every authority and institution in the west is bent on mutilation and abuse. But maybe we could have some effect.

    At least, that’s our situation if the conservative position is right. (Really, it’s not even ‘conservative’. It’s the human position, the non-insane position.) What kind of person wouldn’t be angry about all this, and angry with clever-silly arguments about gametes or science fiction characters? Either you’re just being a dick or you need to get serious. So assuming you’re in good faith, I would ask you to think very seriously about the stakes here: even if there is room for philosophical quibbling here and there, as there always is, you need to pick a side. Which overall view of human nature and human sexes do you think is more likely to be coherent and true? If you’re honest, I think you have to take our side. Whatever _exactly_ the transgender people might be saying on the most charitable interpretation possible, it is still _almost certainly_ wrong as applied to actual human beings on earth. If you’re going to bother writing about this stuff, you should use your intelligence and expertise to defend the True and the Good instead of doing the clever-silly thing in defense of what is _almost certainly_ insane and evil and profoundly damaging to humanity. You could help us refine our arguments, or come up with your own arguments, or go on some evil pro-mutilation site and do the clever-silly thing there. Maybe you’d change a few minds. But, unless you really have no idea what’s going on and you’re really honestly undecided about all this, what you’re doing here is just gross.

  27. Jordan,

    Regarding my scenarios, as I said in my previous reply, in my assessment those cases aren’t borderline (not in a relevant sense, which is about meaning, not about how frequent the cases are). They are anomalies only in the sense that such developments are extremely improbable (metaphysically possible but not actual scenarios). They’re not, I think, anomalies when it comes to the usual terms. On that note, have you read Jacques’ proposed definitions of “woman” and “female human being”, in his reply to me?
    While I don’t agree with his view (see my reply for that), definitions like that are in my experience very common among people on the right, and according to those definitions, whether a person is a woman is not path-dependent (at least, definitely not in a way similar to the one proposed by Green).
    The path-dependent view proposed by Green (and by some feminists, probably including Greer), or a view compatible with it, is quite infrequent both among right-wingers and among left-wingers. Of course, that does not count strongly against it – I reject it for the reasons I’ve been giving, not for that one -, but I thought I’d point this out, because I get the impression you think it is more common, at least among the right.
    Now, granted, the theory about what the words mean is not the same as what they mean, and people will use them in their intuitive understanding even if it contradicts their theory (usually), but I don’t think in these cases, many will use them in a manner that is in line with Green’s view.

    For Green’s account to be subverted on the basis of anomalies (or your counterexamples) requires that his account be providing necessary and sufficient conditions for being of a certain gender.

    Actually, if his account names a certain sort of history as a necessary condition, cases of women in which the condition fails to obtain would suffice to debunk the account, regardless of whether he’s also saying the condition is sufficient. And Green seems to be using the condition as necessary at least (I’d say sufficient too, but it’s not needed), because he’s rejecting claims of people who would be anomalous cases (more precisely, people with male sexual organs who claim to be women), on account of the lack of that path he talks about.
    The only part of his post in which his account appears less forcefull on the matter is when he says “And that is the sense in which MTF transgendered people are not women.”. Taken in isolation, that would suggest he’s perhaps willing to say that there is a common sense of the word in “woman” in which they are women. But in the context of his article, that does not appear to be what he’s saying. Rather, he’s apparently saying that MTF transgender people may have some things in common with women, but aren’t women in the usual sense of the term in English. I think he’s probably correct at least about most of them, and it may well be about all of them, but I think for the wrong reasons, and that’s what I’ve been arguing on the matter.

    Granted, the path-dependency condition can be modified and one can say it’s not a necessary condition, though I don’t think the modification works (more below). But the way you propose to do so indicates you haven’t understood what I’m trying to do with the counterexamples, or what the consequences of accepting them would be. You say:

    (1) 99.99% of genetic females who identify as female meet the path dependency condition.
    (2) 99.9% of MtF transgenders don’t meet the path dependency condition or the chromosomal profile condition.
    (3) You can’t sneak in all the people in (2) into the group of (1) on the basis of what is left out in both groups, which is what you would be doing if you take your counterexamples to effectively be subverting Green’s account.

    First, no, if my counterexamples work – and I think they do -, they show that the path dependency condition (at least, the paths Green lists, or similar ones) is in fact not a necessary condition for being a woman. But on the other hand, I’m not trying to “sneak” or introduce anyone into any category. I’m saying that I do not know whether any MtF transgender person is a woman, but I also say probably most of them are not women, and maybe none is. Moreover, it would be epistemically irrational on my part on the basis of the available evidence to believe that some are women. So, I’m surely not trying to do what you think I’m trying to do. I have zero interest in doing that.

    Now, you might ask yourself, how on that account you can know for sure that Jenner is not a woman but instead a ‘woman’? Well, you can’t know for sure, but you have pretty good justification to think Jenner is a ‘woman’ because you know that path dependency is almost always a partial condition for being a woman (I’m using “female” and “woman” interchangeably only to keep with prior use in the thread) and that Jenner likely doesn’t meet that condition, ergo Jenner is likely a ‘woman’ because Jenner’s chromosomal profile is also out of whack and Jenner may also not have a thick enough bundle of attributes.

    While I agree that Jenner probably does not have a thick enough bundle of attributes, I don’t think we’re counting the same attributes as part of the bundle, so that’s probably were our disagreement about meaning lies.
    I don’t think the sort of path that Green mentions is a partial condition. What is true is that in nearly all actual cases, women meet the path condition he mentions, unless – say -, the universe is infinite (which may or may not be the case, for all I know), and there are infinitely many women who do not meet the path condition, so the number is the same (aleph zero in both cases).

    But regardless, if that were an argument based on empirical factors but not on meaning, it would be better, though I think you should also factor in Jenner’s own claims to weigh them as evidence, and you should give a lot more weight to the sort of body he has and one can observe, as a means of making a probabilistic argument about what his brain is like. In the end, I reckon he’s probably a man.

  28. Jacques,

    I’m being honest and not biased – if I’m wrong, well I’m not infallible, but I don’t think I’m wrong – but I don’t know if I can persuade you (ironically, people on the left tend to believe I’m a right-winger just as people on the right tend to believe I’m a left-winger. Such is life). In any case, I’ll address your points.

    Regarding appealing to intuitions, sure, I’m all for that. You ask “What could be more intuitively obvious than the proposition that Bruce Jenner is not really a woman, or that having a female kind of mind is not all by itself sufficient for being a woman?”.
    Those are two different questions. Yes, as a preliminary assessment, I reckon he’s almost certainly a man. After introducing further evidence including his own claims, I reckon he’s probably a man, and it would be irrational on my part to believe that Jenner is a woman – less strong, but still that’s my assessment.
    As to the second question, that’s precisely while we disagree, but my approach is precisely that: I’m coming up with hypothetical scenarios, and testing my intuitive understanding of the terms involved, in particular the terms “man” and “woman”. That is my approach. If you make different assessments in those scenarios, I would like to ask what your assessments are, but that would seem to be a case of the two of us having different intuitive grasps of the relevant terms.

    Regarding your claims, I did not assume the least charitable interpretation. In fact, I introduced the “adult” condition because it seemed clear to me that you meant that, and I did my best to understand your claims. If there is anything I did not get right, then please clarify, but I disagree that my interpretation was uncharitable.

    As to your examples, you said:

    (i) I said that women are female human beings. You pointed out that I didn’t specify that they are _adult_ female human beings, and that some science fiction character who isn’t ‘human’ seems to be a woman. But I never said (or suggested) that being a female human being was a necessary and sufficient condition for being a woman.

    Actually, you not only implied that it was a necessary and sufficient condition, but made a stronger claim. For example, being composed of H2O is a necessary and sufficient condition (in the metaphysical sense, not in a conceptual sense) for being water, but the term “water” does not mean “H2O”. But you said

    But is there really any meaning we can come up with for ‘woman’ other than ‘female human being’, or any meaning for ‘female’ that isn’t about natural sexual role or capacity or something like that?

    You made a claim about meaning. It follows that being a female human being was a necessary and sufficient condition for being a woman, but actually the claim you made is stronger.
    If that’s not what you meant, I disagree that it’s my error. After re-reading your posts, it seems pretty clear to me that you misspoke (unless you’re not being honest, but I do think you are).

    If I said that human beings are mammals, would you immediately object that cats are also mammals?

    No, but if you said something like “Is there really any meaning we can come up for ‘human being’ other than ‘mammal’?”, right after saying that human beings are mammals, I would definitely use examples such as cats, or dogs, or whatever. You get the point I hope.

    My sense is that you would object if I said so in order to argue for a conservative conclusion, but maybe not otherwise

    That’s not remotely the case. If I were to say in a leftist forum what I said in this thread, I would have already been demonized, accused of dishonesty, classified of course as a conservative, etc.
    Nearly always, if I speak openly, conservatives believe I’m a leftist and condemn me from what I believe and from that they falsely believe I believe, and leftists believe I’m a conservative and condemn me from what I believe and from that they falsely believe I believe. Such is life.

    On a charitable and reasonable interpretation, I was saying that a woman is _at least_ a female human being.

    That would not be a reasonable interpretation of your previous words. Your claim about meaning was clear, after carefully reading your post, and it’s still clear. Now, I get now that you did not mean to make that claim about meaning. But you did make it. It’s not my fault that you misspoke, and based on the previous post, I had no reason to think you had. Regardless, I will consider below your new argument.

    (ii) Your scenario about the science fiction character–“T’Pol”?–seems inconsistent with your strategy in support of the transgender position.

    “Support for the transgender position” might give the wrong impression, so let me clarify: I only say that some transgender claims – like Jenner’s position – are coherent. I do not support his position, and that should be clear by now.

    You say she is non-human but (probably) a woman. How can you be confident that she’s not human? If she looks just like one of us, behaves pretty much like one of us (etc.) then maybe we’d intuitively judge that T’Pol is a female human being despite her alien DNA or ancestry (or whatever).

    She doesn’t look human, but Vulcan. On the outside, that’s similar, but she has pointy ears and superhuman strength. But her blood is green, and there are a number of phisiological differences. She behaves very similarly to humans, because Vulcans do that. In the context of the story, it’s pretty clear (based on evidence from what we know about Vulcan, etc.) that she’s Vulcan, not human.

    If women are ostensively defined, why not human beings?

    Yes, “human being” can be ostensively defined too. Ostensive definitions does not mean that there are no necessary properties, by the way (e.g., we define “water” ostensively, and yet being composed of H2O is a necessary condition for being water; still, we lean this empirically), but the point is that under the ostensive definition people go by, not only I but all of the people watching the show reckon she’s not human. So, it seems to me that she’s not, in the usual sense of the words. But regardless, I will leave T’Pol’s example (or similar ones) aside for the purposes of addressing your arguments.

    (iii) You take some time to quibble over a ‘technical’ definition of ‘female’ having to do with gametes. Obviously this isn’t what I was talking about, and obviously it’s not really a _definition_ in any relevant sense. Maybe it’s a recent scientific discovery about something that tends to cause or faciitate or coincide with the property of being female in humans or (most) terrestrial biology. It would make no sense to claim that facts about gametes _define_ the property. There seems to be no point in bringing this up except to make it seem that the topic is really so much more confusing and complicated than it seems. Muddying the waters.

    I’m not quibbling. I mentioned it because it’s a common definition and you asked whether we could come up with any meaning of “female” that wasn’t about natural sexual role, etc., so I thought I’d mention it, but I said specifically that you were not talking about that in your claims, and surely I did not count it against any of your claims.
    Also, it is a technical definition of “female”, not a recent discovery (e.g., take a look at the Wikipedia page).

    Anyway, in order to simplify and clarify, here’s the argument I was proposing:

    (1) Being female is a necessary condition for being a woman.
    (2) Being female is not a purely or basically mental property.
    Therefore,
    (3) Having a female mind is not a sufficient condition for being a woman.

    Scenario 3:

    Bob is a man, and Alice is a woman. But as it turns out – like in a movie -, they swap bodies. Alice is now in a male body. She’s still a woman. Is she female?
    Let’s say Alice’s body is killed, and Bob with it. Alice is still there, but she has a male body. What then?
    Her body is male. Her mind is female. There is no further fact of the matter as to whether she’s female. But she’s a woman.

    I don’t think that’s nomologically possible, but I’d say it’s probably metaphysically possible (I don’t think we have souls, but I think souls are possible). So, having a female mind seems to be a sufficient condition, contradicting (3).

    Let’s say it’s metaphysically impossible. Then the following is metaphysically possible, in my assessment.

    Scenario 4.

    Bob is a man, and Alice is a woman. But as it turns out – like in a movie -, some evil corporation takes her brain and puts it in his rest-of-the-body.
    His brain and the rest of her body are killed.
    Alice has a female brain and mind, and a male rest of the body. She’s still a woman. So, it seems that at least having a female brain and mind is a sufficient condition for being a woman. That does not strictly contradict (3), but then it’s good enough.
    If you choose to reply, there are different ways you could counterargue; in that case, my reply will depend on which path you take.

    If you don’t think this is a compelling argument then I don’t know what to say. We live on different planets. If it turns out that there’s some weird thought experiment from Star Trek that seems to count against (1) or (2) then I regard that as (at best) a puzzle, not any ground for serious doubt.

    We do seem to have very different approaches to claims of necessity. I think weird scenarios, as long as they’re metaphysically possible and it’s clear what would be the case in those scenarios, are defeaters. If not, what do you mean by “necessary condition”, and how do you go about testing the claim?

    Finally, I want to say something about an earlier comment somewhere above where you were bemused that so many conservatives seem to get angry or annoyed with you when you try to discuss these topics. I don’t know whether you’re in good faith.

    I am, but to be clear, leftists generally get very angry as well. They believe I’m a conservative, attribute to me plenty of intentions, beliefs, etc., I do not have, etc.; a mirror of what conservatives usually do. It’s not only on these topics, by the way, but whenever I disagree with their respective ideologies and/or religions.

    I find your attitude unpleasant because we’re not having this debate in a normal sane society.

    I’m not in your society, btw, but that aside, leftists have a similar reaction, with different targets. In my assessment, sometimes leftits get it wrong, sometimes right, and the same for conservatives.

    So in that context, the idea that we should just have an interesting conversation is morally repulsive.

    But that’s not why they get angry with me. Rather, they attribute to me intentions, beliefs, etc., that I do not have, and that on the basis of my words, they should not believe I have.

    The point is to save large numbers of people, including young children, from state-sponsored abuse and mutilation.

    And in order to do that, misconstruing the positions of your opponents is not going to help. Rather, if you want to make good arguments, you should aim at understanding. Talking to them is sometimes difficult, because they’re too angry with you – as morally outraged by your behavior as you are by theirs. Such is life.
    There is some use for talking to someone who doesn’t get worked up when reading what the people on both sides are doing.

    There’s probably little hope we can do much. Pretty much every authority and institution in the west is bent on mutilation and abuse. But maybe we could have some effect.

    Probably, there is little you can do. But as I already said in my reply to Jordan, I can make a couple of suggestions. At any rate, I think you should aim at understanding before you criticize. And I think you should aim at having the right counterarguments.

    So assuming you’re in good faith, I would ask you to think very seriously about the stakes here: even if there is room for philosophical quibbling here and there, as there always is, you need to pick a side.

    No, I do not have to pick a side. I’m not even in your country, but even if I were, my “side” is to try to figure out who’s right about what. Different people are right about different things. And I’m willing to discuss them. I get angry rarely, and when I (again, rarely) do, it’s usually when people target me personally, or people close enough to me. If I were to get angry every time I read that people do evil things, I would not be able to think clearly about the matters at hand, so I’ve learned to adapt and not do that.

    Which overall view of human nature and human sexes do you think is more likely to be coherent and true? If you’re honest, I think you have to take our side.

    I’m not going to debate all of that in this thread (far too long), but in my view, both sides got it wrong for very different reasons. Conservatives usually seem to have some Christian-like view in mind (or at least, Thomistic), and leftists usually have one of a number of different ideologies that also give the wrong result. As for coherence, some philosophers on both sides manage that; beyond that, it’s a case by case basis and I wouldn’t hazard a general guess. Jenner and some others seem coherent, though.

    But regardless, on the transgender issue, I would say that probably at least most of the claims self-identified transgender people make are false. Though I do not rule out some might be true, it would be epistemically irrational on my part to believe any are true based in the available evidence. But I don’t need to take – and rationally should not take – the position supported by any specific ideology. Instead, I assess the matters on a case by case basis. Now, a potential course of action for your side I would suggest in debates if you want to counter the bad results of the spread of transgender ideologies is (among other ways, and always adapting to the specific case) as follows:

    1. Argue that if – as much of the left claims – there is no such thing as a female and a male human mind, the difference between men and women is something else, and then the only candidates left are things like sexual organs and the like. Else, press the question: what’s the difference? Why is Donald Trump a man, and Hilary Clinton a woman? Etc.

    2. When a person with female[male] sexual organs claims to have a male[female] mind, ask for evidence in support of that claim.

    It seems to me that that tactic would be a serious problem (insurmountable as the debate unfolds) for your opponents on the matter, at least if they’re willing to debate, which is pretty difficult anyway. Now, if you go by straightforward condemnation instead of trying to understand and engage in civil debate, the odds that they’ll try to debate the matter goes down. Instead, they’ll go for counter condemnation, and it’s about who is louder.
    At any rate, the odds that you can make a difference are, in my view, pretty low. That does not mean I think your opponents will in the long run (i.e., a few decades) succeed. There are other factors at play, and much greater social changes are coming, with to a considerable extent unpredictable outcomes, so I don’t know what will end up happening with the transgender stuff.

    You could help us refine our arguments, or come up with your own arguments, or go on some evil pro-mutilation site and do the clever-silly thing there.

    Helping people improve their arguments would be a bonus, in the cases in which they want to stop something bad (not something they mistakenly believe is bad). But I’m not holding my breath; my odds are pretty low (more below).

    Maybe you’d change a few minds

    Maybe, but it seems very improbable. In decades of online discussions, I don’t recall ever convincing anyone to change their minds about anything they already considered important, like what their ideology/religion tells them. At most, I might persuade people about some side points. I can still learn about their views by talking to them.

    But, unless you really have no idea what’s going on and you’re really honestly undecided about all this, what you’re doing here is just gross.

    Alright, how about this?
    If you and the others in this forum prefer that I get out of here, ask them to say so in a post or whatever (or a post that only right-wingers and left-wingers are welcome to debate, or people angry about what’s happening in your country, or something along those lines), and then I will not post in new threads.

  29. “Bob is a man, and Alice is a woman. But as it turns out – like in a movie -, they swap bodies. Alice is now in a male body. She’s still a woman… So, having a female mind seems to be a sufficient condition, contradicting (3).”

    If it’s sufficient, it’s sufficient even if you subtract all the science fiction stuff. So imagine some person P has always had the same (male) body and brain, but P has also always had a ‘female’ kind of mind: emotional, focused on personal relationships, somewhat risk- and conflict-averse, liked dolls more than trucks as a child, etc. Add whatever stereotypes you want. Your claim is that P is a woman just because of these psychological traits. That seems absurd to me. Instead, I’d just say that P is (at most) a kind of feminine or effeminate man. Not a woman, not female. Morrissey is not a woman. Camille Paglia is not a man. These are real life examples of people whose psychologies are markedly different from the kinds of minds we typically associate with their sex. No one seriously thinks they are actually _members_ of the opposite sex, and no one would think that even if we learned that they had _every_ purely psychological trait typically found in the opposite sex.

    So this is still no reason for thinking that _just_ having a female mind is sufficient. Maybe what it suggests is that having a certain history plus that kind of mind is sufficient. Or maybe it suggests that the history alone is sufficient. (That’s what I think–I don’t think the purely mental part is necessary; it’s just something we tend to find in normal women.) And what kind of history is that? Well, it’s a history of having had a certain kind of body suited a natural sexual role, sexual capacity, etc. You need to provide a plausible scenario where there is no such history, and it still seems that some purely mental property alone makes a person a woman. (That seems hard to imagine, especially since you yourself admit you have no real idea what these properties are supposed to be beyond some vague stereotypes. There is a difference between a tomboy and a boy, as someone already noted above.)

    You haven’t addressed the argument about reflective equilibrium. When I say human women are females, I’m saying they belong to the same category as female cats and whales and spiders. So what am I saying about all these beings? Something about their biology, their reproductive role, etc. I’m not implying that human females are psychologically similar to female spiders. When scientists reason about the origins of sex and sexual dimorphism, and talk about males and females, what are they talking about? Sometimes they may talk about psychology in this context, but there’s no _psychological_ thing that could be the referent or meaning across all these contexts. Isn’t ‘female’ part of the meaning of ‘woman’? And aren’t we talking about ‘female’ in the same sense across these contexts? Unless being female involves a reproductive role or capacity (which is not a psychological thing) this makes no sense.

    • Jacques,

      If it’s sufficient, it’s sufficient even if you subtract all the science fiction stuff. So imagine some person P has always had the same (male) body and brain, but P has also always had a ‘female’ kind of mind: emotional, focused on personal relationships, somewhat risk- and conflict-averse, liked dolls more than trucks as a child, etc.

      That was not specifically science fiction; it works also in contexts like “Buffy” or other fantasy shows. Anyway, let’s tackle your scenario.

      If the person has a male brain in the actual world, I would say that P has a male mind. Else, we’re still going into scify, fantasy, religion, etc. Also, you mention “emotional”, but I don’t have any specific reason to think that female minds are more emotional. The other factors may be more plausible, though it’s not clear by your description whether P’s mind is actually like a typical female mind (you go with quotation marks), or just those properties are somewhat closer to a female mind, but the rest of the mind is not female, and based on the brain, I would reckon it’s male. So, it’s hard to tell, due to the ambiguity of the scenario. But I will consider options:

      a. P’s brain is a male brain with some female-like traits (related to the female-like mental traits), but vastly predominantly male. And corresponding to that, P’s mind is vastly predominantly male, with some female-like traits. I reckon P is a man.

      b. P actually does have a fully female mind (or close to that), and the differences between female and male minds are significant, but then, P’s brain is male. I think we’re now firmly in the science fiction/fantasy territory (or religion, but not much better), but in that case, I would be inclined to say that that is a woman (by my understanding of the terms).

      c. P actually does have a female mind, but the differences between female and male minds are minuscule, which is why the brain is male, as it has only very few female-like traits. I don’t think this is actually true (I think there are more differences), but in that case, I would say that P is probably a man.

      One key point is that empirical factors inform what is necessarily the case very often. For example, water is H2O, and XYZ on Twin Earth would not be water, but if we had found that water on Earth is composed of different stuff in different places (especially, in different people), then a functional metaphysics would have held for water, and then XYZ on Twin Earth would have been water.
      So, if we had found out that – as many on the left believe – there is no such thing as a male or a female mind, of course I would think that factors having nothing to do with mind make a person a woman or a man. In that case, I would say that male or female sexual and reproductive organs would be decisive. On the other hand, if there were massive differences between the minds of male and female humans (like they normally did not even had the same interests on almost anything), then it would be pretty clear to me that a person would a female mind is a woman, regardless of sexual organs.

      So, the question is what happens between the two extremes. I think if we are very close to the first possibility (e.g., a minuscule difference between female and male human minds, perhaps something that can be totally overturned by, say, taking steroids for a couple of weeks), then I would say that sexual organs probably decide, whereas if the difference is just short of the vast difference I described, mind decides.
      What happens in the middle?

      In my view, the dominance of mind comes rather quickly. If there are – say – many subtle differences between female and male minds, that’s enough to make mind the deciding factor; I don’t know what the extend of the real life differences is, exactly, but both evolutionary considerations and direct observations (both anecdotal and scientific) support the conclusion that there probably are many subtle differences (and perhaps a couple of less subtle ones). So, in my view, and if you’re asking me to make my assessment on the basis of what I consider the extent of the female/male mental differences actually are (despite the odd stipulation that P has a male brain; I’ll assume it plays no role in the sort of mind P has), I reckon that P is a woman – again, as I understand the words.

      Now, I would not expect you to have the same intuitions, because if you did, then you would have already agreed with me in the hypothetical case 4 in my original post. So, my body-swap scenario was meant as an attempt to test your intuition in a different sort of case.

      Add whatever stereotypes you want.

      But I do not want to add any sterotypes, as I already explained in considerable detail in my replies to Catholic Hulk.
      Sometimes, stereotypes may be based on true differences, but they may exaggerate them. Sometimes, sterotypes might result from cultural factors that either lead to different behavior in specific cultural settings (but which aren’t generally characteristic of females or males), or from cultural factors that involve simply false beliefs about men or women. So, I’m not endorsing stereotypes.
      Moreover, the differences between female and male minds are probably in many cases subtle, and they haven’t been picked up (not even in a distorted manner) by any stereotypes at all. Those are the matters for future research in human psychology (when it’s not blocked by ideology, anyway).
      The question is not whether a person has a couple of traits closer to what’s usual for females than males, but whether P has a female mind, with all of those (probable) subtle differences, whatever they turn out to be.

      Your claim is that P is a woman just because of these psychological traits. That seems absurd to me.

      Alright, I’m used to my claims being found absurd in online debates. I also often find their claims absurd (in the sense of being very clear to me that they’re false). Such is life. But just to be clear: when you say “absurd”, are you saying it looks clearly false to you, or are you claiming there is some sort of incoherence?

      Morrissey is not a woman.

      I’m not familiar with him, but from what I read, I agree. He doesn’t even seem to claim otherwise.
      First, Morrisey has male sexual organs, and generally looks male. That is very strong evidence that nearly all of his body responded normally to testosterone production (or whatever other factors are involved in sexual differentiation in humans), and there is no particular reason to suspect the brain (which is of course part of the body) failed to respond to them. There is also a range of variation between the behavior of males, but even if he’s in some respects abnormal (I don’t know enough about him to tell), that again is extremely weak evidence of a female mind. So, in short, I reckon it’s almost certain (or certain) that he has a male mind (even if he may have a couple of traits that are more female-like).

      The case of Jenner is less clear to me because he claims to be a woman. Now, Jenner also has has male sexual organs, and generally looks male. That is very strong evidence that nearly all of his body responded normally to testosterone production (or whatever other factors are involved in sexual differentiation in humans), and there is would be no particular reason to suspect the brain (which is of course part of the body) failed to respond to them equally, except that Jenner claims to have a female mind, so that introduces some reason to doubt. But how good is the evidence?

      Jenner clearly has a lot more knowleged about his own mind than anyone else. But he does not have access to the minds of others. So, in order to assess he has a female mind, all he has are observations of behavior of female and male humans, and then the chances that he intutively and unconsciously picked up on many female and male distinct behaviors, and reckoned he’s a woman. But is that what happened? An alternative is just that he misclassified himself. What’s more probable, that someone who develops the rest of the body as male, with male hormones, etc., developed also a female brain (or at least, the part of the brain linked to the characteristically distinct male and female behaviors), or that he made a classification error (perhaps picking on a couple of behaviors that are indeed female-like, at most)?
      It seems much more probable to me that he’s made an error.

      Now, this is not to say that humans can’t pick up on those behavioral cues intuitively. Maybe we can, sometimes.
      In “The Blank Slate”, Steven Pinker mentions the case (for example) of a boy who lost his penis during a circumcision that went awry, and was castrated and raised as a girl – or so they tried. It turns out that since a young age, he claimed to be a boy trapped in the body of a girl, and insisted despite the parents’ persistence, and the fact they did not tell him the truth. How did he know?
      One clear possibility is that it was due to intuitively and unconsciously picking up on differences in behavior, and recognizing himself as a boy. Perhaps, there are other ways he found out, but it seems he wasn’t saying his body was that of a boy – he believed to be trapped in the body of a girl.
      But even if that’s how he found out – i.e., picking up on differences in behavior in that manner -, it’s very unlikely that Jenner did the same (well, sort of the opposite, finding that she has a female mind in a male body) successfully, precisely because Jenner was exposed to male hormones, because the rest of his body developed as that of a normal male, etc.; in other words, a mistaken assessment is probable in Jenner’s case. It’s not probable in the case of this boy – rather, it’s extremely probable that he actually has a male mind.

      But Jenner probably has a male mind too. I don’t think there is any other good piece of evidence that would change the odds; perhaps, female-like behavior as a child would also favor the hypothesis of a female mind, but I don’t think enough to establish it, at least at the present time, and given our very limited understanding of the psychological differences between males and females.

      Now, while it’s probable that Jenner’s claim of having a female mind is false, the odds that all claims made by people with male sexual organs that they have a female mind, are false, are not as high. After all, humans are a species with a population of over 7 billion, living in most cases in conditions very different from the ancestral environmenmt, and also have a very complex brain/mind. One can expect all sort of abnormalities in human psychological development, so I’m not willing to say it’s probable that no person in the world has male sexual organs and a female mind (or the other way around). But then again, without further evidence, it would not be rational on my part to conclude there are any, either.

      Camille Paglia is not a man.

      My reply is similar to the case of Morrissey.
      She’s a woman.

      These are real life examples of people whose psychologies are markedly different from the kinds of minds we typically associate with their sex.

      Again, it’s not about stereotypes. And I don’t know that their psychologies are so different – but even if they were, that would not mean their psychologies are like those of the opposite sex. It seems pretty improbable.

      So this is still no reason for thinking that _just_ having a female mind is sufficient. Maybe what it suggests is that having a certain history plus that kind of mind is sufficient. Or maybe it suggests that the history alone is sufficient. (That’s what I think–I don’t think the purely mental part is necessary; it’s just something we tend to find in normal women.) And what kind of history is that? Well, it’s a history of having had a certain kind of body suited a natural sexual role, sexual capacity, etc. You need to provide a plausible scenario where there is no such history, and it still seems that some purely mental property alone makes a person a woman.

      You say I “need to provide” a plausible scenario with no such history. Do I need to provide it in order to do what? In order to convince you? I might say that in order to convince me, you would have to show some plausible scenario of a person with a female mind, but who is not a woman. Clearly, our respective intuitions seem to be different on the subject, so more scenarios will probably not result in any sort of agreement.

      Still, for what’s worth: Scenario 5.

      Let’s continue from scenario 3. Alice leaves on Earth, in a male body, but she’s a woman. On a very distant planet beyond the observable universe, as a result of a quantum freak event (or intervention by a sufficient powerful alien, demon, or whatever we call it), Alice 2 comes into existence. Alice 2 has exactly the same mind and body as Alice (including Alice’s memories, etc.), but the memories are fake, she has no past, etc. But Alice 2 is still a woman.

      You haven’t addressed the argument about reflective equilibrium. When I say human women are females, I’m saying they belong to the same category as female cats and whales and spiders. So what am I saying about all these beings? Something about their biology, their reproductive role, etc. I’m not implying that human females are psychologically similar to female spiders. When scientists reason about the origins of sex and sexual dimorphism, and talk about males and females, what are they talking about? Sometimes they may talk about psychology in this context, but there’s no _psychological_ thing that could be the referent or meaning across all these contexts. Isn’t ‘female’ part of the meaning of ‘woman’? And aren’t we talking about ‘female’ in the same sense across these contexts? Unless being female involves a reproductive role or capacity (which is not a psychological thing) this makes no sense.

      Here, we need to distinguish between meaning and referent. Granted, there is no psychological thing that could be the referent. But what could be the thing?
      It is not the way they mate – they mate in many different ways. It is not chromosomes, since different species have different relations between sex and chromosomes, some change sex in adulthood, some develop different sexes depending on temperature of incubation when embryos; in some species, ZZ are normally male, and WZ are normally female, etc.; it is not size, since in many species females are bigger or much bigger, etc.
      So, what is it?
      You mention a reproductive role. But what?
      “Role” seems to indicate behavior. But again, behaviors vary widely.

      It seems to me the only candidate is size and lack of mobility of the gametes. But that’s a problem too: what if a female loses the ovaries, and makes no gametes? Adding a normality condition would avoid that problem, but create others, since some organisms might end up male or female as a result of abnormal development.

      The most likely scenario is that “female” – like many other words – has more than one meaning, or else, there is no underlying referent, and instead it’s a disjunction of (probably vague) things.

      However, if you have an alternative candidate (any candidate, e.g., you mention reproductive role or capacity; okay, so what is it about reproductive role, or capacity, or whatever).

      I don’t know if you have a way around that, but while I await your response, I will assume that you find some plausible candidate, and it’s about reproductive role or capacity (I still would like to ask if you have any candidates at all, or else why you think that’s what it’s about). In that case, there are two options here.

      1. As examples from hypothetical scenarios show (e.g., a woman version of the Doctor in “Star Trek: Voyager”), there are women with no reproductive capacities at all. If they are also female, then it’s normal for a certain sort of mind to have some sort of reproductive capacity. In particular, a person with male sexual and reproductive organs and a female mind just does not have the kind of reproductive capacity that would be normal for her.
      2. Those hypothetical characters are women but not females. If so, then clearly “female” is not part of the meaning of “women”.

      Which one do I believe is more likely?
      I don’t know for sure, because I’m working under an assumption that seems unlikely to hold. But I’m tentatively leaning towards 1.

  30. “If there were massive differences between the minds of male and female humans (like they normally did not even had the same interests on almost anything), then it would be pretty clear to me that a person would a female mind is a woman, regardless of sexual organs.”

    Is there any reason for this other than a personal intuition? For example, is there some kind of principle you’re relying on like “If members of kinds K and K* are massively different in respect R then R-differences are sufficient for being a member of K or K*”? Because that’s false. Humans and blue whales are very different with respect to size but it doesn’t follow that being the size of a typical blue whale is sufficient for being one, or that dwarf whales barely bigger than humans are humans. Or is the principle that massive _mental_ differences between kinds are sufficient? That too seems false. There are big differences in typical IQ between Pygmies and Ashkenazim, but an Ashkenazi with an IQ of 60 isn’t a Pygmy. Even if there were lots of other natural psychological differences between these groups, on average or typically, as there probably are, it’s clearly wrong to draw the conclusion that _those_ differences alone are enough to distinguish Pygmies from Ashkenazim. At least that’s how it seems to me: I assume that any differences of those kinds are explained by evolutionary and biological differences, and that those other ancestral differences are what determine membership in these groups. Do you disagree? Like, if it turns out that Pygmies and Ashkenazim tend to have “massively” different “interests” in virtually all respects, that would show that the rare Western European Jew with purely Jewish ancestry and “interests” (or whatever) just like those of the average Congolese Pygmy was in fact a Congolese Pygmy rather than Ashkenazic?

    Maybe there’s some other principle you’re assuming. But the bare assertion that big mental differences would make it “pretty clear” that a female mind is sufficient for being a woman goes against lots of scientific findings and common sense as well as ordinary use of the term. I mean, let’s stipulate that ‘F’ names some set of psychological properties that occur naturally in typical human woman (perhaps for evolutionary reasons). If we’re talking about the actual world, F is not going to be a property that makes these people “massively different” in your sense from typical men. F-people are going to be very similar mentally to typical men in lots and lots of ways. Would you disagree with this so far? Again, I’m speaking of some mental profile that could be realistically imagined to describe “female minds” in the actual world.

    If you agree, then this also seems extremely likely: there are a fair number of people that any competent speaker would call “men” (any competent doctor or scientist would consider male, men, etc.) whose psychology is highly F-like, and more F-like (or more F-like in important ways) than a fair number of people that any competent speaker would call “women”. This is why the notion of a manly woman or an effeminate man is familiar and ordinary and found across many different cultures, I assume–because it’s been a normal human perception going way back that men can have a more or less masculine or male personality (etc) and women can have a more or less feminine or female personality (etc). Now you could say that the mental traits we have in mind when describing someone as a “manly woman” (for example) aren’t those that make up F (whatever its precise nature). So you wouldn’t have to deny that all such actual descriptions have been false. (Though in that case it would be hard to believe that in all the countless generations of human experience people haven’t acquired a pretty good general understanding of the most important typical differences between male and female minds.) Still, it’s also likely on _any_ realistic account of typical female psychology–evolved female psychology, for example–there are going to be some people that competent speakers (doctors, scientists, etc) would call “men” who have that kind of psychology. You could propose that we change our criteria for distinguish female humans from males (but why?) but I don’t see how you can claim that your criterion is even roughly in line with our actual use of words and concepts.

    At the risk of belaboring the point, we have countless basic ordinary procedures and customs and beliefs that make no sense if merely having an F-mind or an F-ish mind is sufficient (or seems intuitively to be sufficient to competent speakers, etc.) Think of the subject of this post. Before maybe a week ago, doctors and nurses have never worried that they’re misclassifying babies because they haven’t yet found out what kind of personality the baby will have at age 40–whether it will be more introverted or maternal or conscientious or agreeable, etc. That’s just not normally considered relevant to figuring out that the baby is female, i.e., the kind of human who will grow to be a girl, then a woman. Evolutionists don’t worry that their theories about the origins of sexual dimorphism might be wrong if it turns out that millions of years ago the proto-humans they call ‘females’ didn’t have this mental property F.

    So if your position is that your understanding of the term or concept ‘female’ is based in ordinary usage or cultural norms or science, I have no idea what you’re thinking. Is there even one example of an ordinary or traditional or scientific use of this concept where its application conditions are set _merely_ by some range of psychological dispositions or interests or whatever it may be that you think makes up property F? And even if you could come up with some examples–and I can’t even think of one, aside from some specific version of transgender theory–aren’t there overwhelmingly more examples, and more conceptually basic and central examples, where these traits are treated as if they were irrelevant? Your view, it seems, is that all along people have been massively mistaken about all this, e.g., the doctors should wait at least a few years to find out about the baby’s interests and maybe “subtle differences” in psychology before saying “It’s a girl”… Is that what you claim?

    “If there are – say – many subtle differences between female and male minds, that’s enough to make mind the deciding factor; I don’t know what the extend of the real life differences is, exactly, but both evolutionary considerations and direct observations (both anecdotal and scientific) support the conclusion that there probably are many subtle differences (and perhaps a couple of less subtle ones).”

    I agree that all kinds of evidence supports that conclusion. Actually I think it’s about as obvious as anything in human life. But, again, is there any argument for the further claim that “that’s enough to make mind the deciding factor”?

    “Again, it’s not about stereotypes. And I don’t know that their psychologies are so different – but even if they were, that would not mean their psychologies are like those of the opposite sex. It seems pretty improbable.”

    I’m using “stereotypes” in a non-pejorative sense: stereotypes are just ideas about what is typical or normal. And I’m pretty sure it _is_ about stereotypes, because it’s _very_ improbable that human beings over the millenia have failed to develop some pretty accurate ideas about what is typical for boys and girls, men and women. At least, they’re not likely to have been too far off with respect to psychological traits that matter in human life–that girls and women are more emotional and person-oriented, that boys and men are more inclined to rational and object-oriented thinking, that women prefer to be led by men rather having to lead them, etc. In addition, if you’re interested in the evolutionary angle, most of the stereotypes are well supported by reasonable evolutionary hypotheses (e.g., female sexual restraint, hypergamy not polygamy, lower aggression and higher agreeableness, higher EQ, inter-personal orientation, on and on…) So there are lots of good reasons for thinking that the female mind is pretty much what we’ve always believed it to be.

    No doubt some of the stereotypes are wrong, and some reflect arbitrary cultural stuff more than nature, but overall it’s likely we have a pretty good idea about the important things. So I don’t know why it would seem “improbable” that some men have female or feminine (ish) minds. As you yourself say, development is complicated and lots of weird things can happen or go wrong. Acculturation or early childhood trauma could be causes, or something in fetal development, or any number of things. And, anyway, assuming that people have been roughly right about the important stuff, it is a completely normal and traditional idea across history and culture that some men are effeminate–even really super-duper effeminate. Is there any reason why it would be improbable that “their psychologies are like those of the opposite sex”? Because in my experience it seems there are lots and lots of people just like that. A boy who’s sensitive, introspective, artistic, uninterested in sports or competition with other boys, maternal, attracted to other boys or men, etc. Add any number of other (stereo)typically feminine traits or dispositions and you’re going to find lots of people who have those traits but who’d be called “boys” or “men” by most of us.

  31. “One key point is that empirical factors inform what is necessarily the case very often. For example, water is H2O, and XYZ on Twin Earth would not be water, but if we had found that water on Earth is composed of different stuff in different places (especially, in different people), then a functional metaphysics would have held for water, and then XYZ on Twin Earth would have been water.”

    Yes, this is a key point! And if we apply the same reasoning to the concept ‘woman’ or ‘female’ we’re going to find that the class of people ostended since forever when teaching the concepts have very different psychological traits, and that (therefore) we were not ostending any particular set of purely psychological traits. What kinds of things were we actually picking out all along? Well, I’m pretty sure that what they all had in common was being naturally built for a certain reproductive role (with all kinds of psychological and other traits as consequences, for sure). But, setting aside the weird case of Jenner or other cases like that, there’s no evidence that we were in reality pointing out a certain kind of psychology.

    You ask what _exactly_ is that role. Well, I don’t think anyone needs to have a strict philosophical analysis of it in order to identify it–and I assume you’d agree with the general point, since you appear to have no particular views about the nature of the female mind, beyond thinking that there probably is such a thing. But why isn’t it enough to say that women are the humans who get impregnated and give birth, i.e., the kind naturally built for that role or capacity? I’m struggling to imagine how that could be controversial.

    “Granted, there is no psychological thing that could be the referent. But what could be the thing?
    It is not the way they mate – they mate in many different ways… ‘Role’ seems to indicate behavior. But again, behaviors vary widely.””

    Is there a species where the female impregnates the male, where ‘his’ eggs get fertilized by ‘her’ sperm or something like that? I think pregnancy and birth and the whole suite of functions and behaviors and dispositions associated with all of that serve well _enough_ to mark a very ancient, important distinction in human life. Good enough for human purposes and interests, to which our concepts are geared. But if you think it’s not ‘clear’ enough, maybe because there’s some weird species very remote from humans where we can make the case that ‘females’ are the impregnators (etc), I don’t see how your own proposal could be better or even equally clear and acceptable. You can try to specify some particular psychological profile as an analysis of ‘the female mind’ but then, if it actually fits most women, it’s not going to fit at least some. Or you can leave it unanalyzed and vague, but then you should be pressing yourself on this point: “what could be that thing? ‘mind’ seems to indicate some set of psychological traits, but traits vary widely”, etc.

    “…a person with male sexual and reproductive organs and a female mind just does not have the kind of reproductive capacity that would be normal for her.”

    Why can’t we just say that _he_ does not have the kind of mind that would be normal for human beings of his sex? Sure, “it’s normal for a certain sort of mind to have some sort of reproductive capacity” but in my view that just means that people with that reproductive capacity–whose natural development tends that way–also tend to have a certain sort of mind, probably as a result of evolution (and/or God). This is what people normally have in mind when they say that (e.g.) Richard Simmons is effeminate or Margaret Thatcher was kind of masculine, or that Jane is a tomboy. They assume that there’s a normal kind of mind for women, and a different one for men, and they judge that some women have a male or male-like mind rather than the one that women normally have–not that the people in question are men with abnormal bodies!

    “The most likely scenario is that ‘female’ – like many other words – has more than one meaning, or else, there is no underlying referent, and instead it’s a disjunction of (probably vague) things.”

    This isn’t likely unless it’s also likely that doctors, scientists, prophets and preachers, laymen and most of the rest of humanity are just talking past each other whenever they discuss these topics (or each person is unknowingly switching languages all the time). Consider an inference:

    ‘God created woman. Women sometimes suffer from PMS. Therefore, God created people who sometimes suffer from PMS.’

    Does that seem like an equivocation to you? I’m pretty sure that it’s valid, even if we don’t have a perfectly rigorous analysis of the meaning or referent of ‘woman’ in either premise.

    “You say I ‘need to provide’ a plausible scenario with no such history. Do I need to provide it in order to do what? In order to convince you?”

    Well I assume you’re trying to convince someone, if not me, or at least to make arguments that might make me or someone reconsider their old-fashioned ideas about sex. But what I meant was that you need to provide a scenario with no such history if your argument is going to work on its own terms: if it’s going to be a case where _all_ that makes a person count as a woman is some set of facts about psychology (as opposed to seemingly superfluous psychology plus seemingly relevant history).

    “Alice leaves on Earth, in a male body, but she’s a woman. On a very distant planet beyond the observable universe, as a result of a quantum freak event (or intervention by a sufficient powerful alien, demon, or whatever we call it), Alice 2 comes into existence. Alice 2 has exactly the same mind and body as Alice (including Alice’s memories, etc.), but the memories are fake, she has no past, etc. But Alice 2 is still a woman.”

    I don’t follow this new scenario. You say it’s a continuation of scenario 3, which includes this:

    “Alice is now in a male body. She’s still a woman.”

    If what you mean is that, in your new scenario 5, we’re _retaining_ the idea that Alice was born in a female body and lived there for a long time prior to a ‘mind swap’, scenario 5 is _still_ one in which her history might be what makes her “still a woman” regardless of what happens later. So you haven’t provided a case where there’s no such history. On the other hand, if you’re bracketing the history in scenario 3, scenario 5 begins with the stipulation that Alice is “in a male body” and “she’s a woman”. Why should anyone accept this stipulation? What is it about Alice that makes her a woman? Are we to assume that some purely psychological facts make her one? Then I repeat the bunch of arguments from ordinary usage, custom, science, etc. (And doesn’t that make the stipulation doubtful, at least?)

    Setting that aside, focus just on Alice 2. What makes _her_ a woman? If it’s just relevant similarities with Alice 1, then again either history is being smuggled in or it isn’t. If it’s in there, I think she might count as a woman, because of her history. If it’s not in there, I repeat the same old arguments as before. I’m not sure what Alice 2 adds to the scenario in either case.

    Let me raise a further question here. If you yourself are not sure what exactly might constitute a female mind, so that you’re not willing to rely on ‘stereotypes’ in characterizing Alice’s mind, how do you even know what you’re imagining here? Just that, in the abstract, there is some particular kind of mind that women tend to have–its precise nature largely unknown–and Alice has that kind of mind. I don’t know how you can evaluate the intuitive likelihood that this mysterious property makes her a woman, or female. When I think of the story that way, I find it hard to know what my intuitions are.

    Here’s a different sci-fi scenario, if that matters: Gurgnuuz316^ is a mountain range on Alpha Centauri that the gods have decided to make self-conscious and, as it happens, has the kind of mind that the humans we call ‘women’ have. Since no particular set of memories or beliefs is necessary for having that kind of mind (I assume) Gurgnuuz316^ has none of those. Metaphysically possible, I guess, if not nomologically. Would this too be a woman, according to you? I think you’re going to say yes, but doesn’t that seem pretty absurd even to you–that a mountain range is a woman?

    • Jacques,

      I’ve had to cut the reply in parts; otherwise, it would not get through. So, here’s the first part:

      In light of your replies in this thread and the previous ones, before I address your latest specific points I’m going to explain how I’m going about making assessments in these sort of scenarios, and then a comment about strategy.

      As an example, I’ll being with a much less controversial case (but still there is debate): Is XYZ on Twin Earth water?
      When I think about it, considering that water here on Earth is H2O, my intuitive assessment is that XYZ is not water. Given that I have an intuitive grasp of the meaning of the term “water” and I’m a competent English speaker (though I’m not a native, I’m factoring this in and I don’t think it’s a factor in these cases; I’ll leave that aside to make it shorter, but I can ellaborate if you like), that’s an excellent reason to conclude that XYZ on Twin Earth is not water. Now, that is not an invincible piece of evidence. There are other factors that might lead me to the opposite assessment (or weaken my assessment, etc.). So, let’s take a look: you mention reflective equilibrium, and how a certain belief fits with the rest of one’s beliefs. So, I’ll consider that. It turns out that the assessment that XYZ is water on Twin Earth fits neither better nor worse than its negation with the rest of my beliefs. So, that’s no reason to doubt my assessment.
      Enter Marcus Arvan: he’s a philosopher who does not share that intuitive assessment, and wonders whether philosophers who share his assessment have somehow been pressured into conformity.
      So, there is disagreement. That’s a reason to doubt my assessment, so I try to find potential sources of error, either in my assessment, or in his (e.g., some emotional commitment to some religion or ideology). But I can’t find any such sources, either in my case, or in his. So, what’s going on?

      Maybe there is a source of bias that I just haven’t been able to find, but it seems improbable in a case like this. Who cares so much about the term “water”? I mean, what source of bias could there be? It’s not as if he’s staked his career on that, or anything, and as for me, I don’t have anything at stake, either.

      It seems probable to me that he and I simply do not mean the same by “water”. The term was defined ostensibly as usual, but it maybe he and I unconsciously ended up tracking different things, so we ended up not meaning the same. In realistic scenarios, communication does not break down because surely the referent will be the same when we’re talking about actual instances of water we run into (in common speech, there is some tolerance, so water does not need to be pure water, but I’ll leave that aside since it’s not relevant to the central point here), but when it comes to hypothetical scenarios in question, the differences in meaning come to light.

      So, my next step is to try to assess what other people say about the scenario. That would be a way of trying to ascertain what usage is common, if there is more than one.
      It turns out that nearly all philosophers make the same assessment I make. That is good evidence that XYZ would not be H2O, in the usual meaning of the words. But as I pointed out, there is the matter of whether there is significant disagreement but philosophers have been pressured into conformity. It’s a possibility, and while that might happen with some philosophers, it seems pretty unlikely to me that there isn’t a majority who assess that XYZ is not water – this is not a hot topic, and something like a majority of dissenters would be known by now.
      There is also the possibility that philosophers have an unusual understanding of the term (i.e., not similar to the rest of the population), though that is not likely, either. Why would philosophers be unusual about this particular matter? (also, I’m not a philosopher, though I admit I haven’t collected evidence from other non-philosophers, and it’s usually difficult to do so, as non-philosophers tend to not understand the issue).

      All in all, I reckon that there probably is more than one usage of “water”, but in the by far most common sense of the term, XYZ on Twin Earth is not water, given that water is composed of H2O on Earth (if there had been no common composition of water on Earth, then XYZ on Twin Earth would be water, so here the empirical result about what water is composed of on Earth informs the assessment of what water is, but that’s because the meaning of “water” is sensitive to such empirical factors).
      Still, there is room of course for more evidence as always, and I would change my mind if such evidence were forthcoming (e.g., in the form of studies in which most people seem to understand the question and reckon that XYZ would be water).

      So, now let’s address one of the controversial cases under consideration, namely P with a female mind and a male body (including, by stipulation, brain).
      As I already said, with some caveats, I reckon that P is probably a woman (though there are also empirical issues to be resolved, but probably).
      Now, what about the rest of my beliefs?
      It turns out that, just as in the case of water and H2O, the assessment that P is a woman fits neither better nor worse than its negation with the rest of my beliefs. So, that’s not a problem, and gives me no reason to doubt the assessment that P is a woman.
      What about your assessment that P is a man?
      That gives me room to suspect P might not be a woman, so I try to look for potential sources of error, like biases, on my side or yours.
      On my side, I have not been able to find any potential sources. In particular, there is nothing at stake for me, other than trying to figure out the truth. I’m not going to be affected personally, and neither will be any person close to me, by an assessment in one direction or the other. Also, I have no religion and/or ideology implying that P is a man or that P is a woman, or anything else about P. While one might always raise the issue of potentially hidden sources of bias, that sort of general skepticism is not a significant objection to my assessment, just as generally the fact that one is not infallible is not a significant objection to other assessments.

      So, I reckon maybe you are making a mistake, or maybe you and I simply use the word differently (in which case, either one of us made a mistake before, by failing to grasp for some reason the meaning of the term “women”, or both usages are common among competent speakers).

      I look then for potential sources of error, like biases, on your side, and I find that you seem to be committed to some form of conservative Christianity and/or some Thomistic-like sort of view. On that sort of view, at least by the assessment of nearly all of those who hold them, the view that P is a man fits better. While I would understand why you – given those beliefs; I don’t think you should have them in the first place, but that’s another issue – would reckon that P is a man, I also reckon that those are false beliefs, and as such, potential sources of error.
      Another potential source of error is that the people whom you would identified as being on your side (and you have been talking about taking sides, said that I had to take a side, etc.) are strongly opposed to transgender claims, and so are you, and you appear to think that an assessment that P is a woman would have very bad consequences if the belief were to spread (it would not, as it turns out, and in fact, I reckon strategically it would likely to be better for your side to sidestep the matter altogether); at least, that is what your reaction to the claim that a person with a female mind would probably be a woman indicates.

      So, I reckon I have less chances of making an error here than you do. Still, this is not a closed case by any means. Those are potential sources of error on your part, but maybe there is no error on your part, and you just use the term “woman” in a way different from the way in which I use the term “woman” – just as people sometimes use the term “water” differently, as I argued above.

      So, I would be interested in testing the matter by presenting the scenarios to others. Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult to test usage in a case like this, because – unlike in the “water” case -, nearly everyone seems already strongly committed to a position on any and all matters regarding transgender claims, and they tend to become defensive and/or hostile when asked. You can say there are good reasons in the case of those on your side, but regardless, the point is that this fact is a significant problem for a person trying to figure out common usage by testing how others respond.

      As of now, I reckon that P would be a woman in the way I intuitively grasp the meaning of the term “woman” – I see no reason to think I’m biased on this -, and also that probably that is also the most common usage of the term in the present-day – since I have no strong reason to suspect that I failed to properly grasp the meaning of the term. But it’s a tentative assessment. In fact, when I have more time (not in the short term; this thread has already taken way too long), I will try to find venues where I can ask these kinds of questions, and test the different hypotheses.

      All that said, ‘d like to make some strategic considerations (you mentioned helping the arguments of your side. Based on previous experience, I’m not optimistic about my chances of persuading anyone of upgrading their strategy, but I’ll give it a shot since I don’t have any better chance at persuading people of anything else related to these matters, and since I’m already writing, why not?).

      The current strategy on your side does not appear to be working. So, here’s an argument I would be more inclined to make – which I already sketched, but in greater detail: (obviously, an argument to engage in serious discussion, not a call to arms).

      Some people with female sexual organs claim that they are men, and some people with male sexual organs claim that they are women. But how do they know? How can they figure that out?
      Let’s consider for example the case of person A, who has female sexual organs and claims to be a man. On what basis does A reckon that A is a man?

      It’s surely not on the basis of A’s sexual organs. It’s also not on factors such as the face, whether that person has a beard, broad shoulders, things like that – and if it were, that would be an improper assessment: after all, if we see a person with a beard or broad shoulders but a vagina, it would not be epistemically rational on the basis of what we know to conclude that A is a man.

      So, what is it?

      A more or less widespread belief among the left is that there is no such thing as a female mind or a male mind. But if this is so, then it seems that A is mistaken, because A does not have a male mind, and A has female sexual organs. So, what might make A a man?

      Now, let’s say that the common belief in question is false, and that there is such thing as a female or a male mind. Then, two questions arise:

      1. Does A have a female mind, a male mind, or something in between?
      2. If A has a male mind but female sexual organs, is A a man, a woman, or neither?

      Let’s leave 2. aside, and focus on 1.
      What is the evidence that A has a female mind?
      Sure, A has priviledged knowledge about A’s mind, but not about the minds of others. How does A know that A has a mind like men, rather than women?
      Perhaps, intuitive observations of the behavior of men and women?
      Perhaps, but then again, given that A has developed normal female sexual organs, at least much of her body is responding to hormones (and any other factors involved in sexually characteristic development) normally. Is it more probable that A’s brain developed so abnormally that A ended up with a male brain (or at least, the parts of the brain that correlates to the differences between male and female minds), or that A is just making a mistake in assessing the minds of other people, and thus mistakenly thinking A’s mind is like the minds of males?
      It seems to me the latter is more probable, but at the at the very least, it would be epistemically irrational on my part, based on the information so far, to reckon that A has a male mind.

      So, in particular, and on the basis of the assessment above, given the present state of the evidence it would be irrational for me to believe that A is a man.

      How about some innate sense of gender?
      Do we humans have an innate sense of gender?
      Can A base A’s assessment on that sense?

      Let’s consider cases:

      If we humans do not have such sense, then for the same reasons explained above, it would be epistemically irrational on my part to believe that A is a man.
      If we humans do have such sense, then our sense of gender needs to have a way of distinguishing whether not just us, but whether other people are men or women; otherwise, our sense of gender would not be able to pick which category we belong into.

      So, how does our innate sense of gender go about assessing whether people are men or women?

      If it’s on the basis of non-behavioral traits alone, then A’s sense of gender is malfunctioning. We can see this easily: if we see someone with female sexual organs, with no other information, we would classify that person as a woman, and certainly not as a man. But if behavior does not count, then A’s sense of gender has nothing but observations about A’s own looks (including the way A’s sexual organs look), and about how other people look. And on that classificatory scheme – as it has been the case historically – we would classify A as a woman.

      So, let’s say that the human innate sense of gender uses behavior as a means of classifying a person as a man or a woman (on its own, or in addition to some non-behavioral traits), and A’s own innate sense of gender classifies A as a man. Now, as before, at least much of her body is responding to hormones (and any other factors involved in sexually characteristic development) normally. What is more probable: that A’s brain developed so abnormally that A ended up with a male brain (or at least, the parts of the brain that correlates to the differences between male and female minds), or that A’s sense of gender is malfunctioning at some point?

      I’d say the latter is more probable, but at least, on that basis and with no further evidence, it would be epistemically irrational on my part to believe that A is a man.

      So, based on the evidence available so far, it’s rational for me to assess that A is probably a woman, and it would be epistemically irrational to believe that A is a man.
      If more information about A’s psychology is given, perhaps that assessment would need to be updated.
      But in any event, and given that A has female sexual organs, unless I have conclusive evidence (i.e., the level of evidence that rationally justifies belief) that A has a male mind, believing that A is a man would be irrational. Now, if conclusive evidence of that is presented, the relevant question would be 2. above. But we’re not there yet. There is no conclusive evidence to justify a belief that A has a male mind, or even the more tentative assessment that A probably has a male mind.

      Now, as to your more recent points: (see next part).

    • Jacques,

      Here’s part 2:

      Is there any reason for this other than a personal intuition?

      As in the case of water and H2O, or generally philosophical discussions about what counterfactual scenarios, I assess the matter by my intuitive grasp of the terms (see above for details). That’s normal procedure so to speak. When there are reasons to suspect that something is not right (such as some other people making assessments to the contrary), then I look for potential sources of bias, etc. (see above).
      No, I’m not relying on any sort of general principle.

      “If members of kinds K and K* are massively different in respect R then R-differences are sufficient for being a member of K or K*”?

      No, that would be false.
      And the most direct way of testing and falsifying it would be to come up with scenarios in which one intuitively realizes immediately that it does not hold.

      Because that’s false. Humans and blue whales are very different with respect to size but it doesn’t follow that being the size of a typical blue whale is sufficient for being one, or that dwarf whales barely bigger than humans are humans.

      Yes, that’s a perfectly good way of using our intuitive understanding of the terms “human” and “blue whale” to falsify the proposed principle. General principles are generally tested and falsified in cases where intuitions are clear, like this one. But I’m not using a general principle. Rather, I’m using my intuitions in the specific case in question.

      Or is the principle that massive _mental_ differences between kinds are sufficient?

      As I mentioned above, I’m not using a general principle, but rather, I’m using my intuitions in the specific case – which is also the way you’re properly debunking the general principles you’re considering.

      So, what we have – as usual – is a difference of intuitions. What to do? I already explained above what I do. I would not expect you to agree with my assessments, but hopefully at least it becomes clear to you how I’m making the assessments I’m making. As I said, I will try to present these sorts of scenarios to more people in the future when I can (not soon, probably), but it’s pretty difficult, given common reactions to these sorts of questions.

      Maybe there’s some other principle you’re assuming. But the bare assertion that big mental differences would make it “pretty clear” that a female mind is sufficient for being a woman goes against lots of scientific findings and common sense as well as ordinary use of the term. I mean, let’s stipulate that ‘F’ names some set of psychological properties that occur naturally in typical human woman (perhaps for evolutionary reasons). If we’re talking about the actual world, F is not going to be a property that makes these people “massively different” in your sense from typical men. F-people are going to be very similar mentally to typical men in lots and lots of ways. Would you disagree with this so far? Again, I’m speaking of some mental profile that could be realistically imagined to describe “female minds” in the actual world.

      As I said, “massively different” was the end of the spectrum. There is the question of what the actual differences are. But going by different scenarios, in what I think is the most realistic scenario (e.g., a lot of similarities, but also a lot of subtle differences, and perhaps a couple of bigger ones), the mental properties prevail.

      If you agree, then this also seems extremely likely: there are a fair number of people that any competent speaker would call “men” (any competent doctor or scientist would consider male, men, etc.) whose psychology is highly F-like, and more F-like (or more F-like in important ways) than a fair number of people that any competent speaker would call “women”.

      Regarding the first part (i.e., what their psychology would be like), I’m not sure what you mean by “fair number”, but if I get this right, I would say that that’s quite improbable, because the specific differences (at least, to a considerable extent) probably result from hormonal levels, even during fetal development, then during puberty, etc., and they are probably quite a few – not many massive differences, but many subtle ones.
      If a body is developed with normal male sexual organs, it’s very improbable that the brain failed to react to male hormones so much that it resulted in a female brain (or at least, all or most of the parts that make up the differences).

      As I said, I can’t rule that out that in a population of 7 billion individuals of a species with a complex brain and developing in all sorts of abnormal conditions (e.g., all sorts of pollutants in the air, water, etc.), there are some cases. But I wouldn’t bet on it, either. I’m undecided; I have insufficient info.

      As for what a competent speaker would say assuming there are some people like that, if we’re talking about what a competent speaker would say by taking a look at that person, dressed or not, and without knowing that the person has a female mind, then sure. I would say that too. On the other hand, if the competent speaker already knows that the person in question has a female mind and male sexual organs, I would say it would depend on the speaker, and I’m not sure what the majority would say, but it seems the assessments would very likely be almost always affected by people’s commitments. So, it’s very hard to test.
      But if you’re right that any competent speaker (well, not any: I wouldn’t, and I’m competent enough I think; we could go into translation and the like, but I think that’s an unnecessary complication; let’s say almost any) would call them “men” (and not due to some error, but that’s how they use the term), then if I see good evidence of that, I would conclude that they’re men, and that I got the meaning wrong.

      This is why the notion of a manly woman or an effeminate man is familiar and ordinary and found across many different cultures, I assume–because it’s been a normal human perception going way back that men can have a more or less masculine or male personality (etc) and women can have a more or less feminine or female personality (etc). Now you could say that the mental traits we have in mind when describing someone as a “manly woman” (for example) aren’t those that make up F (whatever its precise nature).

      I would say that they probably are a few among many, so they probably make up a small percentage. I would be surprised if they have all or most of the traits in question. Purely for example, I would expect most males classified as “effeminate” would still be on average far more inclined towards sex with a total stranger than the average female, more inclined to taking risks, etc.; there probably are also many other ways in which they’re more male-like.
      Now, you might ask about the most important, and then we have a question of importance, how to measure them, etc. But let me make this point clear: if it turns out that there are very few and minor differences, then I would be inclined to think that P is probably a man.

      (Though in that case it would be hard to believe that in all the countless generations of human experience people haven’t acquired a pretty good general understanding of the most important typical differences between male and female minds.)

      I don’t think that’s hard to believe. For one thing, traditional beliefs that people are strongly committed often get it wrong, and the commitment prevents correcting the problem. But I don’t think this is the biggest hurdle – not by a long shot. Rather, I think the differences are probably many and subtle, and the matter of future research in human psychology.
      But again, if the differences are much fewer and smaller than I thought, no problem – then P is a man, even by the way I understand the words.

      You could propose that we change our criteria for distinguish female humans from males (but why?) but I don’t see how you can claim that your criterion is even roughly in line with our actual use of words and concepts.

      What is our criteria for distinguishing?
      The usual way is to look at the person, fully clothed. That’s usually the only criterion available.
      Sometimes – less often – we know what a person’s sexual organs are, and that gives us another criterion, which is actually stronger in the sense it defeats the other in case of conflict.
      I don’t propose changing either criteria. They seem to be pretty good.
      Are those the only criteria?
      If we were talking about distinguishing women from men, I think the answer is clearly negative.
      For example, in one of the hypothetical scenarios I presented (e.g., Alice’s mind put in a male body), my assessment is that that is a woman. So, it seems clear to me that at least as I understand the word, there is at least one other criterion, which is stronger than either of the previous ones (or the two combined), even if in realistic scenarios, we don’t have the opportunity to use it. Now, I don’t think it’s a quirk of my understanding of the words: people who watch events like that in fiction seem to agree with me that that is a woman. We could discuss what the criterion actually is, but there clearly seems to be another one, which beats the others.

      So, what about the case of a person with a male brain and mind, but a female rest of the body (or vice versa)?
      I don’t know if there are such people, but if there are any, your assessment and mine differ (as for others, I already commented above). But this is not a matter of proposing a change in the criteria for distinguishing men from women.

      Now, let’s go back to your statement above. You did not mention men or women, but female and male humans. That raises the issue of whether Alice in Bob’s body is a male or a female. I would say that she has a female mind and a male body, and there is no further fact of the matter. But I don’t think I’m proposing changing the criteria, either. In the hypothetical case of a person with a female brain and mind and a male rest of the body, in the usual sense in biology (i.e., about gametes) that would be a male. I have no interest in changing that (not that I could, but I have no interest). It would still be the case that that would be a male with a female mind, and the contentious issue remains about whether that’s a woman or a man…but hold on. What is the debate about, exactly?

      My point is that if one can discuss all of those issues, the question of whether the person is a man or a woman or neither seems to be question about the semantics of the words “woman” and “man” that should not have important implications, beyond the importance one gives to the quirks of human language. The biological facts of the matter remain the same: a person has such-and-such brain, sexual organs, chromosomes, you name it. So, what about it?

      At the risk of belaboring the point, we have countless basic ordinary procedures and customs and beliefs that make no sense if merely having an F-mind or an F-ish mind is sufficient (or seems intuitively to be sufficient to competent speakers, etc.) Think of the subject of this post. Before maybe a week ago, doctors and nurses have never worried that they’re misclassifying babies because they haven’t yet found out what kind of personality the baby will have at age 40–whether it will be more introverted or maternal or conscientious or agreeable, etc. That’s just not normally considered relevant to figuring out that the baby is female, i.e., the kind of human who will grow to be a girl, then a woman. Evolutionists don’t worry that their theories about the origins of sexual dimorphism might be wrong if it turns out that millions of years ago the proto-humans they call ‘females’ didn’t have this mental property F.

      Now, you say “i.e., the kind of human being who will grow to be a girl”, and that “i.e.” seems to equate the two, which is the point of contention. But that aside, I don’t think doctors should be worried, for the following reasons:

      a. The classification is between male and female, not between man and woman. If “male” and “female” is meant in the sense in which the term is used in biology (i.e., about gametes), then there is no reason to worry. Or rather, even if there are people with F minds/brains and male rest of the body (which I don’t know there are), that does not affect the classification.
      b. If the classification is between male and female in some sense about whether the baby will grow up into a woman or a man eventually, then there is no reason to worry, either, since the probability that a person with male sexual organs would have a female mind seems to be minuscule.

      At any rate, doctors and nurses should not worry about misclassifying babies. Maybe they should worry about being demonized for trying to properly classified, at least in parts of the world. But whatever; that’s another story.
      As for “evolutionists” (what’s that? You mean biologists?), of course they do not worry. They define “male” and “female” in terms of how the gametes are. But that said, proto-humans also had female and male minds, even if the differences might have been somewhat different from what they are now. Some of the differences still hold, e.g., in preferences for multiple sexual partners, sex with strangers, risk-taking, and I would bet a good number do.

      So if your position is that your understanding of the term or concept ‘female’ is based in ordinary usage or cultural norms or science, I have no idea what you’re thinking.

      No, as I said, in that part of my post, I was talking about “woman”, not about “female”. By the terminology of science, femaleness is about gametes. By ordinary usage…as I said, there might be more than one ordinary usage, but at any rate, I was talking about the term “woman”.

      I agree that all kinds of evidence supports that conclusion. Actually I think it’s about as obvious as anything in human life. But, again, is there any argument for the further claim that “that’s enough to make mind the deciding factor”?

      Well, I consider the scenario in which there are such differences (which I’m pretty sure is true), and then I consider the scenario in which a person has a female mind and a male body (which I’m pretty sure never happened and will never happen), or a female mind and (relevant parts of the) brain and a male rest of the body (which either has never happened, or is extremely rare, in my assessment), and it seems to me that that would be a woman. That’s some evidence, but for sure if you intuitively reckon otherwise, that’s not strong evidence for you. Then again, you don’t seem to be presenting any evidence to the contrary, either. The evidence and arguments you give do not seem to be a problem, for the reasons I’ve been explaining.

      I agree that all kinds of evidence supports that conclusion. Actually I think it’s about as obvious as anything in human life. But, again, is there any argument for the further claim that “that’s enough to make mind the deciding factor”?

      I do not agree with that. I think there probably are plenty of subtle and difficult to catch differences.

      At least, they’re not likely to have been too far off with respect to psychological traits that matter in human life–that girls and women are more emotional and person-oriented, that boys and men are more inclined to rational and object-oriented thinking, that women prefer to be led by men rather having to lead them, etc.

      Actually, I don’t think there is any good evidence regarding being emotional or less rational, and I’m not sure about your other point. But even granting that, the differences are again probably many and subtle.

      In addition, if you’re interested in the evolutionary angle, most of the stereotypes are well supported by reasonable evolutionary hypotheses (e.g., female sexual restraint, hypergamy not polygamy, lower aggression and higher agreeableness, higher EQ, inter-personal orientation, on and on…)

      I agree about some, disagree about others (e.g., female sexual restraint is not it; it’s more like female sexual selectivity. If they find a very attractive male, females would overall be likely to engage in sex, even cheating. But males overall are more likely to do that indiscriminately; I don’t see your evidence about IQ, etc.), though again, I think the differences are probably many more and more subtle. But due to time constraints, I would rather not engage in a debate about them, since we would end up presenting and discussing a very long list of pieces of evidence, it would take a very long time, and in any case, that would not have much of an impact on our discussion about the meaning of words here. I would say that if you’re right about all of those differences, as long as there are plenty others (which I’m pretty sure is the case), my previous assessments would not be significantly affected.

      Again, let me make it clear: if the differences are only those, and they’re tiny, I would agree that P is a man. I just do not agree that that’s probable.

      So I don’t know why it would seem “improbable” that some men have female or feminine (ish) minds.

      If you mean men with some more female-like mental traits, sure, I would agree. If you’re talking about men with predominantly female mental traits, I don’t know about that; I think if that exists at all, it’s very probably an extremely rare condition.

  32. Jacques,

    Here’s part 3:

    Yes, this is a key point! And if we apply the same reasoning to the concept ‘woman’ or ‘female’ we’re going to find that the class of people ostended since forever when teaching the concepts have very different psychological traits, and that (therefore) we were not ostending any particular set of purely psychological traits.

    “Female”, for sure, but when it comes to “woman”, while I think sometimes different women have some very different psychological traits, there are some traits that are characteristic of women in general, and those hold for nearly all cases in ostensive definitions (not all, because sometimes, people making ostensive definitions pick a wrong example, but it’s rare).

    What kinds of things were we actually picking out all along? Well, I’m pretty sure that what they all had in common was being naturally built for a certain reproductive role (with all kinds of psychological and other traits as consequences, for sure).

    But now it’s not about meaning anymore. The word “water” does not mean “H2O”, even though that’s what all instances of water have in common.
    But that aside, if we’re talking about women – not about females in general -, maybe there is a certain natural reproductive role in common, but also a certain sort of mind in common. If we’re talking about females in general, surely there is no common psychological trait, but then again, there is no common natural reproductive role as far as I can tell (unless you count gamete size; more below). As I mentioned, if you have any candidate at all for that reproductive role, please let me know.

    As for gametes, the question is: what happens when a female is infertile, produces no gametes, and is still a female?
    I guess you could say that females all share having such-and-such gametes when their reproductive organs function properly; a potential difficulty is that the development of a female instead of a male (or vise versa) is possibly the result of some malfunctioning, but maybe one could say that one has to consider normal functioning of the organs even if they developed as a result of a malfunctioning of some other part of the body, or something like that.
    So, you get that females have such-and-such gametes.

    And yet, when Alice is placed in a male body, she has male gametes, so she’s a male in this sense. But she’s a woman. So, in this sense of “female”, a woman need not be a female. So, that one does not work; let’s go back to your assessment “I’m pretty sure that what they all had in common was being naturally built for a certain reproductive role (with all kinds of psychological and other traits as consequences, for sure)”. But I do not see any candidates for a certain reproductive role that works across all species. In fact, it seems pretty likely to me that there isn’t any such global female role (again, gametes aside), given the massive differences in reproductive behavior among species. As before, I would ask if you have any candidates, in order to test your theory.

    You ask what _exactly_ is that role.

    At least a candidate, because it seems clear to me that there is no such role. The differences in reproductive behavior are just massive across the animal kingdom. And that’s without even counting plants.

    Well, I don’t think anyone needs to have a strict philosophical analysis of it in order to identify it–and I assume you’d agree with the general point, since you appear to have no particular views about the nature of the female mind, beyond thinking that there probably is such a thing. But why isn’t it enough to say that women are the humans who get impregnated and give birth, i.e., the kind naturally built for that role or capacity? I’m struggling to imagine how that could be controversial.

    Let me try to explain.

    A. If we are talking about a natural role that is shared by all females – not just humans, but all female organisms -, I think there isn’t any. In fact, it seems pretty clear to me that there isn’t any (again, gametes aside). Even if you limit the concept to animals, it’s pretty clear to me that there isn’t any. But since it would take forever to try to rule out anything you could come up with if I don’t know what sort of thing you have in mind, I’m asking for candidates. I’m not asking for candidates in humans alone, but in all females, because you seem to be saying that there is such a role.

    B. If you’re talking about human females, then there might be a natural reproductive role that is shared, but I would say that there are also shared psychological traits.

    C. That’s as far as female goes. Regarding women, the matter is different. You say you’re struggling to see how this could be controversial. Here’s how: is being naturally built for getting impregnated and giving birth determined, at least partially, for how the mind/brain operates, which memories it has, etc.? If the answer is negative, then I would go with the scenario of the brain of a woman placed in a rest of the body of a man. That’s still a woman. I would also go for the weird quantum fluctuation variant to block histories. That’s still a woman. So, those look like counterexamples (and that’s without counting the case in which the person just develops with the brain and mind of a female and a male rest of the body, and in which we disagree for the reasons I’ve been explaining, and I hope I’ve explained clearly enough by now).

    Is there a species where the female impregnates the male, where ‘his’ eggs get fertilized by ‘her’ sperm or something like that?

    Interesting question(s).

    The egg is the female gamete, so so by the definition of “female” and “male” in science, only females make eggs. In this sense, however, it’s consistent – though of course false – to say that in usual cases of human reproduction, the man places an egg in the vagina, and then a smaller cell produced by the woman fertilizes the cell. So, in this sense of “male” and “female”, it’s consistent to say that men are normally females.

    Now, in some ostensive definition of “female”, it’s not implied that females produce eggs (ostensive definitions of “female” say nothing about gametes), but I guess arguably, gametes of a certain kind (bigger and not mobile) are what all females have in common, in the “water is H2O” sense, rather than in a conceptual sense.

    Regarding impregnation, the answer is affirmative: in seahorses (there are many species), the female deposits her eggs inside the male’s pouch. The male then fertilizes them, and gets pregnant. The eggs develop, with their own nutrients (provided by the yolk from the female), and possibly also there is nutrition from the male (I’m not sure this has been established; I’d suggest to look it up if you’re interested). After the eggs hatch, the male gives birth to live young.

    In addition to that, there are plenty of species in which fertilization is external, so the female never gets impregnated in any way.

    I think pregnancy and birth and the whole suite of functions and behaviors and dispositions associated with all of that serve well _enough_ to mark a very ancient, important distinction in human life. Good enough for human purposes and interests, to which our concepts are geared. But if you think it’s not ‘clear’ enough, maybe because there’s some weird species very remote from humans where we can make the case that ‘females’ are the impregnators (etc), I don’t see how your own proposal could be better or even equally clear and acceptable. You can try to specify some particular psychological profile as an analysis of ‘the female mind’ but then, if it actually fits most women, it’s not going to fit at least some. Or you can leave it unanalyzed and vague, but then you should be pressing yourself on this point: “what could be that thing? ‘mind’ seems to indicate some set of psychological traits, but traits vary widely”, etc.

    There are 54 known species of seahorses, and the female is the impregnator in the sense that she deposits the eggs inside the male, even though the male makes the sperm that fertilizes the eggs. In any case, the male gets pregnant. But also, there are many, many more species in which fertilization is external, and neither males nor females get pregnant, or anything resembling getting pregnant. And that’s counting only animals. I was asking for a feature that would work on all females – not just humans – because you linked your proposal with something that all females allegedly have in common; if you want leave that aside, that’s fine with me.

    Now, on my proposal, “woman” would be a cluster concept, so they wouldn’t have to have all of the mental properties. It seems to me that maybe your proposal could be interpreted in that manner, given that you talk about a whole suite of functions and behaviors and dispositions… but then again, what you said earlier indicates more of an essentialist approach, i.e., based on their being naturally build for a certain role. Could you clarify, please?

    By the way, you also mention whole set of functions and behaviors and dispositions associated with that. Are you including mental properties as well, so that lacking enough of those behaviors and dispositions be enough to make an individual not a woman (even if that’s not enough to make that individual a man?), or are those not essential?

    Why can’t we just say that _he_ does not have the kind of mind that would be normal for human beings of his sex?

    I was considering how I would assess the matter in case you came up with some plausible candidate for a property shared by all females, and which is about reproductive role or capacity, as you had suggested. As far as I can tell, there isn’t any (see examples above), but applying the same strategy to your candidate for all human females, my intuitive analysis will be the same as before. Clearly, your analysis is different, so we have the following options (with small modifications for clarity in the case of my options):

    My two options are:

    AM-1. As examples from hypothetical scenarios show (e.g., a woman version of the Doctor in “Star Trek: Voyager”), there are women with no reproductive capacities at all. If they are also female, then it’s normal for a certain sort of mind to have some sort of reproductive capacity. In particular, an adult human being with male sexual and reproductive organs and a female mind is a woman who does not have the kind of reproductive capacity that would be normal for her.
    AM-2. Those hypothetical characters are women but not females. If so, then clearly “female” is not part of the meaning of “women”.
    As I said, I’m tentatively leaning towards 1.

    Your option is:

    J-1: An adult human being with male sexual and reproductive organs and a female mind is a man who does not have the kind of mind that would be normal for her.

    In my assessment, your alternative does not pass the test in hypothetical scenarios of different sorts (e.g., a male brain/mind in an otherwise male body, etc.).

    Sure, “it’s normal for a certain sort of mind to have some sort of reproductive capacity” but in my view that just means that people with that reproductive capacity–whose natural development tends that way–also tend to have a certain sort of mind, probably as a result of evolution (and/or God). This is what people normally have in mind when they say that (e.g.) Richard Simmons is effeminate or Margaret Thatcher was kind of masculine, or that Jane is a tomboy. They assume that there’s a normal kind of mind for women, and a different one for men, and they judge that some women have a male or male-like mind rather than the one that women normally have–not that the people in question are men with abnormal bodies!

    To say that it’s normal for a certain sort of mind to have some sort of reproductive capacity does not mean, as far as I know, that people with that reproductive capacity also tends to have a certain sort of mind. It seems consistent to say something like “Jenner has a female mind, and for that reason it would be normal for Jenner to have a vagina” (I believe that to be false, but I don’t find it contradictory, given the meaning of the terms); now, I’m not entirely sure you meant to make a claim of meaning, or the weaker claim that claims like that would be false, even if the claim about having a female mind is true.

    If you meant the weaker claim, we still disagree about that, so let’s consider your examples:

    I agree that Thatcher was a woman. I’m not sure she was very masculine, though. And I already addressed your previous examples – these ones are similar, and this is already far too long -, but here your objection seems to be that those who say that someone is a tomboy, etc., actually believe that that person has a male mind (not just somewhat more male-like than normal in certain respects, for example), they also believe that there are at least many (if subtle) differences between male and female minds, and they still consider that a tomboy is a woman. Sure, that would be good piece of evidence in support of your view, if that is what they believe. But I don’t think it is. At least, I surely do not believe that a tomboy actually has a male mind.

    Part of my evidence against J-1 is that in works of fiction, when it’s clear that a character has a female mind (e.g., mind swapping, brain implant, etc.), the public seems to have no problem identifying the character as a woman. How do you account for that?

    This isn’t likely unless it’s also likely that doctors, scientists, prophets and preachers, laymen and most of the rest of humanity are just talking past each other whenever they discuss these topics (or each person is unknowingly switching languages all the time). Consider an inference:

    That’s not at all the case. When scientists use the concept, they’re talking about some properties of gametes, and they do not talk past each other. Of course, a person is using the scientific term and talking to a person who is using a non-scientific usage, they do not mean the same, but since the referent in the actual world happens to overlap almost entirely, usually there would be no problem (and if there is, well that’s a problem).
    As for different common usages, then there is no problem in most cases, as people could pick from context which meaning is the same.

    Does that seem like an equivocation to you? I’m pretty sure that it’s valid, even if we don’t have a perfectly rigorous analysis of the meaning or referent of ‘woman’ in either premise.

    I said “female”, and was talking specifically about the word “female” in its general usage, including not only humans but all organisms. Your question is about “woman”, and is not the same; I did not say that “woman” or even that “human female” had different meanings…still, it might have more than one meaning, and people would have to realize by context.
    As for people talking past each other, it would not have to happen, but in any case, let’s go back to “water” for an example. It seems to me (see above) that at least some people use the word in a way such that XYZ on Twin Earth is water. If the percentage is non-negligible (say, 25%), then there is no reason to say they’re misusing the word, and yes, sometimes people would be talking past each other, strictly speaking. But it would not be very problematic in practice (though I do not think the percentage is nearly as high, given the degree of philosophical agreement. But I might be wrong).

    Well I assume you’re trying to convince someone, if not me, or at least to make arguments that might make me or someone reconsider their old-fashioned ideas about sex. But what I meant was that you need to provide a scenario with no such history if your argument is going to work on its own terms: if it’s going to be a case where _all_ that makes a person count as a woman is some set of facts about psychology (as opposed to seemingly superfluous psychology plus seemingly relevant history).

    I was trying to convince at least someone (hopefully) that it was not contradictory to make a claim like that. Now, I’m replying to your posts because you’re asking me question, raising interesting issues, etc., so it’s entertaining, and it helps me learn about your position and that of my other interlocutors. If I convince anyone, that’s a bonus, but it’s pretty unlikely…though I’m still not sure you still consider that it’s inconsistent to claim that a person with a female mind/brain and male sexual organs is a woman (or probably a woman). If you think it’s inconsistent, could you please derive a contradiction?

    I don’t follow this new scenario.

    Sorry if that was unclear. I’ll write down the whole scenario:

    Scenario 5:

    Bob is a man, and Alice is a woman. They live on Earth. Now, like in a movie, they swap bodies. Alice is now in a male body. She’s still a woman. Is she female?
    Let’s say Alice’s body is killed, and Bob with it. Alice is still there, but she has a male body. What then?
    Her body is male. Her mind is female. There is no further fact of the matter as to whether she’s female. But she’s a woman.

    On a very distant planet beyond the observable universe, as a result of a quantum freak event (or intervention by a sufficient powerful alien, demon, god, or whatever we call it), Alice 2 comes into existence. Alice 2 has exactly the same mind and body as Alice (including Alice’s memories, etc.), but the memories are fake, she has no past, etc. Is Alice 2 a woman, a man, or neither?

    In my assessment, Alice 2, like Alice, is a woman.

    If it’s just relevant similarities with Alice 1, then again either history is being smuggled in or it isn’t. If it’s in there, I think she might count as a woman, because of her history. If it’s not in there, I repeat the same old arguments as before. I’m not sure what Alice 2 adds to the scenario in either case.

    The idea is not to figure out what makes her a woman – I think her mind, of course, but that aside -, but rather, to ask whether, intuitively, Alice 2 is a woman. Do you think people would generally not regard Alice 2 as a woman?
    The purpose is of course to eliminate the history.

    Let me raise a further question here. If you yourself are not sure what exactly might constitute a female mind, so that you’re not willing to rely on ‘stereotypes’ in characterizing Alice’s mind, how do you even know what you’re imagining here? Just that, in the abstract, there is some particular kind of mind that women tend to have–its precise nature largely unknown–and Alice has that kind of mind. I don’t know how you can evaluate the intuitive likelihood that this mysterious property makes her a woman, or female. When I think of the story that way, I find it hard to know what my intuitions are.

    Consider the case of body swap. I don’t need to know the specific differences between male and female minds to know that the person has a female mind, and my intuitive understanding is that she’s a woman. I would, if asked about female minds, say “well, someone who has a mind like those”, and think of female human behavior. Not having a list of differences is not that much a problem.

    Perhaps, the following analogy would help (or not, but maybe): we don’t need to know that water is H2O, or how H2O behaves, or even know enough science to understand the term “H2O” in order to properly reckon that if there is an underlying thing such that all instances of water here on Earth are made of that (nearly entirely; there might be other things, like dissolved, etc.) – let’s call this thing “HJK”, then XYZ on Twin Earth is not water. But if there is no such underlying thing, then a functional analysis holds, and then XYZ on Twin Earth is water.

    Now, I do think that we know some of the differences between male and female minds, but there probably are many we don’t know. But even so, that’s not objection to making the analysis that if such differences exist, then P would be a woman, etc.

    Here’s a different sci-fi scenario, if that matters: Gurgnuuz316^ is a mountain range on Alpha Centauri that the gods have decided to make self-conscious and, as it happens, has the kind of mind that the humans we call ‘women’ have.

    I don’t think I can picture the scenario, because in that case, it does not look like the mountain range is self-aware or has a mind, but rather, that there is a mind trapped in the rock.

    Since no particular set of memories or beliefs is necessary for having that kind of mind (I assume) Gurgnuuz316^ has none of those.

    That’s an improbable assumption. A human or at least human-like mind – male or female – is a certain sort of mind, with some sort of basic beliefs about, say, object classifications and the like. If you take away all of the beliefs, that’s no longer a human-like sort of mind, male or female. But for that matter, I would say that’s so even if the body is that of a woman. Brain dead individuals are, in my assessment, no longer people. And surely they are not self-aware. And this rock would seem to be brain dead. Am I misreading the scenario? Please, clarify.

    Metaphysically possible, I guess, if not nomologically.

    It does not look even logically possible to me. For example, you’re saying it’s “self-conscious”. If you didn’t mean self-aware, that still implies self-aware. But that contradicts not having any beliefs. And it seems to me there are further problems. But I reckon I’m probably misreading the scenario. Could you elaborate, please?

    Anyway, as I said, I will try to ask the questions to more people in the future, when I can.

  33. Jacques,

    After further thinking about the mountain scenario, I’m not sure it’s strictly logically impossible to be self-aware and not have beliefs, though I’m pretty sure it’s metaphysically impossible.
    But in any event, I don’t think the mountain would be a female human mind, or similar. I think having a human-like sort of mind requires having beliefs. So, I reckon it’s not possible. Also, I don’t see in which sense a mountain would be self-aware, even if we add beliefs or whatever. I mean, how would the mind be associated to the mountain? The mountain does not even have any sort of senses, at all. Nor does it have a brain, etc. It’s a rock. So, my question would be: in which sense would the mind in question (even with beliefs; this is not the issue) be the mind of the mountain, rather than just a spirit without a body?

  34. Jacques,

    I’d like to ask you about the case I mentioned of a boy who lost his penis in a circumcision that went wrong, and was raised as a girl, or boys born without penises due to a malformation and were also raised as girls. The first one claimed to be a boy in the body of a girl from a young age, and most of the others also claimed to be boys. What do you make of those claims?
    I mean, what do you think they meant?
    I think the claims are true, but what I’m asking is how you think they figure out they were boys (if you think they really figured it out, rather than getting it right by sheer luck), and in the case of claims of being a boy in the body of a girl, whether you think they were making sense.

    Also, and with regard to our knowledge of differences between the minds of human males and females, I’d like to clarify something, because I think the fact that our exchange has focused partially on how much we know about it might give the impression that I deny we know anything about it. I do not. I think human males are generally more prone to violence, more prone to having sex with strangers, to cheating indiscriminately, generally more attracted to females than to other males, more inclined to taking risks, and more inclined to rough play when children, among other things.
    On the other hand, there are plenty of subtle matters in it’s not known whether there are difference and, if so, their extent, etc.; one example is how pain is felt (do females feel some sort of pains more intensely?), whether color vision is somewhat different (do females distinguish more colors?), the differences in specific intellectual capacities, if any (I know you think this one is already known, at least about IQ; maybe I just haven’t read enough about it. But in any case, there a lot of testing to do about intelligence about specific domains), different reactions to smells (e.g., Is there a distinct reaction sweat from females in different circumstances such as fertility through the month, or from young males, etc.?), some subtle changes in interests during puberty, and a lot of other things.

  35. I didn’t mean to stipulate that the mountain range has no beliefs or other contents, just that no _particular_ set of beliefs that women tend to have are necessary for having a female mind. Maybe some ‘basic’ beliefs that serve in object classification are necessary. I don’t know. Maybe a human mind is just a mind with certain basic dispositions and capacities and orientations. That makes sense to me: a newborn has a human mind though it probably has few or none of the contents of my mind. Anyway, this shouldn’t matter to you since you think there are non-human women. Let’s just stipulate that the gods implanted the kinds of dispositions and capacities (etc) that suffice for having a human female mind in the mountain range. (If you think that couldn’t suffice, how can you know that? You seem to have no firm opinions about what exactly constitutes the female mind, and you’re skeptical that our stereotypes are generally accurate…) And let’s add that the mountain range has various beliefs and desires and memories, etc. Who knows what they are exactly. So we’re not imagining self-awareness with no beliefs at all.

    You ask how the mind would be associated with the mountain. I don’t know. Magic? You say the mountain doesn’t have any senses at all. But maybe it does. It’s made of rock and has no brain. Okay, but why is that a problem? In this situation it happens that (by divine command) some big chunks of rock have thoughts and perceptions… We’re talking about what is possible under at least one logically possible set of natural laws, right? I have no reason to think this scenario isn’t possible in that sense. Admittedly, I have no real idea what we’re talking about. But that’s the same for your scenarios. A certain kind of mind, its contents largely or wholly unknown, gets attached somehow to a new brain or rest-of-body through some basically unspecified process. (“freak quantum event” or “evil alien” or whatever might as well be “magic” or “It just happens somehow”.) And then the resulting mind or mind-brain retains the relevant but unspecified features despite being now attached to a wholly different brain or rest-of-body. Okay. But how exactly does any of that work? Is there even a logically possible world where the laws of nature would permit this to happen? No one actually knows anything about this. We have no real idea of how mind and brain are related, how that unknown relation is related to the laws of nature, most of which are also unknown or not well understood, etc. Are your scenarios which you take to be relevant and useful in figuring out whether Jenner might be a man different in any deep or principled way from this (silly) scenario I’m proposing?

    You say your use or understanding of the term “woman” is “probably … the most common usage of the term in the present-day – since I have no strong reason to suspect that I failed to properly grasp the meaning of the term.”

    But haven’t I already (more than once) offered some pretty strong reasons for thinking that most people even today don’t use the word in the way that you’re describing? I want to emphasize, too, that we shouldn’t restrict ourselves to how the word is used “in the present-day” if that means giving some weight to the way it’s being used by proponents of transgenderism. People have been dividing humans into men and women since forever. Unless we’re supposed to assume (very implausibly) that people in the middle ages (for example) weren’t using terms basically synonymous with “man” and “woman”, we should consider how the word (and cognates) has been used in the past too.

    So I have to ask why you think it’s _probable_ that people commonly treat some unspecified set of mental traits as sufficient for a person to be a woman. I can only think of two uses: a specific version of transgender ideology and some thought experiments like yours. But what about the doctor saying “It’s a girl”, to take just one example? The doctor is going to agree to “Girls are female, boys are male”, and “Girls become women (if they live long enough and nothing goes wrong)”. The doctor is not going to agree to “If this baby ends up having a certain kind of mind that we can’t presently describe in any detail, then it is a boy and not a girl”. Not unless the doctor has been converted to a very recent and controversial theory about sex and gender. And this is true for doctors (nurses, teachers, parents) in every English speaking country over centuries. Or no? Do you disagree? I could offer lots of other examples of common, common sense uses. I don’t understand what your view is of all this. You deny that people have been talking this way for a really long time all over the world, or you think that these uses fit nicely with your view that just having a certain kind of mind is sufficient? Likewise, in ordinary language _now_ people often use “man” and “male”, “woman” and “female”, interchangeably. You find this in rap lyrics and dating profiles, affirmative action policies, just all over the place. Even transgender people tend to talk this way. Jenner would probably be insulted if you told him “Sure, you’re a woman but you’re not really female” or “MtF people aren’t female, they just resemble females”. So, if this matters, your suggestion that maybe being female is not necessary for being a woman isn’t even compatible with how these terms are used right now, despite transgenderism and all the rest of it. Can you explain again why you think your use or understanding is probably common? Is it just based on what Star Trek fans think about an imaginary alien?.

    “while I think sometimes different women have some very different psychological traits, there are some traits that are characteristic of women in general, and those hold for nearly all cases in ostensive definitions (not all, because sometimes, people making ostensive definitions pick a wrong example, but it’s rare).”

    And yet you also say that you don’t know which traits distinguish female minds from male ones, or whether there really is such a thing as a female mind. What are these traits “characteristic of women in general” that “hold for nearly all cases in ostensive definitions”? I think there are such traits, because I think we have some pretty accurate stereotypes. But how can you know that there are, unless you think you have some equally detailed account of the female mind? If you can offer any examples, I’m pretty sure we’re going to find men who have any or all of those traits. If you don’t know what we’re talking about and can’t offer examples, how can you be in a position to claim it’s “improbable” that some men have the relevant traits?

    “If they find a very attractive male, females would overall be likely to engage in sex, even cheating.”

    Selectivity causes restraint. This kind of thing really is quibbling. And there’s a massive amount of research and evidence on sex differences supporting very specific hypotheses largely in line with our stereotypes. This whole field makes sense only because researchers assume they can identify females and males (men and women) prior to knowing what their evolved mental traits ended up being. If any particular mental traits were sufficient, they shouldn’t assume this–it could turn out that those they call “men” and “male” in the evolutionary past were women and female after all. Nor do the evolutionists think that human women would become men if–maybe as a result of new selective pressures–they ended up having psychologies characteristic of men for the past millenia. As far as usage goes, this is pretty easy to test out, if you have the time. Just ask any evolutionary psychologist (for example) whether it’s possible for human women to undergo masculinizing but purely psychological changes in the course of future human evolution, and still be women at the end. For example, suppose that sexual selectivity is one of the traits of typical women now, but it won’t be in 200 years because of the Pill, the welfare state, all kinds of other cultural changes. Is the evolutionist going to say that, if there are enough similar mental changes, the resulting beings are men rather than women?

    “To say that it’s normal for a certain sort of mind to have some sort of reproductive capacity does not mean, as far as I know, that people with that reproductive capacity also tends to have a certain sort of mind. It seems consistent to say something like ‘Jenner has a female mind, and for that reason it would be normal for Jenner to have a vagina'”

    I don’t understand. “It’s normal for A and B to go together” could be interpreted in different ways. Why can’t it mean, in this case, that people with the female reproductive role tend to have certain mental traits, like sexual selectivity or higher agreeableness? It would also be consistent to say “Jenner has a male body, and for that reason it would be normal for Jenner to have a male mind”. That would be a more natural way of stating my view (if Jenner really does have a female mind, which I don’t believe).

    About seahorses, etc. I’m vaguely aware of this stuff. I don’t think I need to take any definite stand on it. Quite possibly our ordinary traditional concepts ‘male’ and ‘female’ aren’t well adapted to some exotic species remote from us, or they’re just indeterminate with respect to some of those. Or maybe we just made a mistake in assigning the sexes to some of these species. Or, more probably, the male is not really being ‘impregnated’ by the female. I don’t know that it matters much. Maybe I should define the reproductive role I have in mind (vaguely) as a cluster concept, sure. Where fertilization is external, there’s still one sex that does the fertilizing and the other that gets fertilized. It’s relevantly similar (enough) to the more familiar case of ‘impregnation’ in the strict sense. Why does this mean there’s no particular role? I can just say there’s a single role, which we initially learned to identify in the primordial past, associated with pregnancy and birthing and a suite of other behaviors and capacities… but the complete and precise characterization of that role–as applied across all species–is an open scientific and philosophical question. You think there’s (probably?) such a thing as the female mind, but you can’t say anything much about what exactly that kind of mind is like. Anything you might say about it will almost certainly be open to sea-horse-like counter-examples. To revert to the water example, someone in the middle ages might not have been able to characterize the nature or role or essence of water in a way that would fit perfectly with the most exotic or purely imaginary cases. So what? He was still right to think that water was a certain kind of stuff, that rain is water, etc. And if someone were to propose that gold could really be water provided that it had the right kind of economic properties, he’d rightly think that was really weird and incoherent.

    “I surely do not believe that a tomboy actually has a male mind.”

    How do you know what you believe about this, or should believe? If you have only a very tentative sketchy idea of the traits constitute the male mind as opposed to the female mind, and you don’t trust in stereotypes, shouldn’t it be an entirely open question for you whether the mental traits of the tomboy are male or male-like? Maybe you think this is just “improbable” because, regardless of what a male mind might be, it’s improbable that someone with a female body and brain could end up with that kind of mind. I would agree that it’s _less_ probable than her ending up with a female mind. But, again, given that we agree there are all kinds of complex developmental and neurological and social-cultural things that happen in the course of a person’s life, I don’t think you should regard this as _so_ improbable that you can dismiss the idea. Since you’re apparently concerned by counter-examples (e.g., the sea-horse) it seems your account commits you to the belief that there are no women with male minds and that there _could not_ be any (because then they’d be men not women). Would you really be willing to deny that _that_ is metaphysically possible, though? That even one person that all competent speakers would call a “man” could undergo just the right series of neurological and social processes as to end up with just the kind of mind that women have?

  36. Also, not that it matters much, but I’m not a Christian or a Thomist. My anger and disgust about this stuff has no basis in any of that. It’s worth pointing out that you yourself have already said things that seem to commit you to the conclusion that _very probably_ the _majority_ of people who are actually undergoing ‘gender reassignment’ are in situations that don’t meet your standards for coherence, let alone truth. For example, you think it’s improbable that Jenner is a woman. You think it’s improbable that people with male physiologies have female minds. So even by your standards, and quite apart from any debate about meaning or philosophy, it looks like large numbers of people are being encouraged to permanently mutilate their bodies on the basis of false beliefs about sex and gender. You’re arguing in effect that some possible form of transgenderism might make sense or even be true in some world. But if we look at the actual world and the actual ideology, you should agree that it’s false. And if it’s false, it’s going to be very harmful. (I don’t know why you seem to deny that it’s going to be harmful.) Apart from a tiny, tiny minority, the vast majority of people are going to be badly permanently damaged by this stuff. (This is why you need to take a side–not logically or intellectually, but morally.)

  37. I realize that above you say you think we do know some things about male and female minds. Sorry–I must have forgotten that or overlooked it, so maybe some of my arguments aren’t fair in that respect. But then doesn’t this make it even harder for you to defend your position? Suppose we agree that men are less sexually selective, more aggressive and ambitious, more prone to risk-taking, etc. (Notice all of these fit our pre-scientific traditional stereotypes.) For all these kinds of traits, you’re definitely going to find women who have all of them to the same degree as some men. Almost certainly some women, a minority, have all to a greater degree than some men. But they’re definitely not men in women’s bodies. This leaves the various and largely mysterious “subtle differences” you mention. I agree there are probably lots of those too. But it seems crazy to me that _those_ differences alone distinguish women from men. Suppose there are subtle differences in sensitivity to pain or color vision or IQ distributions… You’re telling me that if Alice is more ‘male’ psychologically in _those_ ways than Muhammad Ali, even though she’s also very feminine in all the overt (stereotypical) respects, she counts as a man?

  38. Jacques,

    Here’s the first part of my reply:

    I didn’t mean to stipulate that the mountain range has no beliefs or other contents, just that no _particular_ set of beliefs that women tend to have are necessary for having a female mind. Maybe some ‘basic’ beliefs that serve in object classification are necessary. I don’t know. Maybe a human mind is just a mind with certain basic dispositions and capacities and orientations. That makes sense to me: a newborn has a human mind though it probably has few or none of the contents of my mind.

    But when I said that having a female mind was sufficient, I was talking about an adult female human mind – and also, I was talking about the normal traits characteristic of that sort of mind.
    So, even if your point about a newborn’s mind is correct, no entity with a newborn’s mind is a woman, so if that’s what the mountain’s mind (assuming there is such a thing; more objections below) is like, then surely that’s not a woman.

    However, there is the issue of whether the mountain can itself be aware. It’s hard to see how. The mountain has no senses, no neural connections, no brain or anything. It’s a rock. You could put a brain inside the rock, but it would be like putting a brain in a vat: the vat would not be self-aware; it would just contain a brain…by the way, in some fictions, there are men and women who are brains in vats!

    Anyway, the brain wouldn’t be the mountain’s brain any more than it would be a vat’s brain, as far as I can tell.
    What if it’s not a brain, but a spirit of sorts?
    That seems no better. How are spirits located, and how can be a rock (an inanimate object) its body?

    Anyway, this shouldn’t matter to you since you think there are non-human women.

    But only of species whose minds are human-like enough, even if not exact matches – not just anything. That works for Vulcans. But I see significant problems with the mountain scenario. I’m not even sure a mountain can be a person in the first place…well, unless it’s a thing that looks externally like a mountain, but is actually some sort of big brain, has the ability to think, etc., or something along those lines.

    Let’s just stipulate that the gods implanted the kinds of dispositions and capacities (etc) that suffice for having a human female mind in the mountain range. (If you think that couldn’t suffice, how can you know that? You seem to have no firm opinions about what exactly constitutes the female mind, and you’re skeptical that our stereotypes are generally accurate…)

    First, when I said it sufficed, by “female mind” I meant (see my reply to Jordan too) something like the mind that is characteristic of adult human females. A newborn human would not do.
    Second, how I can know it is not the issue; I don’t need to know that. In fact, I usually do not, on many, many other things. For example, I know that an agent who tortures adult humans purely for pleasure every day does not have sufficient conditions for being a morally good agent (it’s obvious!), but there is no way I know what exactly constitutes (in a non-trivial, non-circular manner) a morally good agent.
    Moreover, that’s all over the place. I don’t know what exactly constitutes a person, but I know very well that my keybord isn’t one.

    Third, I do think a female mind (i.e., the sort of mind is characteristic of an adult female human being, which would extend to something close enough, since it doesn’t have to have all of the properties) requires beliefs. But this isn’t the only issue. If you told me that the mountain now has the same mind as, say, Thatcher, I would ask what you mean. In which sense can a mountain have a mind? (i.e., why is it the mind of the mountain, rather than a spirit not even related to the mountain, or at most (if you somehow localize it), a spirit trapped in the mountain? ).

    And let’s add that the mountain range has various beliefs and desires and memories, etc. Who knows what they are exactly. So we’re not imagining self-awareness with no beliefs at all.

    But how can the mountain range have them, rather than a mind that is not of the mountain?
    And if it’s like a big brain that looks like a mountain and has some sort of perception, I don’t know whether that mind would be human-like enough; it’s hard to see how.

    You ask how the mind would be associated with the mountain. I don’t know. Magic? You say the mountain doesn’t have any senses at all. But maybe it does. It’s made of rock and has no brain. Okay, but why is that a problem? In this situation it happens that (by divine command) some big chunks of rock have thoughts and perceptions… We’re talking about what is possible under at least one logically possible set of natural laws, right? I have no reason to think this scenario isn’t possible in that sense.

    How would you go about distinguishing between a mountain that has a mind, or an unembodied mind that has nothing to do with the mountain?
    “Magic” would not do it, because I’m asking how to understand the scenario. I’m not being able to intuitively grasp your scenario. You say the mountain maybe has perceptions. Are they human-like at all? If not, how would the mind

    In fact, without a human-like body, or memories (even if fake) like those of having a human-like body, etc., it’s hard to see how the mind can resemble a normal adult human mind, female or male. From what you tell me (very little) I don’t get any idea of anything woman-like, or even human-like. My scenarios are very different in that regard – I can even suggest to watch a movie to get the scenario.

    Admittedly, I have no real idea what we’re talking about. But that’s the same for your scenarios.

    If I tell you that a mind with the characteristics of a normal adult human female mind (or close to it) is put into a male body, that seems easy to understand. At least, millions of people who watch such movies or TV shows seem to have no difficulty getting an intuitive understanding of the situation. If you really have difficulty with this, fair enough. I would recommend watching any movie like that, and it should become intuitvely clear immediately.

    A certain kind of mind, its contents largely or wholly unknown, gets attached somehow to a new brain or rest-of-body through some basically unspecified process.

    A human female sort of mind, just as most of us have seen in movies, TV, etc.

    (“freak quantum event” or “evil alien” or whatever might as well be “magic” or “It just happens somehow”.)

    Indeed. The problem is not what we call it. Magic will do. The problem is that I can easily picture my scenarios in my head (and we’ve seen it in movies, TV, etc.; at least, millions of us have), whereas I have no idea what your scenario is like, and from what you say, it seems neither can you.

    And then the resulting mind or mind-brain retains the relevant but unspecified features despite being now attached to a wholly different brain or rest-of-body. Okay. But how exactly does any of that work? Is there even a logically possible world where the laws of nature would permit this to happen? No one actually knows anything about this. We have no real idea of how mind and brain are related, how that unknown relation is related to the laws of nature, most of which are also unknown or not well understood, etc.

    I don’t see any contradiction. I don’t know whether there have to be laws of nature, but regardless, the scenarios seem pretty understandable in fiction. They don’t seem at least for those reasons, imply any contradictions (unlike, say, usual fictional time travel).

    Are your scenarios which you take to be relevant and useful in figuring out whether Jenner might be a man different in any deep or principled way from this (silly) scenario I’m proposing?

    I think the scenarios may be useful in at least two ways:

    1. As a means of testing theories about the meaning of the word “woman”. If the scenario happens to be metaphysically impossible but consistent, that’s okay if we’re trying to test consistency.
    2. If we have good reasons to think some scenarios are metaphysically possible, then that also helps determine whether it’s possible that a woman be like that, or whether the condition is sufficient, etc.

    That aside, in real world scenarios and more related to actual transgender case, we can consider the brain, and so we don’t need magic, just some more specific science fiction. We can go back to scenario 4, and add some further stipulations to make a scenario 6 (which is surely metaphysically possible).

    Scenario 6:

    Bob is a man, and Alice is a woman. But as it turns out – like in a movie -, some evil corporation takes her brain and puts it in his rest-of-the-body, connecting the brain and all. Some modifications are needed to control the sexual organs and the like, but the rest of the brain remains the same. His brain and the rest of her body are killed.
    Alice has a female brain (almost) and mind, and a male rest of the body.
    On a distant planet, Alice 2 comes into existence due to a weird quantum phenomenon (ala a Boltzmann brain), and has the same brain and rest of the body as Alice (so, fake memories and all), but no past.

    Are Alice and Alice 2 women, men, or neither?
    I’m inclined to say they’re both probably women.

    As for Jenner, after Jordan told me in our exchange above about some studies, I’ve been searching for such studies. I have come to the conclusion that there is more evidence in support of the view that the brain of at least some people with male sexual organs are in several ways female-like than I was aware of, but then again, there are also significant differences with female brains, it seems, so I would not be rational in concluding that Jenner has a female brain – but I should decrease the likelyhood assessment of the hypothesis that Jenner has a male brain.

    That said, not all cases are equal. It’s not the same if the person shows from early childhood female-like patterns of behavior (and yes, we do know several of those; I’m not in any way suggesting we know nothing) and claims to be a girl, than if the person shows male-like patterns of behavior all of his life, at least as far as nearly all observers can tell. But the evidence warrants beliefs in brains with mixed properties, rather than female brains in those cases. How much that affects the relevant parts of the mind is a matter for future research.

  39. Jacques,

    Here’s part two:

    I want to emphasize, too, that we shouldn’t restrict ourselves to how the word is used “in the present-day” if that means giving some weight to the way it’s being used by proponents of transgenderism. People have been dividing humans into men and women since forever. Unless we’re supposed to assume (very implausibly) that people in the middle ages (for example) weren’t using terms basically synonymous with “man” and “woman”, we should consider how the word (and cognates) has been used in the past too.

    What do you think would people in the Middle Ages say if one were to present them scenarios like brain transplants? Maybe they wouldn’t even understand the scenarios, I guess. But I mean, if they had sufficient knowledge?

    So I have to ask why you think it’s _probable_ that people commonly treat some unspecified set of mental traits as sufficient for a person to be a woman.

    Probably, people have not even thought about it. And if they were presented with a scenario, they would not even understand the questions. At least, nearly all people.
    But take “water”, for example. Did it mean the same in the Middle Ages?
    If it did, the unspecified trait is H2O, which was even far less known (i.e., completely so) than the set of traits that are characteristic of an adult human female – traits we may not be able to fully list, but surely we know some of them, and in other cases, we might be able to recognize unconsciously (e.g., how do boys raised as girl realize they’re men? Might it be in part at least by patterns of behavior, even if they cannot list them? At any rate, whatever it is, they probably cannot list the reasons, either).

    That said, in order to test this hypothesis about the past, I’ve been looking into mythological stories or historical accounts about similar matters, and I found some that support your theory to some extent – under the assumption that the meaning has not changed -, though not strongly at this point – it’s difficult to figure what people meant given their vastly mistaken understanding about the world. I’ll keep looking later, when I have more time.

    I can only think of two uses: a specific version of transgender ideology and some thought experiments like yours.

    My thought experiments are not meant to introduce new uses. Rather, they’re meant to show how people seem to use the words. That’s why I present experiments in which viewers (not all, but a lot) would call the entity a woman, a man, etc.

    But what about the doctor saying “It’s a girl”, to take just one example? The doctor is going to agree to “Girls are female, boys are male”, and “Girls become women (if they live long enough and nothing goes wrong)”. The doctor is not going to agree to “If this baby ends up having a certain kind of mind that we can’t presently describe in any detail, then it is a boy and not a girl”. Not unless the doctor has been converted to a very recent and controversial theory about sex and gender. And this is true for doctors (nurses, teachers, parents) in every English speaking country over centuries. Or no? Do you disagree?

    Of course the doctor will agree that girls become women, if they live long enough and nothing goes wrong. I agree as well. That’s what normally happens. Now, my position is nothing like “If this baby ends up having a certain kind of mind that we can’t presently describe in any detail, then it is a boy and not a girl”.

    Rather, I’m saying that if the baby ends up having a male mind as adult (i.e., the kind of mind that is characteristic of adult human males), then the baby will probably be a man (“probably”, because as I’ve been saying, it’s a tentative assessment). But I think it’s enormously improbable that that would happen for a given baby. Moreover, if the baby doesn’t already hava a male baby brain, it seems even much more improbable that the structure of the brain would change enough later – it might change enough to have mixed traits, but to undo all of the innate structure? I seriously doubt it.

    Now, let’s say the doctor has not been converted to a very recent and controversial theory about sex and gender. But she also has not been indoctrinated into very ancient false religions, like Christianity, Islam, etc., or really any religion, ancient or not. Will the doctor agree that if the brain of the baby is in fact a male brain (for whatever weird reason), the baby is still a girl, and if so, then if nothing else goes wrong, the baby will become a woman?

    I don’t know. Maybe she will. Maybe not. Maybe it depends on the doctor. But for all I know, maybe she will say that having a vagina and not a penis is enough, even if the baby is not “built for a certain reproductive role” (if no further abnormal development happens, in case some already did). Maybe words are just not precise enough. Which is no problem, since in nearly all if not all cases in practice, the referents will match.

    You deny that people have been talking this way for a really long time all over the world, or you think that these uses fit nicely with your view that just having a certain kind of mind is sufficient?

    I don’t know. Some evidence supports your claim, but I’ll need to look into it further, when I have more time.

    But do you deny that Alice and Alice 2 in scenarios 5 and 6 are women? Or do you think they have some other trait that is sufficient, perhaps? It’s hard to see how any non-mental trait would do.

    Likewise, in ordinary language _now_ people often use “man” and “male”, “woman” and “female”, interchangeably. You find this in rap lyrics and dating profiles, affirmative action policies, just all over the place. Even transgender people tend to talk this way. Jenner would probably be insulted if you told him “Sure, you’re a woman but you’re not really female” or “MtF people aren’t female, they just resemble females”.

    Jenner might feel insulted irrationally, but if I were to say “you’re not female in the sense of the word used by biologists”, that would be true. And as for ordinary language, they may be used interchangeably sometimes, and sometimes not. As I said, I don’t think there is a single meaning. On that note, you say:

    So, if this matters, your suggestion that maybe being female is not necessary for being a woman isn’t even compatible with how these terms are used right now, despite transgenderism and all the rest of it.

    If that’s so, then Alice in scenarios 5 and 6 is female. But that’s not my intuitive assessment. My intuitive assessment is that her mind is female in both scenarios, and in scenario 6, her brain is female too, while her body is male in scenario 5, and body except for the brain is male in scenario 6 (well, nearly all of the brain), and there is no further fact of the matter as to whether she’s female. The word simply isn’t precise enough for this kind of usage.

    Can you explain again why you think your use or understanding is probably common? Is it just based on what Star Trek fans think about an imaginary alien?

    First, in philosophy, it’s standard procedure to make assessments about hypothetical counterfactual scenarios. And that’s also a way of testing theories about the meaning of words. How we come up with the scenarios is beside the point.
    Second, the examples from “Star Trek” were the Doctor (From “Star Trek: Voyager”), and T’Pol (from “Enterprise”), but they were not meant for Star Trek fans. They were meant for you, and for other readers as well. Star Trek fans who are competent English speakers also count as evidence. But that was and is not my only piece or main piece of evidence.
    Third, I haven’t used any “Star Trek” scenarios in a while. Scenarios 3, 4, 5 and now 6 have nothing to do with Star Trek.
    Fourth, I have pointed out that there are a good number of movies, TV shows, and other words of fiction (scifi, fantasy, whatever) in which people swap bodies. And viewers – whether Star Trek fans or not, but plenty of other people – have no difficulty understanding the scenarios – unlike your mountain scenario.

    And yet you also say that you don’t know which traits distinguish female minds from male ones, or whether there really is such a thing as a female mind. What are these traits “characteristic of women in general” that “hold for nearly all cases in ostensive definitions”? I think there are such traits, because I think we have some pretty accurate stereotypes. But how can you know that there are, unless you think you have some equally detailed account of the female mind? If you can offer any examples, I’m pretty sure we’re going to find men who have any or all of those traits. If you don’t know what we’re talking about and can’t offer examples, how can you be in a position to claim it’s “improbable” that some men have the relevant traits?

    Again, I don’t need to know all of the traits that are characteristic of human females or a detailed account in order to reckon that there probably are many. I make that assessment both on evolutionary grounds, and on the basis of traits we do know are characteristic of females. I already gave examples. I can repeat them and give more, if you insist (though this is not the point):

    1. Males are more prone to take risks than females.
    2. Males are more prone to violence than females.
    3. Males are more willing to have sex with strangers, even cheating. Females are much more selective and generally would be willing to have sex with strangers only if they’re exceptional males.
    4. Females are generally more attracted to males.
    5. Females and males react to at least some odors and some sounds differently. The number is very probably greater than we know.
    6. There may be differences in the way pain is perceived (I’m not sure, but it’s a good candidate), and in color vision (greater ability to distinguish colors in females).
    7. There are differences in the way female and male brains process a number of verbal and spatial tasks, and similarly, psychological differences in tasks like that, including differences in the way the tasks are done, and very probably sometimes in capacity. I don’t know the number of tasks where there is some difference, but this seems pretty common.

    And again, if A’s body has responded normally to male hormones (and generally, usual factors), developed sexual and reproductive organs normally, looks, etc., absent further evidence, one should reckon that the brain is a male brain. Adding the evidence from A’s claim to have a female mind, the question is whether such a radical and very specifc abnormal development (e.g., that A’s brain developed most of those specific female traits) is more or less probable than a mistaken assessment on A’s part, made intuitively and on comparative behavioral grounds alone (A has no means to measure brains) that A is a woman.
    On the basis of that evidence, it seems probable that A has a male brain, even if perhaps with some female traits.

    That aside, after further looking into the matter, I found further evidence supporting claims about female brains, but it remains more probable that those people a mixed set of neural traits. How that impacts the mind is a matter for future research, but the evidence so far does not warrant the belief that they have female minds (just mixed minds).

  40. Jacques,

    Here’s part three:

    And there’s a massive amount of research and evidence on sex differences supporting very specific hypotheses largely in line with our stereotypes.

    With some of them, I would agree. Others, not so much, as far as I can tell. But perhaps you’ve seen research I haven’t?
    If so, then alright, more known differences. If not, then still a good number. Either way, probably plenty more to come with future research. This isn’t a problem for me.

    This whole field makes sense only because researchers assume they can identify females and males (men and women) prior to knowing what their evolved mental traits ended up being.

    Of course they can identify males and females. Easily. As we do all the time. I’m not suggesting anything different. Also, even if a very small proportion of individuals has very unusual traits, that does not prevent research.

    If any particular mental traits were sufficient, they shouldn’t assume this–it could turn out that those they call “men” and “male” in the evolutionary past were women and female after all.

    That’s extremely improbable (beyond a reasonable doubt). And I didn’t say that any particular mental traits are sufficient. I said the mental traits that are characteristic of adult human females probably are.

    Nor do the evolutionists think that human women would become men if–maybe as a result of new selective pressures–they ended up having psychologies characteristic of men for the past millenia. As far as usage goes, this is pretty easy to test out, if you have the time.

    What’s an “evolutionist”? A biologist?
    But in any case, they probably don’t even think of the case, since it’s utterly unrealistic that it would happen, and not useful to their research. If they thought about it, I have no idea what each biologist would think. From the perspective of their field of study, of course those would be females. But this would not be a good way of testing the matter, for two reasons:
    a. Biologists use “female” in a technical sense in their field of study, and might think of the question as one about femaleness in that technical sense, not womanhood.
    b. When your scenario considers future cases in which what is normal changes, they might intuitively factor in potential changes in the way the words would be used. That is already suggested by your own language “human women”.

    But if I could find biologists willing to answer those questions and had time, I would test it (if you know where to find them, let me know and I will test them when I can).

    Just ask any evolutionary psychologist (for example) whether it’s possible for human women to undergo masculinizing but purely psychological changes in the course of future human evolution, and still be women at the end. For example, suppose that sexual selectivity is one of the traits of typical women now, but it won’t be in 200 years because of the Pill, the welfare state, all kinds of other cultural changes. Is the evolutionist going to say that, if there are enough similar mental changes, the resulting beings are men rather than women?

    It’s very likely that they would come up with still realistic scenarios, or trying to keep it as realistic as possible, rather than extend it to more and more unrealistic changes. Still, if I had access to evolutionary psychologists in reasonable numbers, could ask them the questions in a clear manner (perhaps: “would you say that, given the present-day (not future) meaning of the words ‘woman’ and ‘man’, if those changes happened and they were so that future human females (in the technical sense) ended up having brains/minds like those of present-day human males, then those future human females would be men, women, or neither?’).

    Pretty difficult to test and predict, if you ask me. But if you have any suggestions for how to testing this (e.g., where do I go?), please let me know.

    Why can’t it mean, in this case, that people with the female reproductive role tend to have certain mental traits, like sexual selectivity or higher agreeableness? It would also be consistent to say “Jenner has a male body, and for that reason it would be normal for Jenner to have a male mind”. That would be a more natural way of stating my view (if Jenner really does have a female mind, which I don’t believe).

    Well, it doesn’t mean that in this case because it’s not what I meant (it’s one of my options, after all, even if under an assumption that you found a commonality among all females), and it does not look unsual to me, and it seems consistent to go in either direction with the normality claim.

    But the issue would be (in practice) as follows: if A is a person with a female human brain and mind and male sexual organs, then would it be normal for A to have female sexual organs, or would it be normal for A to have a male brain and mind? Or would either of the two be normal?

    About seahorses, etc. I’m vaguely aware of this stuff. I don’t think I need to take any definite stand on it. Quite possibly our ordinary traditional concepts ‘male’ and ‘female’ aren’t well adapted to some exotic species remote from us, or they’re just indeterminate with respect to some of those. Or maybe we just made a mistake in assigning the sexes to some of these species. Or, more probably, the male is not really being ‘impregnated’ by the female. I don’t know that it matters much. Maybe I should define the reproductive role I have in mind (vaguely) as a cluster concept, sure. Where fertilization is external, there’s still one sex that does the fertilizing and the other that gets fertilized. It’s relevantly similar (enough) to the more familiar case of ‘impregnation’ in the strict sense.

    Regarding external fertilization, actually it’s not the case that females get fertilized. Female eggs get fertilized. My point is that there are plenty of species in which females release eggs, males release sperm, and then sperm fertilize eggs. That’s nothing like getting impregnated, in any common sense of the term. As for seahorses, while eggs are fertilized by the male, only the male is impregnated, or something like getting impregnated, as he carries the pouch with the fertilized eggs. The female just drops the eggs in his pouch and leaves, he fertilizes them, etc.

    Why does this mean there’s no particular role? I can just say there’s a single role, which we initially learned to identify in the primordial past, associated with pregnancy and birthing and a suite of other behaviors and capacities… but the complete and precise characterization of that role–as applied across all species–is an open scientific and philosophical question.

    But I’m saying that there is no such role, other than producing some types of gametes. Getting impregnated is not. Now, making bigger, non-mobile gametes is the only candidate, so we could go for that, but in that case, it’s like “water is H2O”, not like “bachellors are unmarried men”.

    Anything you might say about it will almost certainly be open to sea-horse-like counter-examples.

    I was talking about a mind that is characteristic of adult human females. And I was saying that that was probably sufficient for being a woman. I wasn’t saying that there was a list of mental traits T1, T2,…, Tj (whatever those are), which can be described precisely, and such that having all of them is both necessary and sufficient for something to be a woman.

    Your earlier claim was:

    When I say human women are females, I’m saying they belong to the same category as female cats and whales and spiders. So what am I saying about all these beings? Something about their biology, their reproductive role, etc. So what am I saying about all these beings? Something about their biology, their reproductive role, etc. I’m not implying that human females are psychologically similar to female spiders. When scientists reason about the origins of sex and sexual dimorphism, and talk about males and females, what are they talking about? Sometimes they may talk about psychology in this context, but there’s no _psychological_ thing that could be the referent or meaning across all these contexts. Isn’t ‘female’ part of the meaning of ‘woman’? And aren’t we talking about ‘female’ in the same sense across these contexts? Unless being female involves a reproductive role or capacity (which is not a psychological thing) this makes no sense.

    I’m saying the referent that could hold across all those contexts is roughly big gametes, but that’s not about the meaning (i.e., “female” does not mean anything about gametes), and there is no other viable candidate for a referent. It’s not that there are exceptions in the sense that you make a list of traits and some species like one or the other. Rather, there is not even a rough approximation that seems to work, other than gamete size. For example, impregnation is not it (not just because of dozens of species of seahorses, but because of a zillion species of animals where fertilization happens in the water, outside any body, and no animal gets impregnated in any ordinary sense of the term, or anything similar to it), and whatever one comes up with, there are not just some, but plenty of exceptions, and species in which females do not even resemble getting impregnated (or whatever combination you choose).
    Now, you could say it’s no about getting impregnated, but about the eggs being fertilized. But for that matter, you could just go for the eggs – i.e., the female gametes -, and leave fertilization aside, so that you also cover all-female rare species.

    To revert to the water example, someone in the middle ages might not have been able to characterize the nature or role or essence of water in a way that would fit perfectly with the most exotic or purely imaginary cases. So what? He was still right to think that water was a certain kind of stuff, that rain is water, etc. And if someone were to propose that gold could really be water provided that it had the right kind of economic properties, he’d rightly think that was really weird and incoherent.

    I’m not sure how this is an objection, but if the person using “gold” in a way that seemed weird to him provided scenarios in which other plenty of people also held that it was gold, he should not dismiss them, but rather either consider that “gold” or “water” perhaps doesn’t mean what he thought, but there is more than one common meaning, or he got the meaning wrong. Of course, the difference is that no one had such scenarios, because no one was making those claims (clearly!).

    And let’s add:

    Scenario 7:

    A young baby boy loses his penis to a botched circumcision. He is raised as a girl. From a young age, he claims to be a boy in the body of a girl.

    Is the talking incoherently?
    Is he a boy? How does he know?

  41. Jacques,

    Part four:

    Also, not that it matters much, but I’m not a Christian or a Thomist.

    Fair enough, so that’s not a potential source of error. However, some of your beliefs appeared to be pretty similar to that. If you do not mind, do you follow any religion?
    In our previous discussion, you mentioned demons, which suggest some sort of religion, if not Christianity.

    My anger and disgust about this stuff has no basis in any of that. It’s worth pointing out that you yourself have already said things that seem to commit you to the conclusion that _very probably_ the _majority_ of people who are actually undergoing ‘gender reassignment’ are in situations that don’t meet your standards for coherence, let alone truth. For example, you think it’s improbable that Jenner is a woman. You think it’s improbable that people with male physiologies have female minds. So even by your standards, and quite apart from any debate about meaning or philosophy, it looks like large numbers of people are being encouraged to permanently mutilate their bodies on the basis of false beliefs about sex and gender. You’re arguing in effect that some possible form of transgenderism might make sense or even be true in some world. But if we look at the actual world and the actual ideology, you should agree that it’s false. And if it’s false, it’s going to be very harmful. (I don’t know why you seem to deny that it’s going to be harmful.) Apart from a tiny, tiny minority, the vast majority of people are going to be badly permanently damaged by this stuff. (This is why you need to take a side–not logically or intellectually, but morally.)

    Before I go on, I would say that he whole debates about whether a person with a female mind and male body or female mind+brain and male rest of the body would be a man or a woman or neither are irrelevant with respect to all of this.

    That aside, I see immoral behavior all the time, and all over the world, from people who engage in it because they strongly believe it’s morally obligatory for them to do that (and while we kind of partially agree on this, we disagree on other issues). In my experience, I don’t have any serious shot at changing minds. As for taking a side, I actually see conservatives in the US as doing a lot of immoral stuff too; it’s hard to say which side in your country is doing more damage, but I’m not particularly inclined to pick a side on the whole, and I don’t think I should. I consider matters on a case by case basis.

    By the way, who do you think is encouraging surgery?
    You mean that by presenting it as an option, that’s encouragement? Or are you talking about something more specific?

    For all these kinds of traits, you’re definitely going to find women who have all of them to the same degree as some men. Almost certainly some women, a minority, have all to a greater degree than some men. But they’re definitely not men in women’s bodies. This leaves the various and largely mysterious “subtle differences” you mention.

    All of them?
    I’m not sure, but still, there are plenty others (see a previous reply), e.g., the way that the mind processes a number of verbal tasks, spatial tasks, etc., how it reacts to different odors, sounds, etc. If they have all of those too, I would be thinking they probably are men (but again, I’m looking into more evidence, including linguistic evidence).

    But I would like to ask you again (you haven’t addressed these not just realistic but real cases) about boys raised as girls who did not have external male sexual organs, where given female hormones, etc., but claimed to be boys trapped in the body of girls, or similar claims. What do you make of those?

    • Just one more point:

      I said that “If they have all of those too, I would be thinking they probably are men (but again, I’m looking into more evidence, including linguistic evidence).”. I’ll add even if they don’t have all but nearly all, I would be inclined towards that assessment, by my own intuitive understanding of the words. In my view, there probably are many subtle differences between female and male minds (and brains), which individually may not look big, but together would make up very significant differences. I would expect that these differences in minds also have correlations in behavior, of course, even if we at this point don’t know what those are (I don’t rule out we are able to pick some of them up intuitively, but much more research is needed to be able to tell what they are.)

      If that is not the case and the difference between female and male minds is much smaller than I think, then I would conclude that’s not enough, and (for example) then P probably would be a man.

  42. “My scenarios are very different in that regard – I can even suggest to watch a movie to get the scenario… If I tell you that a mind with the characteristics of a normal adult human female mind (or close to it) is put into a male body, that seems easy to understand. At least, millions of people who watch such movies or TV shows seem to have no difficulty getting an intuitive understanding of the situation.”

    In “The Nutcracker Prince” a boy is transformed into a nutcracker. Young children have no trouble understanding this scenario. There have been a few cartoon movie versions that you could watch if you want to gain “an intuitive understanding of the situation”, for what that’s worth. A nutcracker isn’t relevantly different from a mountain range, surely. So if you want, we can just say it’s a nutcracker rather than a mountain range that ends up with a female mind. And a nutcracker can’t really be a boy (or a woman).

    “If you told me that the mountain now has the same mind as, say, Thatcher, I would ask what you mean. In which sense can a mountain have a mind? (i.e., why is it the mind of the mountain, rather than a spirit not even related to the mountain, or at most (if you somehow localize it), a spirit trapped in the mountain?)”

    No idea. In what sense do you have a mind? You probably think your mind is associated with your body rather than Thatcher’s, but how? Is your brain, or some brain or other, necessary for you to have your mind, or some mind or other? Are you perhaps a spirit trapped in a body rather than a mind-body unity or complex? (And by the way–how could a spirit be ‘trapped’ in a mountain? If spirits are immaterial and mountains are material, how could that work?) No one really knows. But if the point is just to have some “intuitive understanding” of what we’re imagining you don’t need to know this about yourself, and I don’t need to know anything similar about the mountain range.

    I’m pretty sure there are metaphysically possible worlds where things without brains or brain-like organs have minds much like ours. But I don’t even need metaphysical possibility. I can just appeal to the _epistemic_ possibility that this is possible: for all I know, it’s non-contradictory to imagine a mountain range with a mind like Thatcher’s, say. And in fact, I don’t even need that. You say:

    “in philosophy, it’s standard procedure to make assessments about hypothetical counterfactual scenarios. And that’s also a way of testing theories about the meaning of words.”

    Yes but even in ordinary life we also make reasonable assessments about counter-possible scenarios. Possibility of any kind is irrelevant here.

    Imagine a child makes an addition mistake because he thought that 7 + 5 = 11; then the teacher might (correctly, reasonably, informatively) tell him “If 7 + 5 were 11, your answer would be right”. By contrast, it would clearly be wrong–incorrect, unreasonable, misleading–for the teacher to say “If 7 + 5 were 17, your answer would be right” or “If 7 was an even number, your answer would be right”. A Christian who believes that God is necessarily morally perfect might still correctly think “If God were evil, He wouldn’t deserve our praise”. Or consider one of your examples: if per impossibile torturing people every day just for fun were morally obligatory for everyone _then_ someone who does that every day would (or could) be a good person. By contrast, if that were morally obligatory it would _not_ follow that someone who _never_ does it would (or could) be a good person. In both cases we have a presumably impossible antecedent, but we can still reason or intuit more or less correctly about the scenario. We can understand the impossible antecedents well enough (it seems) to figure out what would and wouldn’t hold if they were true. Imagine a nutcracker with an internalist psychology just like the one in the story, but no history. Would that be a little boy, according to you? Unless there’s some principled distinction between the stories, we can extend this to a relevantly similar history-less mountain range. Would that be a little boy too?

    I don’t think this argument falsifies your view. My point is that you should probably think that given that you rely so heavily on what you think we’d intuit in these very exotic imaginary cases…

  43. “Rather, there is not even a rough approximation that seems to work, other than gamete size.”

    This is far too strong. Not even a _rough_ approximation? Being the sex that gets (or has things that get) fertilized is common across all species, I’m pretty sure. But even if it weren’t there could still be a rough approximation. Suppose that being the impregnated sex works well for most creatures close to us biologically, and then being the sex that gets fertilized works for the rest. And suppose that we find there are all kinds of important physiological similarities–not always the same ones, of course–that make for family resemblance across all the referents. For me that would be a rough approximation to some kind of account of female-ness, though not, of course, a strict philosophical definition or a perfect empirical theory of the nature of the natural kind, etc. You say there is “no such role”. How do you know that? People in the past wouldn’t have been able to specify the precise empirical nature of water, or articulate their conception of water so that no clever philosopher could come up with puzzle cases–cases where the proposed account seems to give the wrong results. And yet they were right to think that in reality there was something corresponding to their more-or-less accurate ‘same-stuff-as’ concept. Maybe you’re entitled to say that we don’t yet know just what it is, at some fine-grained level or at the most abstract and general level; or maybe you could say that if we _had_ to specify it on the basis of our current knowledge we’d have to say it was something about producing larger immobile gametes (which get fertilized). I don’t know how you conclude that there just is no such thing.

    “I was saying that that was probably sufficient for being a woman. I wasn’t saying that there was a list of mental traits T1, T2,…, Tj (whatever those are), which can be described precisely, and such that having all of them is both necessary and sufficient for something to be a woman.”

    Right, but since you claim that some (largely unspecified) traits T is sufficient, any possible man who has all those traits is a straightforward counter-example to your claim. This is what I had in mind when I said that any possible account of T “will almost certainly be open to sea-horse-like counter-examples”. This is “like” the sea-horse case in the sense that any proposed account of conditions (necessary or sufficient or both) is open to counter-examples.

    “And I didn’t say that any particular mental traits are sufficient. I said the mental traits that are characteristic of adult human females probably are.”.

    When I said “if any particular mental traits were sufficient” I meant “any, including those that are typical of women”. My point was that no particular mental traits are sufficient, not even those ones.

    We agree that there features of female minds that we know about already. Like the ones you list above. Okay, so imagine that P’s mind has all those features we know about. Well, I’m pretty sure there are at least some unusual actual women with those features. Suppose that men’s propensity to violence is normally 7/10 while for women it’s 5/10 or whatever. There are _some_ women for whom it’s 7/10 and _some_ men for whom it’s 5/10. And this is almost certainly going to hold for all the traits you listed, or any more specific account where these are weighted or characterized in some other more complex way: we are going to find at least _one_ actual man who fits the female profile. At the very least, it’s possible, and possible in some very narrow empirically realistic sense! But I think we agree that this _alone_ would not make him a woman. I mean, he might not only be physiologically male but he might also consider himself male, and a man, and he might regard the idea that he was really a woman as totally bizarre. No competent speaker would call him a woman, etc. Someone pretty much like this would be considered an _effeminate_ man by most people. He has a female-like mind, maybe, or maybe even a mind that is really similar to the female mind in ways that matter socially; but he’s not a woman.

    So now we turn to the many other “subtle” and unspecified or uncertain traits that (we agree) are probably also distinctive of women. Would someone with all the listed traits _plus_ all those other ones count as a woman, intuitively? Of course I think that sounds bizarre. Or maybe I’m just not sure what we’re talking about since I have no idea what these traits are supposed to be. But you make the stronger claim, that the second set of mostly unknown traits alone are _probably_ sufficient:

    “If they have all of those too, I would be thinking they probably are men”

    So we’re now talking only about a set of traits that you can’t specify, for the most part, but which you take to be sufficient. Could you explain why you think it’s not probable that any actual or even possible man could have _just_ those traits, either with or without the ones we know about? If we don’t really know what they are, how are you “assessing” this intuitively? What are you imagining, and how do you judge its plausibility? Sorry if you’ve already answered these questions. I just don’t understand.

    Also, it sounds like you’re admitting that you don’t have “even a rough approximation” of an account of this kind of mind. At least, if what I’ve said about reproductive role can’t be even a rough approximation, this isn’t either. And yet you seem to think that there probably is such a thing. Why don’t you think you’re required to provide some sort of approximate account of what this thing is really like?

  44. “In my experience, I don’t have any serious shot at changing minds. As for taking a side, I actually see conservatives in the US as doing a lot of immoral stuff too; it’s hard to say which side in your country is doing more damage, but I’m not particularly inclined to pick a side on the whole, and I don’t think I should. I consider matters on a case by case basis.”

    What I meant was to take a side on this particular issue. I don’t mean you need to choose between “conservatism” and “liberalism” in general–and I don’t do that myself, being very hostile to most of mainstream “conservatism”. What I meant was roughly this: there are two general ways of looking at human nature, sex, the sexes, etc. Obviously there are many versions of each, and there’s room for philosophical discussion about lots of details. I guess if you’re really wholly outside of the western world and nothing similar is being implemented where you live, you might have no moral obligation to take a side. Even then, you’re interacting here with people who live in societies threatened by this stuff. The net effect of your arguments is to make it seem that the simple familiar difference between men and women is actually mysterious, complicated, abstruse. Whether you realize it or not, you’re disrupting or subverting what most people take to be obvious and straightforward systems of belief–maybe women don’t have to be female, maybe there’s no such thing as a female reproductive role, maybe female humans and female lizards don’t really belong to any one natural kind, etc. I’m saying that even if you are raising interesting points that deserve philosophical discussion in _some_ context, this is not the right one. In this context, for us over here, this is just poison. We’ve entered a phase of suicidal nihilism. Every source of meaning and identity and purpose has been thoroughly subverted, deconstructed, abolished. Since you apparently agree that the actual ideas and policies and norms now being imposed on us are (probably) incoherent and false, apart from some merely possible trans theory applied to imaginary beings, you should not be publicly arguing for claims that just add to our confusion. We’re too weak and sick. We can’t really tolerate it. (Well, I guess I can, but I don’t think my society as a whole can.) The more confused and uncertain we are, the easier it is for our elites to move ahead with what they want–and they’re very aggressive and confident, and not at all interested in any “civil debate”.

    “If you do not mind, do you follow any religion? In our previous discussion, you mentioned demons, which suggest some sort of religion, if not Christianity.”

    I’m not part of any sect, though I like a lot of them (from what I know about them). The philosophical versions of Hinduism and Buddhism seem very interesting and maybe close to the truth. Christianity is also very impressive. I became conservative on many things only because I gradually came to think that the liberal or progressive system was throwing up ever more crazy and destructive ideas. For example, I was always indifferent to gays and basically supportive of the gay rights movement. But when the “gay marriage” debate happened I thought “This is completely insane”… I mean, I had no moral objection at the time to homosexual behavior or relationships. Just didn’t care at all. But it seemed to me they were saying we had a moral obligation to believe something incoherent or, anyway, plainly false. And all because of “equality”, which somehow didn’t (yet?) require recognition of polygamous or incestuous marriages (which were very obviously real marriages). And I noticed this pattern over and over again. The more sensible aspects of leftism such as concern for the poor were ever less important, and the burning issues were always these utterly bizarre and destructive things that probably wouldn’t even benefit the tiny minority who might want them. So I began to suspect the whole system of ideas that was generating this stuff.

    Likewise, I was raised an agnostic or atheist, some kind of typical materialist, and I only became sympathetic to religion as a result of thinking about philosophy much later in life. There was too much in reality that seemed incompatible with a materialist or scientistic view. And once I began to think that was a very inadequate world-view, I began to take more seriously supernatural accounts. So the process was the reverse of what you’re imagining. I didn’t go from a conservative or religious background to political conclusions; instead, I went from liberalism and non-religion to political conclusions that seemed required by common sense or philosophical reasoning… and then I found that I agreed with “conservatives” on many things.

    “A young baby boy loses his penis to a botched circumcision. He is raised as a girl. From a young age, he claims to be a boy in the body of a girl. Is the talking incoherently? Is he a boy? How does he know?”

    Yes, I think he’s probably talking incoherently, but intelligibly. (We have to understand an incoherent claim in order to figure out that it’s incoherent, or how it’s incoherent.) Or, anyway, it’s definitely false that he’s a boy in the body of a girl, since he definitely doesn’t have that kind of body. He’s a mutilated boy. Of course, it’s easy to imagine how a kid whose been lied to, and doesn’t know much about girls and boys anyway (being a kid), might try to make sense of himself by saying this. As far as I know, men who find out later in life that this was their real story do _not_ continue to say that they have female bodies, or had girl-bodies when they were young. On the contrary, it seems they feel relief that they now understand what happened–that they really were just _boys_ all along.

    To be clear, I do allow that there could be cases of a boy in a girl’s body. Given that his mind or brain has the right history, for example. Or maybe the history of a soul.

    How does he know he’s a boy? That’s a hard question. I can only speculate, of course. The kinds of surgeries or hormone treatments available–especially in the past–didn’t result in physical changes such that an initially male body really becomes female. The brain can be changed by hormones, lots of overt and secondary sex characteristics can be masked or destroyed, etc. But there are still going to be lots of ways in which the boy’s body is still a _boy’s_ body rather than a girl’s. And if you think it’s improbable that a man has a female mind, you should agree that we don’t have techniques for inducing _all_ the many super-complex and subtle _physical_ features that constitute a female body and reproductive system and brain, etc. Therefore, it could well be that a boy in this situation is just aware of some or all of the deep sexed features of his own physiology even if he can’t, of course, put this into words. He might just sense that his body isn’t _like_ the bodies of girls in some important way, or that it feels like the bodies of boys that he observes. But how? Well, I don’t know but I don’t think I need a serious theory. I just allow that there might be lots of powerful sub-conscious perceptions including perceptions of likeness or affinity or whatever. Alternatively, maybe he knows somehow by being aware of some purely psychological facts about himself, and being aware of some differences between boy mind and girl minds. That doesn’t imply that what makes him a boy is just his mind, of course, but only that (maybe) he uses knowledge of his mind to identify his maleness (just as medievals could use phenomenal properties to identify H2O).

    Is there a reason why these kinds of cases would be a problem for me?

    One last thought for now. If we wanted to identify something other than gamete size and mobility as the referent of ‘female’ based on our current knowledge, couldn’t we note that females are the ones whose gametes survive fertilization? Sperm die in conception but for the egg it’s just an important life event. Is there a species where this doesn’t happen?

  45. Jacques,

    Here’s the first part (I’ll post the rest later):

    In “The Nutcracker Prince” a boy is transformed into a nutcracker. Young children have no trouble understanding this scenario. There have been a few cartoon movie versions that you could watch if you want to gain “an intuitive understanding of the situation”, for what that’s worth. A nutcracker isn’t relevantly different from a mountain range, surely. So if you want, we can just say it’s a nutcracker rather than a mountain range that ends up with a female mind. And a nutcracker can’t really be a boy (or a woman).

    I haven’t watched the movies. I saw one in which people were transformed into furniture, but their psychology was also massively changed as a result in many ways, to the point that it does not seem to resemble a normal human adult psychology anymore. I’m not sure how much it changes in the movies you mention, but my questions would be:

    1. Do people who have no trouble understanding the scenario reckon that that is still a boy, or not?
    2. If the answer is negative, does the nutcracker still have something very similar to a normal human boy psychology?

    If the answer to the first one is affirmative, or they’re both negative, then that’s not a problem for my view on it. Now, assuming that the nutcracker still has the psychology of normal human boy (or very close to it), and yet, people generally think that that’s not a boy, that seems clearly at odds with my intuitions. That would give me evidence I got the meaning wrong, and I should adjust it (more below).
    But then again, that does not deny the scenarios I raised, in which people still recognize the person as a woman. It would support the claim that having a normal human female mind is not enough for being a woman, but the scenarios I presented would still support that having a normal human female psychology (or close to that) plus two arms, legs, eyes, etc., would suffice, even if the body is like that of a normal human male.

    No idea. In what sense do you have a mind?

    That I do have a mind is understood intuitively. If I say Tom has an abnormal mind, or a childish mind, or whatever, that is understood. If I say that Alice has a female mind despite the body she was put in, that is understood (watch movies, if not). If you tell me that a mountain has the mind of Thatcher, I do not understand, so I ask. The scenarios are relevantly different, and if you do not know how to explain it, I do not know how to understand it.

    But if the point is just to have some “intuitive understanding” of what we’re imagining you don’t need to know this about yourself, and I don’t need to know anything similar about the mountain range.

    The difference is that the mountain range case is not intuitvely understood. At least, I don’t have an intuitive grasp on that. If it’s like – say – people turned into furniture in some movies, fair enough, but their psychology seems to be massively changed, so that’s not a problem. Still, see the nutcracker above.

    Yes but even in ordinary life we also make reasonable assessments about counter-possible scenarios. Possibility of any kind is irrelevant here.

    Irrelevant how?
    Logical possibility is relevant if we’re testing for inconsistency. Metaphysical possibility is relevant if we’re testing for whether it’s a necessary feature of a referent (like “water is H2O”).

    A Christian who believes that God is necessarily morally perfect might still correctly think “If God were evil, He wouldn’t deserve our praise”.

    I don’t know. What does “God” mean?
    If the Christian stipulatively defines “God” as an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect agent, that becomes as trivial as “If God were evil, he would deserve our praise”.
    But if the Christian (much more likely) defines “God” ostensively, as the creator whose actions are depicted in the Bible, then that’s correct. But that’s not a problem. Metaphysical or logical possibility may or may not matter, depending on what one is testing. At any rate, the problem with your mountain range scenario is incomprehensibility. I don’t know what you’re talking about, but my scenarios are not like that (e.g., watch the movie). As for the nutcracker, fair enough. I haven’t watched the movies, but that’s surely understandable. If I watched the movie, I would have enough info to make a better assessment (and if I knew what others think), but given that I don’t, I raised the questions above, and considered possibilities.

    Imagine a nutcracker with an internalist psychology just like the one in the story, but no history.

    No history, so the memories in the story are fake? Or by “internalist psychology” you mean somehow without memories? If it’s without memories, then that does not resemble a characteristic adult human female psychology (or, in this case, a characteristic human boy psychology), so not a problem for my theory. But see above, if the two questions are answered negatively, then you got a good piece of evidence that I got the meaning wrong, but you still have not dealt with my examples.

    I don’t think this argument falsifies your view. My point is that you should probably think that given that you rely so heavily on what you think we’d intuit in these very exotic imaginary cases…

    I don’t think it does, either (see above), but I disagree about the cases, which are not (in the mountain range) relevantly similar to mine, or to the nutcracker (with memories). But then again, on the other hand, if the answer to both questions is negative above, that gives me evidence that I got the meaning of “boy” wrong, since I would have said that that’s a boy trapped in a nutcracker or with a nutcracker-like body. But I would be surprised that the psychology is so similar, and that people say that that’s not a boy.

  46. “If the Christian stipulatively defines “God” as an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect agent, that becomes as trivial as “If God were evil, he would deserve our praise”.”

    You seem to be missing my point here. Yes, from one point of view, any conditional with an impossible antecedent is true. But this isn’t how people intuitively judge these counter-possibles. Even if we explicitly stipulate that (if God exists) God is necessarily morally perfect, people don’t judge that “If God were evil, he would deserve our praise” is just as reasonable or true as “If God were evil, he wouldn’t deserve our praise”. Likewise in the math example. Intuitively, “If 7 + 5 were 11, your answer would be correct” would (under the right empirical circumstances) be a reasonable and true claim, while “If 7 + 5 were 11, Russia would be smaller than Tahiti” would be unreasonable and false. It’s not about logic, but rather something like “relations of ideas”.

    “Logical possibility is relevant if we’re testing for inconsistency. Metaphysical possibility is relevant if we’re testing for whether it’s a necessary feature of a referent (like “water is H2O”).”

    My point is that neither consistency nor (metaphysically) necessary features seem to be at issue in lots of perfectly ordinary as well as philosophical cases where we test our intuitions or concepts by imagining scenarios. It’s not consistent or possible in any sense that 7 + 5 = 11, but the math teacher and the student can perfectly well reason about what would be true (somehow) if that were the case. So testing for linguistic intuitions, among other things, isn’t always constrained by logical or metaphysical possibility. And so, it doesn’t matter for my argument whether a self-aware mountain range is even logically possible (though I have no reason to doubt that it is).

    • Jacques

      You seem to be missing my point here. Yes, from one point of view, any conditional with an impossible antecedent is true. But this isn’t how people intuitively judge these counter-possibles.

      Yes, I actually agree with that. It’s all over the place. For example, arguments for the existence of God say things like “If God doesn’t exist, everything is permissible”, or “If God did not exist, everything would be permissible”, even though the people making the arguments believe that the antecedents are impossible.

      You seem to be missing my point. I may have been unclear. There are conditionals in which the impossibility of the antecedent, in context, is of the sort that makes them trivial, and others are not like that.
      If the theist gives a stipulative definition of “God” as (say) “an essentially omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect agent”, and then goes on to say “If God were not good, he would not be worthy of worship”, then he’s saying something trivial, in my assessment.

      Even if we explicitly stipulate that (if God exists) God is necessarily morally perfect, people don’t judge that “If God were evil, he would deserve our praise” is just as reasonable or true as “If God were evil, he wouldn’t deserve our praise”.

      That one is not the same as a definition. Or maybe it is. It’s unclear to me.

      Likewise in the math example. Intuitively, “If 7 + 5 were 11, your answer would be correct” would (under the right empirical circumstances) be a reasonable and true claim, while “If 7 + 5 were 11, Russia would be smaller than Tahiti” would be unreasonable and false. It’s not about logic, but rather something like “relations of ideas”.

      Yes, I agree.
      Even so, possibility (logical or metaphysical) matters in some contexts, as I mentioned in my previous reply.

      My point is that neither consistency nor (metaphysically) necessary features seem to be at issue in lots of perfectly ordinary as well as philosophical cases where we test our intuitions or concepts by imagining scenarios.

      Sure, I agree.

      And so, it doesn’t matter for my argument whether a self-aware mountain range is even logically possible (though I have no reason to doubt that it is).

      You brought up the possibility of the mountain range when you first introduced the scenario. But that aside, my reply to it remains what I said in the post you’re replying to.

  47. Jacques,

    Here’s the second part:

    This is far too strong. Not even a _rough_ approximation? Being the sex that gets (or has things that get) fertilized is common across all species, I’m pretty sure.

    No animal gets fertilized, and getting impregnated is not even a rough approximation (I gave examples already). “Having” the things that get fertilized actually does not get close (external fertilization), but producing the things that get fertilized does get close. However, I pretty much addressed that already, when I said “Now, you could say it’s no about getting impregnated, but about the eggs being fertilized. But for that matter, you could just go for the eggs – i.e., the female gametes -, and leave fertilization aside, so that you also cover all-female rare species.”

    Perhaps, you could say it’s having the things (not “eggs”) that get fertilized, but the eggs are precisely the bigger gametes, which are not mobile and get fertilized, so you get pretty much the same thing.

    At any rate, if you want to go for “producing the things that get fertilized”, or something like that, sure, not a problem, that’s a pretty good approximation, though also surely it’s not incoherent to deny in any colloquial sense of “female” that the females normally produce the things that get fertilized.

    Suppose that being the impregnated sex works well for most creatures close to us biologically, and then being the sex that gets fertilized works for the rest.

    But no sex gets fertilized. The things they produce – gametes – get fertilized.

    And suppose that we find there are all kinds of important physiological similarities–not always the same ones, of course–that make for family resemblance across all the referents.

    But that very probably doesn’t hold, unless you consider “physiological similarities” to include – precisely – to make the thing that gets fertilized. Do you have any other candidate?

    For me that would be a rough approximation to some kind of account of female-ness, though not, of course, a strict philosophical definition or a perfect empirical theory of the nature of the natural kind, etc. You say there is “no such role”. How do you know that? People in the past wouldn’t have been able to specify the precise empirical nature of water, or articulate their conception of water so that no clever philosopher could come up with puzzle cases–cases where the proposed account seems to give the wrong results.

    Because we do know enough to find huge differences with respect to pretty much any respect we think of, which of course provides a lot of information that there is no such role.

    And yet they were right to think that in reality there was something corresponding to their more-or-less accurate ‘same-stuff-as’ concept.

    Sure, and there is something in this case too: gametes size, or if you prefer it better, producing the thing that gets fertilized.

    Right, but since you claim that some (largely unspecified) traits T is sufficient, any possible man who has all those traits is a straightforward counter-example to your claim.

    True.

    My point was that no particular mental traits are sufficient, not even those ones.

    Okay, so we disagree, but if your nutcracker example is such that the answer to the two questions is negative (see my immediately previous post), that would give me evidence that I got the meaning wrong (and similarly for women), so that that would not be enough. But it seems improbable to me.

    At the very least, it’s possible, and possible in some very narrow empirically realistic sense!

    You mean, all the ones I listed, including processing spatial and verbal information in a female-like manner, probably odors, sounds, pain if there is a difference, etc.?
    And what about the rest, the ones we don’t know?

    If P has all of the female-like traits, I think P would likely be a woman. Else, there is not enough info (how many does P not have, etc.).

    But you make the stronger claim, that the second set of mostly unknown traits alone are _probably_ sufficient:

    No, I said if they have those too, not if they have those but not the ones I did list.
    If they have only the others (the ones we know about), but on the other hand, none of the ones I did list (including how to process some verbal and spatial info, some sounds, smells, etc.), then that seems too much of mixed traits to tell. I would need to know more about the others.

    Also, it sounds like you’re admitting that you don’t have “even a rough approximation” of an account of this kind of mind. At least, if what I’ve said about reproductive role can’t be even a rough approximation, this isn’t either. And yet you seem to think that there probably is such a thing. Why don’t you think you’re required to provide some sort of approximate account of what this thing is really like?

    I think I did provide “a rough approximation”, by listing some of those properties (including differences in predispositions to violence, indiscriminate sex, etc.; processing some verbal and spatial info, some sounds and smells, etc., and saying that such differences are probably widespread).

    If that’s not enough of a rough approximation for you because I’m saying there are probably many more subtle differences, regardless of what you call it I think there are many of those differences we do not know, for evolutionary reasons and because research keeps finding more differences; it’s extremely unlikely that the early research we have for now got them all regarding (for example) spatial processing, and verbal processing, and odor processing, and other kinds of processing, etc.

    I’d like to ask you again if you could address the following questions:

    Scenario 5:

    Bob is a man, and Alice is a woman. They live on Earth. Now, like in a movie, they swap bodies. Alice is now in a male body. She’s still a woman. Is she female?
    Let’s say Alice’s body is killed, and Bob with it. Alice is still there, but she has a male body. On a very distant planet beyond the observable universe, as a result of a quantum freak event (or intervention by a sufficient powerful alien, demon, god, or whatever we call it), Alice 2 comes into existence. Alice 2 has exactly the same mind and body as Alice (including Alice’s memories, etc.), but the memories are fake, she has no past, etc. Is Alice 2 a woman, a man, or neither?

    Scenario 6:

    Bob is a man, and Alice is a woman. But as it turns out – like in a movie -, some evil corporation takes her brain and puts it in his rest-of-the-body, connecting the brain and all. Some modifications are needed to control the sexual organs and the like, but the rest of the brain remains the same. His brain and the rest of her body are killed.
    Alice has a female brain (almost) and mind, and a male rest of the body.
    On a distant planet, Alice 2 comes into existence due to a weird quantum phenomenon (ala a Boltzmann brain), and has the same brain and rest of the body as Alice (so, fake memories and all), but no past.

    Are Alice and Alice 2 women, men, or neither?

    Scenario 7:

    A young baby boy loses his penis to a botched circumcision. He is raised as a girl. From a young age, he claims to be a boy in the body of a girl.

    Is the talking incoherently?
    Is he a boy? How does he know?

    Also, generally, I would like to ask you about real cases of boys with no penises, raised as girls – sometimes, also given female hormones – but who claim to be boys trapped in the body of girls. What do you make of those claims? Are they coherent? True? Are they on to something?

  48. Jacques,

    Regarding the claim that “woman” and “man” mean the same across cultures and (modulo translation) languages, I think that that may be true, but it might not. The case is not as strong as you think, in my assessment.

    Let’s consider the term “water”. As I mentioned, there are philosophers who intuitively reckon that XYZ on Twin Earth would be water, even knowing that on Earth, it’s H2O. They are of course generally competent English speakers, but apparently either they got the meaning of that particular word wrong (if they’re a very tiny minority), or perhaps (if the minority is not so tiny; I think this is less likely in the present day, as I explained), there are at least two different correct usages of “water” in colloquial English, and nearly everyone does not know that. Either way, despite the fact that people in the two groups mean different things by “water”, they usually communicate without a problem, given that the referent overlaps massively, and in fact, at least in the actual world, they are apparently a perfect match (but not in the sense of metaphysical necessity – probably) – unless those usages have some other, as yet undetected differences; but at least, in our daily lives, there is no problem: they pick the same stuff.

    If the above holds (which seems probable), it seems it does not take so much for different human beings to intuitively apprehend different meanings of “water”, even if they learn the meaning in a similar fashion: i.e., ostensively, and with similar examples. Perhaps, what makes the difference is some other features of the framework that the person has, the more or less fuzzy picture of part of the world they have in mind when they are learning the term “water”, or making it more precise as they grow old. For example, maybe when it comes to the way “water” is used by young children, there is no fact of the matter as to whether XYZ would be water (the word is not used by young children with enough precision to be used in such contexts), and later in life people come down on one side or another, most of them on the side of XYZ not being H2O. Or perhaps some other features of a person’s psychology plays a role from starters. But however that works, it does not seem so far-fetched that in perhaps a minority of other human linguistic communities, they have or had in the past a word (say, “retaw”) that plays a role similar in their linguistic community to “water” in ours, but in theirs, the majority (of adult, competent speakers) use “retaw” in a way such that XYZ would be retaw, even given that retaw on Earth is H2O.

    Did that happen in the past, in English, in some community?

    I don’t really know for sure. Maybe I can say probably not, but tentatively.

    Did that happen at some point in the past in some language other than English? (or in the present, but the past has many more linguistic communities, so the chances go up)

    I don’t know. I would not hazard a guess. I would not be surprised.

    Surely, nearly all humans care about water on Earth – i.e., the liquid that we drink. But it turns out that both the term “water” as we use them, and “retaw” pick without a problem the liquid we care about, here on Earth. While metaphysically possible, it’s not the case that there is another liquid XYZ in the actual universe that is retaw but not water. But if it were, that too would not cause any problem for communities of humans living here on Earth.

    Might there also be differences in the meaning of the terms “woman” and “man” in English across time and/or across different linguistic subcommunities at a given time?
    Might there be some linguistic communities that at some point in the past that used words usually translated as “woman” and “man” into present-day English (or would be so if their language were known, etc.), and which pick the same referent as “man” and “woman” at least in nearly all cases, in all normal cases, and probably as far as people in both communities know, in all cases, but which do not mean the same?

    I don’t know why not. In fact, there might be not just more than one, but more than two historical meanings of those words (in this context, I’m talking about different meanings in different linguistic communities).

    Even if today, the words “man”, “woman”, and words generally translated as such mean the same in all linguistic communities – maybe, but I’m not certain -, there may well be a smaller portion of competent English speakers (and the same for other languages, if you want to restrict the case to native speakers) who don’t use “woman” and “man” like the majority, just like there seems to be a small portion of English speakers that do not use “water” like the majority.

    The above is in addition to the possibility that the English words “woman” and “man” might have more than one meaning in present-day usage and by the same people, in different contexts, which would explain a number of the scenarios – there are also reasons against that, but it’s not a clear-cut case.

    So, I don’t think you have nearly a strong a case as you think you have here, when it comes to the claim that there is a single colloquial meaning across time and space of the words “woman” and “man” (or other words in other languages).

    That aside, with regard to coherence, let’s say that one of the people who uses “water” in an unusual sense is told about the Twin Earth scenario, and he says that XYZ would be water, even if it’s H2O on Earth. Now, given present-day English usage of “water”, it is probable that he is mistaken. But is he being incoherent? I don’t think so.
    It would not be correct to say that – for example – since the word “water” in English has a meaning such that if water is H2O on Earth, XYZ on Twin Earth would not be water, asserting something like “Even though water is H2O on Earth, XYZ would be water on Twin Earth” entails a contradiction, and so the person is implying a contradiction, and so being incoherent. Having picked the meaning of a word wrong is not the same as speaking incoherently.

  49. At this point I’m pretty lost.

    “I think I did provide “a rough approximation”, by listing some of those properties (including differences in predispositions to violence, indiscriminate sex, etc.; processing some verbal and spatial info, some sounds and smells, etc., and saying that such differences are probably widespread).”

    These properties are typical of human females (more than human males) and human females in lots of other species. They don’t characterize females across all actual species. I doubt that most mammal species, even, have dimorphic psychologies more-or-less like this. However, when people think of biology and evolution they just do think that there are females in our species and many others, even the ones where there’s nothing like the human female mind. So you seem to be implying that there’s no natural kind ‘female’ to which human females and lots of other females belong. Is that right? There are just humans we call ‘female’, lizards we call ‘female’, etc., but this is like saying that there’s ‘Cape’ Horn as well as Superman’s ‘cape’? But I’m pretty sure that people, even biologists, take themselves to be identifying a natural kind. For example, the theory that humans evolved from pre-human beings, who presumably had very different kinds of minds if you go back far enough, would be a lot weaker and weirder if we didn’t assume that there were males and females prior to the emergence of anything like the minds of human males and females. If you think there is any natural kind here–or even that it’s probable that there is–wouldn’t you then have to admit that your psychological characterization of the kind is open to lots of seeming counter-examples in exactly the way that any attempt at a precise characterization of reproductive role would be?

    “surely it’s not incoherent to deny in any colloquial sense of “female” that the females normally produce the things that get fertilized.”

    I must be misunderstanding you here. Surely, females _are_ the ones that (in a species with sexes) normally produce things that get fertilized. And this is a “colloquial” use of the term, at least in societies where people know a bit about sexual reproduction. Why would anyone deny this? Are there species where sperm get fertilized by eggs, or where males produce eggs that then get fertilized? Or is the idea that no one ever has this role in mind as some part of the meaning of “female”, except in sex ed class or at the doctor’s office? I’d say it’s not part of the colloquial meaning that females have a typical or normal mind, are more risk-averse, etc. After all, don’t lots of feminists and other GoodThinking people nowadays angrily denounce the idea that human females differ in any of these ways from human males? Or they say the differences are due merely to socialization and oppression–but they don’t generally say that once we get rid of all that oppression there will be no more females. (In my circle, anyway, they’d say that females won’t be any more “feminine” than males after the revolution.)

    “Bob is a man, and Alice is a woman. They live on Earth. Now, like in a movie, they swap bodies. Alice is now in a male body. She’s still a woman. Is she female?”

    I think I already talked about this one, at least once. I say she might be a woman, at least for a while, and probably (if she is one) because of her history. So I’ll have to say she’s female too. But, again, if that makes sense it doesn’t mean that her mind alone makes her a woman, or makes her female. It could be her history. Or, for all I know, our concepts have no determinate application to this kind of case.

    “Is Alice 2 a woman, a man, or neither?”

    Here I’m even less sure what I think. Maybe she’s neither. Maybe she’s a very confused man. I admit I’m not sure she _isn’t_ a woman! Maybe I’d say that she was. (Maybe that would be a matter of politeness and sensitivity.) But what should I make of that? Do you really have the firm and unconflicted intuition that this being is a woman? My sense is that this kind of thing is too remote from anything that our concepts evolved to deal with for us to place much stock in intuition, even if they seem pretty clear. (In part because there are other weird scenarios where my intuitions, anyway, give conflicting verdicts.) It makes me think of Wittgenstein’s story about the adult drawing a picture of a tree and saying “This is a tree”, then the child scribbles all over the page and asks “So what is this?” Just because we can invent these scenarios, even understand them in some sense, it doesn’t follow that we’re really making sense or learning anything much. We work with incoherent ideas all the time. I say similar things about your scenario 6 (and I think I said it earlier?)

    Maybe I’ll ask you to say more about something I wanted to press. If pure psychology is sufficient, under some “common” use of “female”, then people should at least act as if it were sufficient. For example, they should often hesitate to affirm “female” when they don’t know anything much about the mind or future mental state of a given person. But they don’t seem to act that way. The doctor doesn’t act as if he doubts that the baby is a girl, though he knows nothing much about her present or future psychology (and knows that he knows that). Show people pictures of human beings and they quite confidently identify them–with only very very rare exceptions–as male or female, knowing nothing about their psychology (and knowing that they know that). I still don’t understand how this fits with the claim that it’s “common” to use the word in some way that fits with your sufficiency condition. You can’t mean that we treat it as sufficient in just holding some theoretical belief, because you said earlier that you think most people have never thought about this–maybe wouldn’t even understand the issue. So that seems to leave only their behavior as evidence for this being treated or understood (implicitly or unconsciously) as a sufficient condition. Again, I don’t know of any cases where our behavior actually is evidence except a certain version of trans ideology and some thought experiments about imaginary people. But even if that is evidence, isn’t it greatly outweighed by all the other ordinary cases where people’s behavior is not what we’d expect on your interpretation? I hope I’m not just repeating myself here. I don’t see that this natural objection to your view has really been addressed. Maybe I missed it. As I said I’m feeling kind of lost.

  50. This is out of control already but I want to mention one more consideration… Does it matter how we’re likely to have first developed our concepts? Because I assume that one very important thing for the earliest human or proto-human language users would have been reproduction, the division between the sex that births and the other one… It seems very unlikely to me that we didn’t very early on develop a conception of the difference, and think it was super-important, at the center of human life, and way more important than any observable psychological differences let alone subtle unknown differences that presumably have little observable impact on human life. Now we have these terms ‘woman’ and ‘man’ that map onto that super-important basic role or capacity distinction very nicely. Wouldn’t it be an odd coincidence if we had no ancient words (or cognates) for conceiving this role, but we did happen to have some others with entirely unrelated meanings that are more-or-less co-referential?

    • Jacques,

      For early ancestors, I agree reproduction would have been important, but also external sexual organs (they still are), so either of those could be used for an ostensive definition. However, as we define concepts ostensibly, often what turns out to be the commonality of the things we pick and that ends up being central to whether X is Y depends on empirical factors and not on the things we actually see. Also, minds are often important in our conception of agency, so even if they were picking some reproductive role, there are still issues like whether it’s the case that the normal reproductive role of a person with M sex organs is male, or the normal reproductive role of a person with F mind is female, or both but then what prevails in case of conflict (which early hunter gatherers probably did not have an idea of).

      It’s also not clear to me whether much later, people in other linguistic communities and with vastly different views of the world would use the same concept, even if they do care about reproduction a lot. People also care about water a lot, but it’s not clear to me that they’d be using the same concept to pick it up, cross-culturally, for the reasons I explained earlier.

      So, I would grant that you have some evidence in support of your view on the basis of that, but I don’t think it’s nearly as strong as you think it is.

  51. Jacques,

    What I meant was roughly this: there are two general ways of looking at human nature, sex, the sexes, etc.

    I tend to disagree with that, though I guess you could say those are different ways to implement things, details and the like?

    But if you want to ask about this specific issue, I think it would be wrong, given the available evidence, to encourage people to have reassignment surgery.

    Whether you realize it or not, you’re disrupting or subverting what most people take to be obvious and straightforward systems of belief–maybe women don’t have to be female, maybe there’s no such thing as a female reproductive role, maybe female humans and female lizards don’t really belong to any one natural kind, etc.

    No, you’re misrepresenting my view (though you do not realize it). I didn’t say maybe there is no such thing as a human female reproductive role, and also female lizards also make bigger gametes, etc. As for natural kinds (though I think that’s also largely a matter of the psychology of the classifying entity), I’m not challengeing that.

    And the issues of whether whether a person with a female mind and male body or female mind+brain and male rest of the body would be a man or a woman or neither are matters about the semantics of those words that should not be interpreted as having the sort of consequences you seem to have in mind.

    I’m saying that even if you are raising interesting points that deserve philosophical discussion in _some_ context, this is not the right one.

    I’m raising this points in response to your points. My original point was mostly about interpreting transgender claims and others being careful not to conflate the claims of different people, distinguish between false but consistent and inconsistent claims, etc.

    In this context, for us over here, this is just poison.

    I disagree. I think the poison is the continuous attacks (from either side) on the other side, with constant misconstruction and misrepresentation of what other people believe, intend, etc. Usually, this is not at all deliberate. People are being sincere. But the problem remains.

    We’ve entered a phase of suicidal nihilism. Every source of meaning and identity and purpose has been thoroughly subverted, deconstructed, abolished.

    This seems to be a common conflation from the right. I reckon that Christianity is false and debunking it is fine, and I’m in favor of – for example – legal abortion; I’m opposed to claims that same-sex sex is immoral, etc.; on the other hand I think the left is generally authoritarian, that is often suppressing speech, they too deny much of science or make false claims allegedly but not really based on science (sex differences, for example, but also often nuclear energy, GMO, etc.), etc.

    Since you apparently agree that the actual ideas and policies and norms now being imposed on us are (probably) incoherent and false, apart from some merely possible trans theory applied to imaginary beings, you should not be publicly arguing for claims that just add to our confusion.

    While I don’t think I have an obligation to take part in the present debate, I was actualky trying to do that. My original post here was aimed at reducing the confusion that is often spread by misrepresenting some claims of other people (due to conflation with the claims of others, or just misreading), etc.

    We’re too weak and sick. We can’t really tolerate it. (Well, I guess I can, but I don’t think my society as a whole can.) The more confused and uncertain we are, the easier it is for our elites to move ahead with what they want–and they’re very aggressive and confident, and not at all interested in any “civil debate”.

    Frankly, I see so much confusion on both sides, that it’s difficult for me to see who’s more confused. My position is probably why people on both sides usually do not tolerate me if they know what I think, condemn me both for what I think and for what I don’t but they think I do, etc.

    But when the “gay marriage” debate happened I thought “This is completely insane”… I mean, I had no moral objection at the time to homosexual behavior or relationships. Just didn’t care at all. But it seemed to me they were saying we had a moral obligation to believe something incoherent or, anyway, plainly false.

    I see. Thanks for explaining.

    We disagree on that by the way – I’m in favor of gay marriage, but I guess you think “gay marriage” is incoherent or something like that. I don’t have the time to engage in another debate like this, so I will not argue for gay marriage.

    Likewise, I was raised an agnostic or atheist, some kind of typical materialist, and I only became sympathetic to religion as a result of thinking about philosophy much later in life. There was too much in reality that seemed incompatible with a materialist or scientistic view. And once I began to think that was a very inadequate world-view, I began to take more seriously supernatural accounts. So the process was the reverse of what you’re imagining. I didn’t go from a conservative or religious background to political conclusions; instead, I went from liberalism and non-religion to political conclusions that seemed required by common sense or philosophical reasoning… and then I found that I agreed with “conservatives” on many things.

    I see; thanks for explaining.

    Yes, I think he’s probably talking incoherently, but intelligibly. (We have to understand an incoherent claim in order to figure out that it’s incoherent, or how it’s incoherent.) Or, anyway, it’s definitely false that he’s a boy in the body of a girl, since he definitely doesn’t have that kind of body.

    Yes, I agree that it’s false. But it does not seem incoherent at all to me.

    Also, for example Pinker says (in “The Blank Slate”) “If gender is socially constructed, the child should have the mind of a normal girl; if it depends on prenatal hormones, the child should feel like a boy trapped in a girl’s
    body.”, which seems coherent to me. The point is that the idea of a boy trapped in a girl’s body seems coherent, even if there is no previous different history.

    To be clear, I do allow that there could be cases of a boy in a girl’s body. Given that his mind or brain has the right history, for example. Or maybe the history of a soul.

    But the cases of Alice 2 in scenarios 5 and 5 are cases without such history (memories are fake), and Pinker’s prediction seems coherent even if there is no such history.

    But there are still going to be lots of ways in which the boy’s body is still a _boy’s_ body rather than a girl’s. And if you think it’s improbable that a man has a female mind, you should agree that we don’t have techniques for inducing _all_ the many super-complex and subtle _physical_ features that constitute a female body and reproductive system and brain, etc. Therefore, it could well be that a boy in this situation is just aware of some or all of the deep sexed features of his own physiology even if he can’t, of course, put this into words. He might just sense that his body isn’t _like_ the bodies of girls in some important way, or that it feels like the bodies of boys that he observes. But how? Well, I don’t know but I don’t think I need a serious theory. I just allow that there might be lots of powerful sub-conscious perceptions including perceptions of likeness or affinity or whatever. Alternatively, maybe he knows somehow by being aware of some purely psychological facts about himself, and being aware of some differences between boy mind and girl minds. That doesn’t imply that what makes him a boy is just his mind, of course, but only that (maybe) he uses knowledge of his mind to identify his maleness (just as medievals could use phenomenal properties to identify H2O).

    Okay, so we don’t know how, but in order to classify himself as a boy, he has to also somehow find the same features in other boys and not girls (else, how to find which group he belongs to?), so it has to be either behavioral traits (and so, mental ones), or traits that are visible, audible, etc., (i.e. purely internal features won’t cut it, as long as behavior is not factored in). It might be that he is unconsciously picking up on some of those features, or it may be that unconsciously he is picking up upon behavior, or a combination of both. But we do not really know, and yet he’s willing to classify himself as a boy, in spite of what he’s been told, and in spite of not having male external sexual organs. It’s not like the “water” case: he knows he has no external male sexual organs, and probably thinks what he has is like what girls have (it’s not as if he can compare from a close distance; well, probably).

    Is there a reason why these kinds of cases would be a problem for me?

    I think so, when it comes to the coherence or incoherence of the claims.

    1. Pinker and others have no problem saying that these people would probably feel (if a theory is correct, but it is) like a boy trapped in the body of a girl.
    2. When they make that claim (the boys), they do so knowing that they do not have what men have (very, very probably, at least some know that, since they’re told they’re girls, not boys, and at some point they will ask about the differences).

  52. Jacques,

    These properties are typical of human females (more than human males) and human females in lots of other species. They don’t characterize females across all actual species.

    The point you’re replying to was my reply to a post of yours when you said “So we’re now talking only about a set of traits that you can’t specify, for the most part, but which you take to be sufficient”, etc., in reply to my If they have all of those too, I would be thinking they probably are men”.

    It did sound to me like you were perhaps conflating two different parts of the exchange when you said “Also, it sounds like you’re admitting that you don’t have “even a rough approximation” of an account of this kind of mind. At least, if what I’ve said about reproductive role can’t be even a rough approximation, this isn’t either.”, but I interpreted that you didn’t make a mistaken conflation, but instead just meant to compare my critique to your claim about all females to your critique to my claim about human ones.

    But now it does seem like you were conflating those?
    If not, there seems to be some miscommunication going on here. Anyway, I’ll address the rest of your points.

    I must be misunderstanding you here. Surely, females _are_ the ones that (in a species with sexes) normally produce things that get fertilized. And this is a “colloquial” use of the term, at least in societies where people know a bit about sexual reproduction. Why would anyone deny this? Are there species where sperm get fertilized by eggs, or where males produce eggs that then get fertilized?

    I’m talking about the colloquial usages, ostensively defined, as opposed to the scientific definitions in terms of eggs. As I said, females normally make eggs, and that’s by definition in the scientific sense; not by definition but still at least a good rough approximation in the other.

    What I’m saying is that it’s not incoherent to say, in any non-scientific sense of the term “female” (not just “human female”) that scientists got it wrong, and that in cats, dogs, horses, and all animals that get pregnant (for example), males put some eggs inside the females, which fertilize them. Just as I can say coherently that water is not H2O, but a simple substance and scientists are wrong. My point was that whatever it is that all females (in any colloquial sense of “female”) have in common (larger eggs that normally are fertilized if you like), we can coherently deny it.

    Here I’m even less sure what I think. Maybe she’s neither. Maybe she’s a very confused man. I admit I’m not sure she _isn’t_ a woman! Maybe I’d say that she was. (Maybe that would be a matter of politeness and sensitivity.) But what should I make of that? Do you really have the firm and unconflicted intuition that this being is a woman?

    I do have that clear intuition, or more to the point, after considering further evidence given your usage, now I have raised the probability that I grasped the meaning of “woman” wrong! But going by my intuitive understanding, sure. And it seems to me that other people would say the same, but I would need to test that (later; for now, I don’t have time to also do that).

    Maybe I’ll ask you to say more about something I wanted to press. If pure psychology is sufficient, under some “common” use of “female”, then people should at least act as if it were sufficient. For example, they should often hesitate to affirm “female” when they don’t know anything much about the mind or future mental state of a given person. But they don’t seem to act that way. The doctor doesn’t act as if he doubts that the baby is a girl, though he knows nothing much about her present or future psychology (and knows that he knows that). Show people pictures of human beings and they quite confidently identify them–with only very very rare exceptions–as male or female, knowing nothing about their psychology (and knowing that they know that). I still don’t understand how this fits with the claim that it’s “common” to use the word in some way that fits with your sufficiency condition. You can’t mean that we treat it as sufficient in just holding some theoretical belief, because you said earlier that you think most people have never thought about this–maybe wouldn’t even understand the issue. So that seems to leave only their behavior as evidence for this being treated or understood (implicitly or unconsciously) as a sufficient condition. Again, I don’t know of any cases where our behavior actually is evidence except a certain version of trans ideology and some thought experiments about imaginary people. But even if that is evidence, isn’t it greatly outweighed by all the other ordinary cases where people’s behavior is not what we’d expect on your interpretation? I hope I’m not just repeating myself here. I don’t see that this natural objection to your view has really been addressed. Maybe I missed it. As I said I’m feeling kind of lost.

    I think I addressed these sorts of objections, but here goes:

    1. I was talking about “woman”, and “man”, at that point. I already considered the options for “male” and “female”, but that obscures matters again (because I have to consider whether you are right and they always match, or not).

    2. What the doctor means is a matter that further complicates things (see my reply to the doctor case in an earlier post for more details).

    3. Regardless of 1. and 2., and with respect to your central question, of course people know a lot about their psychology when they see a picture (and the doctor when he sees that a baby has female sexual organs, or male sexual organs).
    Normally, at least, just as by taking a look at a fully dressed adult human being one can tell whether that person has male or female sexual organs with extremely high accuracy, one can also tell whether a person has a female or a male mind with extremely high accuracy. One may not be thinking about mind when classifying, but one is also not thinking of sexual organs (in nearly all cases). One is just using, very effective method of classifying.
    Now, it might be objected “But what if the person looking at the picture doesn’t know enough to list the properties of female and male psychology, or at least most of them?”.

    Well, very probably the person looking at the picture knows several of the differences and can list them, but in any case, for that matter, people are willing to classify stuff as water without having a clue as to the chemical composition of water, yet being made of H2O is sufficient for something to be water, and being made of H2O2 (or whatever) is necessarily sufficient for it not to be.
    Granted, being made of H2O sufficient to be water given that water is H2O in the actual world, but the sufficiency cannot be established on conceptual grounds alone (and the same for H2O2). But for that matter, I’m saying that having such-and-such mind is (probably, though I’ve lowered the probability) sufficient for being a woman given such-and-such facts about the actual world, like there being differences between female and male human minds, those differences being not minuscule but significant, etc. ).

  53. “But we do not really know, and yet he’s willing to classify himself as a boy, in spite of what he’s been told, and in spite of not having male external sexual organs. It’s not like the “water” case: he knows he has no external male sexual organs…”

    There might well be something mysterious about his knowledge. I’m pretty confident that people do often know that they’re male (or that they’re female) without being able to explain all the details. One reason is just that–if I’m right about what male and female are–the people in these actual stories seem to usually just know their real sex. It might be just like the ‘water’ case. Maybe there are subtle phenomenological cues (or spiritual ones, or whatever) that reliably pick out one’s own sex, even though these are not the nature of the thing being picked out. Maybe we can also pick that out by observing external sex features even though those are also not what constitute the sex being picked out. Likewise, people picked out H2O without directly observing its chemical composition or knowing what it was, by means of phenomenology and other reliable cues. Or maybe I don’t know the difference you see between these cases.

    “When they make that claim (the boys), they do so knowing that they do not have what men have (very, very probably, at least some know that, since they’re told they’re girls, not boys, and at some point they will ask about the differences).”

    But they _should_ naturally have had just what other boys have, what men do naturally have. And they might somehow sense this. Maybe they’re aware of lots of other stuff that they do in fact have, without being able to name or describe any of it. For example, they do have lots of really important internal physiologically male parts and systems and processes going on. Maybe they somehow sense on that basis that other more readily observable things don’t seem right, don’t feel comfortable, etc. I don’t really know. I take it that you think this suggests a purely psychological property could be sufficient for them to be boys, or to apply the concept ‘male’ to themselves? To me it’s far more natural to assume that if there is such a property it’s just serving as a Fregean sense, and its caused by the underlying physiological realities, and all of that is explained ultimately by the reproductive role nature intended for them. The role is what they’re picking out by means of all this. You disagree but I don’t think this kind of story supports your view over mine, if that’s why you bring it up.

    “It would not be correct to say that – for example – since the word “water” in English has a meaning such that if water is H2O on Earth, XYZ on Twin Earth would not be water, asserting something like “Even though water is H2O on Earth, XYZ would be water on Twin Earth” entails a contradiction”

    That sounds right, although I’m not entirely sure. (Depends on how we understand the propositional contents or commitments of speakers who operate with such a ‘meaning’ and how it relates to what they consciously believe, and probably other things.) But what if people’s use of “water” indicates that they treat being H2O, or just being the same stuff as whatever liquid was actually ostended, is a necessary condition for something to count as water? In that case there’d be something incoherent in claiming that XYZ is water but not H2O, or not a sample of that stuff. Of course, it’s unlikely that anyone would explicitly say “It has to be X to be Y, but though it’s not X it’s still Y”. But we’re often not conscious of the necessary conditions for correct use of our own words, or not able to articulate them. I’m saying that people who claim Jenner is a woman despite knowing that he has a fully male physiology and reproductive capacity (including brain) or despite having no idea whether he does, are claiming something incoherent in that sort of way.

    “They are of course generally competent English speakers, but apparently either they got the meaning of that particular word wrong (if they’re a very tiny minority), or perhaps (if the minority is not so tiny; I think this is less likely in the present day, as I explained), there are at least two different correct usages of “water” in colloquial English”

    Or they have the same meaning in mind as everyone else, but they have a different idea about the nature of the referent. A philosopher might say “It would be water, in being the same liquid, same natural kind; but it wouldn’t fit the concept or criteria that we happen to have for picking out that kind”.

    “Having picked the meaning of a word wrong is not the same as speaking incoherently.”

    That’s for sure! But why should we think this is what’s happening in such cases, or even that it could happen? You seem to accept the standard Putnam-Kripke type of view about “water” and H2O. But on that view, the meanings of words like “water” aren’t subject to this kind of individual variation, especially when it’s something that (as you’re arguing) makes no real difference to actual communication. The meaning (in this sense) is supposed to be fixed publicly and historically. So people don’t really “pick” a meaning for their own use of the term. They mean whatever it has come to mean across time and in communication and in interaction with the stuff. So (on this view) a philosopher who says that XYZ would be water is using the same concept as the one who says it couldn’t be water. He doesn’t mean that water* would be water. It’s not clear to me whether this might somehow entail a contradiction. Anyway his attitude couldn’t be made coherent just by adjusting his personal meaning for “water”. But maybe you accept only some parts of the standard view but not others?

    “What I’m saying is that it’s not incoherent to say, in any non-scientific sense of the term “female” (not just “human female”) that scientists got it wrong, and that in cats, dogs, horses, and all animals that get pregnant (for example), males put some eggs inside the females, which fertilize them.”

    If someone told me that, as it turns out, human males deposit eggs that human females fertilize, I really would wonder whether we’d labelled the males and females correctly–or whether I knew what exactly ‘male’ and ‘female’ meant, if anything. Maybe that’s because a sufficiently well known and uncontroversial empirical fact about a referent can eventually end up being part of the meaning. What if we imagine an evolutionary future where the ‘males’ don’t even deposit their eggs anymore, but rather get them fertilized by ‘females’ whose physiology is just like what we now call ‘men’? Would you still intuit that they’re really males anyway, as long as their psychology is a lot like actual present male psychology? Or, if there were just one or two whose psychology was like that, then those ones at least would be males not just ‘males’? Because I really don’t think that most people would use these words in this way. Probably they’d just be very confused by both stories.

    “And the issues of whether whether a person with a female mind and male body or female mind+brain and male rest of the body would be a man or a woman or neither are matters about the semantics of those words that should not be interpreted as having the sort of consequences you seem to have in mind.”

    Maybe they shouldn’t be if we’re talking strictly about some rational or philosophical standard. I’m not sure. I think this is really (another) complicated hard philosophical question (which I won’t get into). Regardless, they _will_ be taken to have those sorts of consequences by regular people who are being fed aggressive propaganda, whose few sources of confidence and moral certainty are under attack, etc. The net effect will be to make all of this seem (even more) confusing and unsettled and, in the end, just hopeless. Most people don’t have the patience or ability or intelligence to sort through distinctions between semantics and metaphysics and all the rest. I can barely do it myself, on a good day, and I’m far outside the norm in lots of ways with respect to these kinds of discussions.

    “I’m raising this points in response to your points. My original point was mostly about interpreting transgender claims and others being careful not to conflate the claims of different people, distinguish between false but consistent and inconsistent claims, etc.”

    I’d care about this if we were in a situation over here where some kind of “civil debate” was possible, or where there was any indication that the powers that be would want that. The way things are, it appears they want to preclude it, stigmatize and ostracize people on my side (and probably criminalize the expression of our views, in the long run). Unless you disagree that that’s our situation, I don’t understand why you’d think this kind of intellectual hygiene was particularly important. Especially since you appear to agree that the actual trans ideology is at least poorly supported and probably not a good idea even for most of its supposed beneficiaries.

    “This seems to be a common conflation from the right. I reckon that Christianity is false and debunking it is fine, and I’m in favor of – for example – legal abortion; I’m opposed to claims that same-sex sex is immoral, etc.”

    What am I conflating? I also don’t have an objection to debunking Christianity (though I think that’s a lot harder than people think it is) and I don’t think legal abortion or tolerance of homosexuality are in themselves suicidal or nihilistic. It would depend on why Christianity is being debunked, for what reasons, why homosexuality is tolerated, etc. There have been many non-suicidal non-nihilistic societies that were not Christian or anti-gay. But I think it’s pretty clear that people in the modern west are suicidally nihilistic. We’re not reproducing, we lack the will to oppose even the most openly hostile and unassimilable immigration, we produce grotesquely nihilistic art and culture, etc. These are behaviors of people who believe nothing much, who are despairing or self-loathing or just very selfish and short-termist. The main issue with respect to sex and sexuality–which is just one aspect of our degeneracy–is that we’re eliminating any meaning for sex and sexual identity other than the transient whims or drives of the individual. It’s not supposed to have any important connection to the past or the future, family or society, or even the holistic long-term identity and interests of the individual xerself. It has no moral or psychological structure other than what we want it be, now, or what we “socially construct” for it. (In case you don’t know, there _are_ already progressives who are denying that there is such a thing as a _biological_ sex. I’ve been told by more than one humanities professor that the scientists all know this.) This seems nihilistic to me, and suicidal because I don’t think any healthy society can understand things that way. (I’m not aware of even one example, and the implications of such a view are disastrous if anything like a traditional understanding of human nature or even just an evolutionary understanding is correct.) I’d believe this regardless of any opinions I might have about abortion or the morality of homosexuality. For what it’s worth, I think mainstream “conservatism” has been just as damaging to the west in most of these ways–it tends to be just a nicer dumber version of progressivism with some incompatible remnants of other ways of life hanging on, for a while. But if you don’t agree that we’re in this dire situation then we’d have a whole other debate opening up, so never mind.

  54. Jacques,

    Here’s the first part:

    There might well be something mysterious about his knowledge. I’m pretty confident that people do often know that they’re male (or that they’re female) without being able to explain all the details. One reason is just that–if I’m right about what male and female are–the people in these actual stories seem to usually just know their real sex. It might be just like the ‘water’ case. Maybe there are subtle phenomenological cues (or spiritual ones, or whatever) that reliably pick out one’s own sex, even though these are not the nature of the thing being picked out. Maybe we can also pick that out by observing external sex features even though those are also not what constitute the sex being picked out. Likewise, people picked out H2O without directly observing its chemical composition or knowing what it was, by means of phenomenology and other reliable cues. Or maybe I don’t know the difference you see between these cases.

    You mean, the difference between the H2O case and the cases I’m raising here?

    Whatever they’re picking, those who say that they’re boys trapped in the body of a girl seem to be not only picking up on reliable cues (whatever those are) that may well not constitute the sex being picked out, but rather, they’re insisting that they’re boys while denying what you seem to think constitutes at least part of the sex that is being picked up, and moreover, while denying what you seem to think (if I got this right) is something that can be established by conceptual analysis that constitutes the sex that is being picked up (hence, your point about incoherence).

    Now, not all of them say the same (I don’t have quotations to be sure), so I’m not saying all those cases count as evidence against your position about the meaning of the words, but some of them very probably are.

    Granted, those are boys not adults, so their linguistic competence is more limited, but the claims seem to be understood by adults as well, and sometimes made or denied, raising no issue about coherence.

    As I mentioned for example, Pinker – who is by no means an adherence to the new ideologies you oppose – says “If gender is socially constructed, the child should have the mind of a normal girl; if it depends on prenatal hormones, the child should feel like a boy trapped in a girl’s
    body.” This has been quoted and in a good number of places, and I have never seen an objection holding that it’s incoherent.

    But they _should_ naturally have had just what other boys have, what men do naturally have. And they might somehow sense this. Maybe they’re aware of lots of other stuff that they do in fact have, without being able to name or describe any of it. For example, they do have lots of really important internal physiologically male parts and systems and processes going on. Maybe they somehow sense on that basis that other more readily observable things don’t seem right, don’t feel comfortable, etc. I don’t really know. I take it that you think this suggests a purely psychological property could be sufficient for them to be boys, or to apply the concept ‘male’ to themselves? To me it’s far more natural to assume that if there is such a property it’s just serving as a Fregean sense, and its caused by the underlying physiological realities, and all of that is explained ultimately by the reproductive role nature intended for them. The role is what they’re picking out by means of all this. You disagree but I don’t think this kind of story supports your view over mine, if that’s why you bring it up.

    I don’t know whether they’re picking up behavioral or non-behavioral cues. It’s a matter for future research. So, my weaker suggestion is that you can’t rule out it’s behavioral cues, which are indications of minds.
    But whatever it is, they seem to believe the difference they’re picking (even if they don’t know how they’re picking it) is mental. And they do seem clearly coherent to me (yes, maybe not to you; it’s testable of course, though probably neither of us has the time no).

    Let me put it in a different way: people who make those claims seem to believe that some mental property or properties suffice to make them boys, even if trapped into the body of girls. As I mentioned, this point is not so strong because not all of them use that language, and they’re children, but I don’t see adults having a problem with the language, either.

    I don’t think this is decisive, but I do think it clearly counts at least in favor of the coherence of such claims, and not in a negligible manner.

  55. Jacques,

    Part 2:

    But what if people’s use of “water” indicates that they treat being H2O, or just being the same stuff as whatever liquid was actually ostended, is a necessary condition for something to count as water? In that case there’d be something incoherent in claiming that XYZ is water but not H2O, or not a sample of that stuff. Of course, it’s unlikely that anyone would explicitly say “It has to be X to be Y, but though it’s not X it’s still Y”. But we’re often not conscious of the necessary conditions for correct use of our own words, or not able to articulate them. I’m saying that people who claim Jenner is a woman despite knowing that he has a fully male physiology and reproductive capacity (including brain) or despite having no idea whether he does, are claiming something incoherent in that sort of way.

    Right, so you think it’s incoherent even if you take the words they utter to mean what they mean by them. In other words, you think that they (and I, though I do not claim that) got the intuitive meaning of the term correctly, but they’re now using in a way that is in conflict with that.
    Even assuming you’re right about that, using “incoherent” in this sense may give the wrong impression of what you’re saying.
    For example, let’s say that George is a philosopher who argues that (say) consequentialism is true and that deontology and virtue ethics are both false. Mary is a philosopher who argues that deontology is true and consequentialism and virtue ethics are false. Lucas is a philosopher who argues that virtue ethics is true, and that consequentialism and deontology are false.
    Now, George, Mary and Lucas mean the same by moral terms (I take you agree with that; else, let me know and I’ll adjust the argument), so it appears that if deontology is true (for example), George uses moral terms in a way that indicates he treats them as if deontology is true, but argues against it, so he’s being incoherent in the sense you have in mind. Also, Lucas is similarly being incoherent. But if deontology is false, then Mary is being incoherent (and at least one of the others).

    Or they have the same meaning in mind as everyone else, but they have a different idea about the nature of the referent. A philosopher might say “It would be water, in being the same liquid, same natural kind; but it wouldn’t fit the concept or criteria that we happen to have for picking out that kind”.

    But that indicates a different meaning, because they’re disposed to use the word “water” differently, in the sense that philosopher A seems to let whatever makes up water on Earth fix whatever is water in all possible scenarios, whereas philosopher B seems to let the way water looks up to some, less deep level, prevail.
    Maybe one is mistaken (incoherent in the sense in which you’re using that word), but I haven’t been able to identify any plausible source of bias that would do that, and it’s hard to see what that might be. It’s not as though they have some previous ideology about water, or that they have a theory that applies to all other concepts, or something like that.
    So, more probably, that’s some variation in the way people use the term, it seems to me.

    That’s for sure! But why should we think this is what’s happening in such cases, or even that it could happen?

    I think that’s the most probable scenario, given that there aren’t plausible sources of bias that would account for the mistake (or incoherence).

    You seem to accept the standard Putnam-Kripke type of view about “water” and H2O. But on that view, the meanings of words like “water” aren’t subject to this kind of individual variation, especially when it’s something that (as you’re arguing) makes no real difference to actual communication. The meaning (in this sense) is supposed to be fixed publicly and historically. So people don’t really “pick” a meaning for their own use of the term. They mean whatever it has come to mean across time and in communication and in interaction with the stuff. So (on this view) a philosopher who says that XYZ would be water is using the same concept as the one who says it couldn’t be water. He doesn’t mean that water* would be water. It’s not clear to me whether this might somehow entail a contradiction. Anyway his attitude couldn’t be made coherent just by adjusting his personal meaning for “water”. But maybe you accept only some parts of the standard view but not others?

    I’m not married to any theory. I think probably the meaning of “water” in English is that of the majority if it’s a large enough majority, because meaning is determined by usage. And it seems to me – tentatively – that that probably is a large enough majority. But that does not mean that there isn’t a small minority who are using the words differently.
    Well, I guess it might be said that they’re not using the words differently in the sense that, if they were given evidence that would convince them that the vast majority is using the words in a way that makes XYZ not water given that water is H2O here on Earth (and other background facts, etc.), they would change their position and say it’s not water. But that would not change the fact that in some serious sense, they’re not using the words like the majority (well, probably, in my assessment).

  56. “…they’re insisting that they’re boys while denying what you seem to think constitutes at least part of the sex that is being picked up, and moreover, while denying what you seem to think (if I got this right) is something that can be established by conceptual analysis that constitutes the sex that is being picked up (hence, your point about incoherence).”

    No, I don’t think that ‘has external male sex organs’ or anything like that is part of the meaning of ‘male’. My idea was that its meaning has to do with a reproductive role or capacity. You could be the kind of person naturally meant or built for that role even if something went wrong and you don’t have some or many or maybe even any of the features normally associated with it.

    “Pinker – who is by no means an adherence to the new ideologies you oppose – says “If gender is socially constructed, the child should have the mind of a normal girl; if it depends on prenatal hormones, the child should feel like a boy trapped in a girl’s
    body.” This has been quoted and in a good number of places, and I have never seen an objection holding that it’s incoherent.”

    I agree with Pinker, then. At least it sounds roughly right. If ‘gender’ were purely ‘socially constructed’ then the child would have the mind of a girl. If it were purely fixed by prenatal hormones, the child would feel like a boy in a girl’s body. But those aren’t the only two possibilities, and I’m not talking about ‘gender’ but sex. (I don’t know what exactly he means by ‘gender’ here. I’m assuming he means something like ‘a person’s understanding of his own sexual identity’…) Should I say that his view is incoherent? Or do you mean I should say that just the phrase ‘boy trapped in a girl’s body’ expresses something incoherent? But I don’t think that, and I don’t think my view requires me to think that.

    Maybe you missed it earlier, but I do allow the coherence of the idea of a boy trapped in a girl’s body. For all I know that could happen somehow. I just deny that it could happen _merely_ as a result of psychological facts about the person, with no physiology relating to natural reproductive role, no history relating to that kind of physiology, or anything else. And I think the number of people in the actual world who fit that description are a super-minority, way smaller than the large numbers of people now being encouraged to think of themselves as ‘trans’.

    Anyway, I think it’s far more plausible to say that these actual children are just boys who’ve been very badly mutilated and deceived and abused. A third possibility that Pinker seems to ignore in that quotation is that ‘gender’ in the sense of subjective sexual identity and objective biological sex too (i.e., male or female) are determined by a vast range of physical and mental traits that (in almost every case ever) people have as a result of their natural reproductive roles or capacities. Prenatal hormones are involved, but so are lots of other things, and none of that is “socially constructed”. On the other hand, of course people also add all kinds of further meanings or values or expectations to their basic ‘gender’ in that sense, and it could be that much of what they add involves “social construction” rather than biology.

  57. Jacques,
    Here’s part 3:

    If someone told me that, as it turns out, human males deposit eggs that human females fertilize, I really would wonder whether we’d labelled the males and females correctly–or whether I knew what exactly ‘male’ and ‘female’ meant, if anything. Maybe that’s because a sufficiently well known and uncontroversial empirical fact about a referent can eventually end up being part of the meaning.

    I’m not sure I understand. Were you not saying that the meaning of “male” and “female” held across time, and moreover, that they are/were equivalents in other languages too?
    But if “female” and “male” are defined ostensively in a society where there are no microscopes, chances are the definitions will not be committed to the hypothesis that the female makes something that is fertilized by the male, or anything like that.
    In fact, historically, there were widely varied opinions and controversies, and the belief that females made something that was the fertilized to make a new organism was at least contradicted implicitly by other beliefs (e. g., take a look at different beliefs in antiquity).
    Even after microscopes were invented, there were plenty of disagreements for over a century. For example, according to ovism, the male’s role (roughly) is to start the growth of the embryo, already formed in the female egg. Nothing is fertilized. This was believed when microscopes existed and were good enough to see ova but not sperm cells. But those beliefs were defended after the discovery of sperm cells too – which also was followed by the development of the competing theory of spermism, according to which the embryo was already made by the male and was a human being, and there was also nothing to be fertilized. This in particular implied the colossal waste of human beings with each ejaculation! (seriously, I’m not making this up: look it up, it’s really weird).
    Anyway, in short, even though perhaps the hypothetical claim I suggested was not seriously made before (but what do I know? Historically, there have been plenty of societies with their own sets of really weird claims, which of course did not look weird to them in many cases), the fact is that hypothesis that females make some egg (or whatever is called) is something that is in conflict with many past beliefs, and those beliefs were not contradictory (or not for that reason; maybe some of them were contradictory for some other reason; what do I know? But they don’t appear to have been so).

  58. “my weaker suggestion is that you can’t rule out it’s behavioral cues, which are indications of minds.
    But whatever it is, they seem to believe the difference they’re picking (even if they don’t know how they’re picking it) is mental.”

    It might well be behavioral cues, which are indicative of minds. But minds are also indicative of brains and physiology and evolution and reproductive role. Or, more generally, they might just think that certain facts about minds indicate their own maleness, without having any opinion on whether maleness is a mental thing, or whether (if it is) mental things aren’t also physical, etc. Now as far as I know, most of them are aware of being confused and puzzled about their own identities (if or once they’re old enough to reflect). They themselves find it hard to make sense of what they’re saying when they claim to be boys despite having (they think) girl bodies. And then when they learn the truth they typically feel that their own stories and identities finally make sense to them for the first time. So even if we put some weight on what these deceived and troubled kids are inclined to say, we should give equal weight (at least) to what they say later, when they’re older and better informed. The evidence you’re introducing here gets cancelled by equally good or better evidence of the same kind. But, again, I don’t think it would be incoherent for someone to claim to have a male mind in a female body, or that someone knows his sex by knowing some purely mental fact, but only that it would be incoherent to claim that purely mental facts all alone are enough to make the person male. And there’s no way that these kids have ideas about this topic fine-grained enough to establish that (while ignorant and confused and younger) they take themselves to be boys in virtue of a purely mental sufficient condition (rather than, say, treating purely mental facts as evidence that some other not-purely-mental sufficient condition is satisfied).

    “I don’t see adults having a problem with the language, either.”

    But, again, ask some adults whether a boy could be trapped in a girl’s body _solely_ because of how he feels. Clearly a lot of adults (and kids) think that does not make sense! Millions and millions at least, probably billions. Because, for example, that’s essentially what Jenner seemed to be saying at first–I don’t know how much surgery or whatever he’s now had. He was claiming that his feelings alone made it the case that he was really literally a woman, and lots and lots of people did indeed think that was utterly bizarre. This is probably the most common version of the trans thing–someone saying “I feel X, so I really am X”–and yes, many adults think that’s crazy, think that if the trannies are sincere they have a mental disorder. And I’m sure that if you’d taken a survey even just 30 years ago, prior to all the pro-trans messaging and stigmatizing of dissent, you’d have found that the overwhelming majority of people would have had that reaction. Well, I guess you can say you have no idea what the survey would have shown. But we can agree, I hope, that lots of adults do have a problem with this idea.

    • Jacques,

      It might well be behavioral cues, which are indicative of minds. But minds are also indicative of brains and physiology and evolution and reproductive role. Or, more generally, they might just think that certain facts about minds indicate their own maleness, without having any opinion on whether maleness is a mental thing, or whether (if it is) mental things aren’t also physical, etc.

      Perhaps, but at least they do not seem to take themselves to be talking about something that requires some non-mental properties, given that they claim to be in the body of a girl. Maybe it’s what I suggested earlier: that given their minds, it would be normal for them to have a male body.

      So even if we put some weight on what these deceived and troubled kids are inclined to say, we should give equal weight (at least) to what they say later, when they’re older and better informed.

      But what they say later does not seem to suggest that it would be contradictory for someone to be a boy in a girl’s body.

      But, again, ask some adults whether a boy could be trapped in a girl’s body _solely_ because of how he feels. Clearly a lot of adults (and kids) think that does not make sense! Millions and millions at least, probably billions.

      Clearly a lot believe it’s false. But do they believe it’s incoherent?
      My point is that there people who aren’t leftists do not seem to have a problem with this. I don’t know how many there are. But do you think generally, when the people who read Pinker’s book read the statement I quote, they say “this is incoherent”?

      Because, for example, that’s essentially what Jenner seemed to be saying at first–I don’t know how much surgery or whatever he’s now had. He was claiming that his feelings alone made it the case that he was really literally a woman, and lots and lots of people did indeed think that was utterly bizarre. This is probably the most common version of the trans thing–someone saying “I feel X, so I really am X”–and yes, many adults think that’s crazy, think that if the trannies are sincere they have a mental disorder.

      At first, as far as I know he was essentially saying two things, namely that he had the brain/mind of a woman, and that for that reason, he (“she” if true) was a woman.
      I don’t think he was saying feelings only, but having the brain/mind of a woman. And it’s not clear to me that all of those people found bizarre that part of the claim, rather than the part of having a brain/mind of a woman, or they didn’t understand the claims, especially if they understood that he was saying something like “I feel like a woman, so I’m a woman”, instead of something like “I have the brain/mind of a woman, so I’m a woman”.

  59. Jacques,
    Here’s the part about tactic and/or strategy and stuff:

    Maybe they shouldn’t be if we’re talking strictly about some rational or philosophical standard. I’m not sure. I think this is really (another) complicated hard philosophical question (which I won’t get into). Regardless, they _will_ be taken to have those sorts of consequences by regular people who are being fed aggressive propaganda, whose few sources of confidence and moral certainty are under attack, etc. The net effect will be to make all of this seem (even more) confusing and unsettled and, in the end, just hopeless. Most people don’t have the patience or ability or intelligence to sort through distinctions between semantics and metaphysics and all the rest. I can barely do it myself, on a good day, and I’m far outside the norm in lots of ways with respect to these kinds of discussions.

    While I would agree that many people will get angry over this sort of discussion about semantics, I do not agree with your general assessment of the consequences. As I see it, your best hope is to aim at rational debate with the very small percentage of people who are, in fact, willing to debate the matter in a civil manner, particularly philosophers willing to do that, even if only anonymously, and better if not.
    Moreover, the strategy I suggested earlier is a strategy I suggest even assuming that you are correct about the meaning of the words. I think it’s still better to argue first that if a belief in a “tabula rasa” is correct and there are no female and male minds, then all transgender claims are false. That is like two birds with a stone. And then, if the fact that females and males have different minds is accepted, asking for conclusive evidence that they have female minds and say that if there is no such evidence, it would not be rational on your part to believe that they have female minds, and thus it would not be rational on your part to believe that they’re women even if that sufficed (which you can leave for later), is also I think a more likely strategy to succeed.
    Of course, there is no hope you will persuade vocal activists, even if philosophers. But there are others I think you would have a shot. Maybe not a good shot, but much better in my assessment than the strategy being pursued here (which also has the problem that, well, they’re getting the beliefs and intentions of others wrong, in several cases).

    I’d care about this if we were in a situation over here where some kind of “civil debate” was possible, or where there was any indication that the powers that be would want that. The way things are, it appears they want to preclude it, stigmatize and ostracize people on my side (and probably criminalize the expression of our views, in the long run). Unless you disagree that that’s our situation, I don’t understand why you’d think this kind of intellectual hygiene was particularly important. Especially since you appear to agree that the actual trans ideology is at least poorly supported and probably not a good idea even for most of its supposed beneficiaries.

    I actually think you should aim at not to misrepresent your opponents’ views, even if you have reasons to be very angry with them. But strategically, I think that with the vast majority of people, civil debate is not going to happen. But it might happen with a minority of people who disagree with you and are leftists, but not so inclined to get angry whenever someone contradicts their ideology. Others might or might not get angry depending on what you say, but that gives you room for debate of some of the issues you disagree with, if not all of them.
    Again, I don’t think you have a good shot, but I think it’s better – much better – than the alternative.
    Moreover, if you aim at persuading people who are not committed to either side, the best thing you can to is to do your best to characterize the positions of your opponents correctly, and if they mischaracterize yours, then correctly explain why they mischaracterize yours. Again, it’s a very long shot, since most people not committed to either side will likely just shrug, but at least you have a slight chance of reaching some people.

    What am I conflating?
    Maybe a wrong choice of words on my part.

    Let me explain. You said “Every source of meaning and identity and purpose has been thoroughly subverted, deconstructed, abolished.”.
    I think some things that are abandoned were pretty bad, and some of the changes the right sees as bad are, in my view, good – sure, usually for the wrong reasons, but usually that’s also the case with many right-wing causes, as I see it (not trying to convince you of that, but to point out how it looks to me).

    You seem to see this as a massive collapse, with everything going wrong. I think there is the good and the bad. Some things are getting worse, but I think the situation is less bleak than you think.

    But I think it’s pretty clear that people in the modern west are suicidally nihilistic. We’re not reproducing, we lack the will to oppose even the most openly hostile and unassimilable immigration, we produce grotesquely nihilistic art and culture, etc. These are behaviors of people who believe nothing much, who are despairing or self-loathing or just very selfish and short-termist.

    I tend to disagree. My take on those matters is:

    1. I don’t think American art and culture is so bad. Movies are overall good enough. Fiction on TV is overall of better quality than in the past (or at least, the top end is much better). I’m not sure if you count some or all of them, but I don’t see this as a problem. Of course, there is also ugly art, or whatever you call it – paintings, statues, etc. I don’t think this is particularly problematic, though.

    2. I don’t think people on the left or in general are nihilistic. For example, people on the left get generally really outraged by much of what your side does. That is not nihilism. That is a moral reaction, in the psychological sense of “moral”. Several of the central moral beliefs on the left (and I think on the right, but let’s leave that aside) are false, but that’s not at all the same as nihilism. Most nihilists would not even bother attacking you. Your most vocal opponents are often motivated to do what they believe is the right thing. Surely, their false moral beliefs are a problem, but you shouldn’t misdiagnose the problem.
    People who aren’t involved in politics also don’t seem to be nihilists. Why would they be?

    3. They’re not suicidal, either, at least most of them. And they do not hate themselves, by the way. If they’re on the left, they probably hate you (i. e., those on your side), and due to moral beliefs (even if often false), just as people on your side generally hates them due to your moral beliefs. The fact that they argue against Western Imperialism or whatever shouldn’t be taken as self-loathing: they don’t have to be intuitively picking up “The West” as their side; rather, they’re talking about the evil right-wing murderers or whatever: so, in short, leftists generally hate rightists (and vice versa), but they do not hate themselves (well, usually; I’m talking in general, not in all cases).
    As for the rest of the population (not on the left or right, not involved in politics, etc.), I don’t think they hate themselves, either. Most people not involved in politics just try to get on with their lives – which is normal human behavior.

    4. Most leftists are not selfish by human standards. They’re often sincerely committed to their own side, their causes, etc., and they’re doing so for moral reasons, even if mistaken. They aren’t particularly short-termist, either, and are really scared of global warming – another reason they hate you, given the measures you proposed – and things. They actually think long-term – at least many of them, including their thinkers -, but they disagree with you strongly about what to do.
    As for people not involved in politics, I don’t see them as any more short-termist or selfish than what’s usual for humans.

    5. The immigration issue is a serious problem, but the problem is not so much that you lack the will to oppose, but that your opponents (doing what they believe is right) have the will to block your attempts to oppose, and they’re beating you at winning hearts and minds. Well, to some extent; there is some reaction, and then some misdirected reaction too.

    (In case you don’t know, there _are_ already progressives who are denying that there is such a thing as a _biological_ sex. I’ve been told by more than one humanities professor that the scientists all know this.)

    And people like Jerry Coyne are happy debunking them.

    But if you don’t agree that we’re in this dire situation then we’d have a whole other debate opening up, so never mind.

    I’m afraid I will have to leave this one earlier.
    That aside, personally, I think most people on both sides are missing a lot from their long-term picture, at least given how the debates and conflicts seem to happen: I think massive global changes will likely come before the end of this century due to scientific and technological progress and their applications.

  60. When I talk about nihilism and suicide I don’t mean that the average person in the west consciously thinks `Nothing matters` or consciously wants to die. Likewise, he`s not self-loathing in the straightforward sense that he consciously loathes himself as an individual. I am talking at a deeper level–hope that doesn`t sound patronizing. My understanding of modern western nihilism is sort of like what Nietzsche, Heidegger and Father Seraphim Rose (or William Butler Yeats) meant. I think suicidal nihilism can often take the form of angry moralizing and crusading (against global warming or `racism` or `transphobia`, for example). Since this would take us too far from the topic, I won`t try to explain in a serious way but I can give some examples to illustrate the gist. Consider your claim that Leftists (which in my view includes the vast majority of western populations, `conservatives` included) don`t really hate themselves, but only people like me. Well, that`s true of course, in a sense. However, in reality a British Leftist (for example) just _is_ defined by his race and ethnicity and sex and the history of his people and all kinds of other things. When he regards his more traditional co-ethnics or white people or men or Christians or Europeans as uniquely bad and shameful, inferior morally to immigrants or blacks or Muslims–which is what all mainstream Leftist discourse really implies, how it`s understood at an existential level–he is in reality negating himself, negating his own identity and worth, his family and ancestors and descendants. There just isn`t really any other deep identity or source of meaning and purpose open to him; if _he_ is going to have meaning and identity, it has to begin from an acceptance of what he really is. (I don`t mean to deny that he could also be more than a member of a racial group or tribe, but he is at least that, at least within the terms of this kind of thinking and conflict.) What he is really doing is saying to himself `We don`t exist` or `We shouldn`t exist` or `We have no right to be ourselves` or `Others have the right to harm me and my people, we deserve it` something like that. And this is a suicidal and self-loathing thought whether or not he`s aware of it. This kind of thinking and valuing is what orders his world, his relationships with others, his `moral` beliefs, etc.

    Of course, people trapped in this delusion can still have all kinds of beliefs and even strong motivations. (This could be what Rose calls the `nihilism of destruction`, for example.) Fanatical Bolsheviks and Nazis were nihilists in that sense, and PC liberals and progressives are also.

    Or think about the idea that `western imperialism` was bad. Well, I`m not sure what I think about it myself. On the whole I think it had many benefits for some colonized peoples, but I also think it was often immoral and harmful overall for everyone concerned in the long run. In defending `the west` I have no need to defend everything westerners ever did. I don`t even really care what the best overall judgment regarding this vast complicated historical process might be. On the other hand, the average Leftist (or just the average westerner today) thinks and acts as if _western_ imperialism were the only example of this thing in the history of the world–much like they seem to think that slavery was some unusual thing that only white people practiced. When they say `imperialism` they always mean things that white people or Europeans did. They may know that a zillion other empires existed, but they don’t care. The purpose of virtually all discourse on `imperialism` seems to be just to remind us that whites (or Euros or Christians) are uniquely bad and guilty and privileged, etc. Again, whatever their conscious attitudes, this pattern of thinking just is suicidal and self-loathing. You can`t think and feel and organize your society in ways that imply that your own people and culture are inferior and bad without committing on some level to your own extinction. I mean, we can already see that whites stand by impotently as their own people are raped and murdered for openly racial-cultural reasons, excusing it or even justifying it or, at least, looking for ways to pretend it`s not happening or it doesn`t mean what it obviously means. No other group on earth behaves this way. We`re deeply sick.

    Or consider the idea that most Leftists are not selfish or short-termist–they care about global warming, etc. Again I agree that they`re not overtly or consciously selfish. But I think the fact that they care about _this_ kind of issue, for _these_ kinds of reasons, reveals that what really motivates them is a wish to escape unchosen obligations, the past, the future. (And I think the wish is rooted in despair or something like that.) I mean, considering just the global warming thing. Suppose it`s real, and caused by human activity. There are probably some things that could be done to help, but none of the things proposed by progressives would have any real impact even in that case–and they refuse to press on the things that most likely would help, if their empirical beliefs were true. One new idea that`s being pushed in this context is how virtuous it is not to have kids–at least, if you`re a normal white person. You`ll be sparing them the horrors of a changing climate, reducing consumption and carbon footprints, etc. I just heard a glowing piece about this on NPR, featuring some pair of deluded white liberals with a dog who is their `baby`. Of course this makes no sense. A rational thinker who believed the rest of the theory would be eager to reduce birthrates in Africa, India, China, etc. But they never talk about that, and they would probably say it was `racist`. The real meaning is this: enjoy your own life now, don`t have kids, don`t take on the responsibility, don`t perpetuate your people–just have as much fun as you can before you`re too decrepit for sex and food and vacations… And all of that is the _moral_ and scientifically enlightened thing to do! Just one example, but I think it`s pretty clear that this is really about making short-term selfish preferences seem reasonable and good (and only a very despairing people would be willing to believe this nonsense)…

  61. Jacques,

    I’ll address your points later, but I’ve been thinking of an objection your side can use (I think).
    Jordan raised earlier a path-based objection made by Green, and then weakened it. While I don’t think the path objection as stated worked, I would concede that there’s something to it. I mentioned that as an empirical-based objection, it would be better. Now, here’s one like that:

    O1. Probably, a necessary requirement of having the sort of mind that adult female humans (as a characteristic of the kind) have is to have the memories of having female human sexual organs, going through puberty, experiencing menstruation, etc., plus having a mind with whatever properties normally result from having those experiences.

    In particular, probably, it’s impossible that an adult person has a characteristic female mind and brain and a male brain rest of the body, except in body-swap scenarios and the like.

    This objection does not concede anything about language, but also does not introduce culture-specific factors, does not object to something like Pinker’s language, does not object to something like Alice 2 being a woman in scenario 5 (it does not require that the memories be real), etc.; i. e., it remains silent on those scenarios, claims, etc., while at the same time objects to claims like Jenner’s.

    Does it succeed?
    I don’t know (but see below). It might. One reply I can think of is that it hasn’t been properly established, and more evidence would be needed. But a weaker alternative is:

    O1’. Based on the information we have, it’s not improbable that a necessary requirement for having the sort of mind that adult female humans have is to have the memories of having female human sexual organs, going through puberty, experiencing menstruation, etc., or at least having a mind with whatever properties normally result from having those experiences.
    So, it would not be rational to believe that there is an actual adult human being with male sexual organs but the sort of mind adult female humans have.

    I haven’t been able to find a way around that one, at this point, so tentatively, it seems to me it probably does succeed. It’s not, of course, all you want to establish – not even close. But sometimes, if you’re trying to convince philosophers not on your side (already convinced) nor committed to the other side, but the rest, going for a weaker claim may have its advantages.
    Of course, you can go for even weaker claims than O1, saying that it’s not improbable that any adult who develops normal male sexual organs and secondary sexual characteristics does not have most of the predispositions, information-processing, etc., properties of a female human mind.

  62. Angra,
    I can’t use this kind of argument, though, because I don’t believe the premises. I don’t think we know anything that makes it probably necessary for having a female mind that one has specific memories of the kind you’re describing. Maybe I need to emphasize how I understand the idea of the human female mind: if the information we have tells us anything much, I think it tells us that this is the kind of mind that human females have as a result of the evolutionary history of the species. Evolution doesn’t select for specific beliefs or memories (except maybe for ‘beliefs’ in the special sense that you mentioned way back, i.e., assumptions or expectations or dispositions regarding object classification and so on). So while I assume that normal women end up having specific kinds of memories as a result of having those evolved mental traits, the memories themselves wouldn’t be constitutive of the female mind. At least I don’t think it’s _improbable_ that having such memories isn’t necessary.

    And I don’t think we know anything that makes it improbable that some people have male physiologies and female or highly female-like minds. Especially if the female mind is characterized as I think our information suggests it should be. Again, we can break this point down. First there are traits of typical women that we already know about. Given the vast range of variation between individuals, it’s not particularly improbable (to say the least) that there are a _few_ men or male human beings whose minds are very much like that, or maybe exactly like that. All the traits in question–e.g., risk-aversion, sexual selectivity, conscientiousness–are distributed very differently across people of both sexes. This is true for any interesting and relevant mental trait, as far as I know. So it seems that it could easily happen that _some_ minority of men have just the right set of traits (or weighted set, or whatever) that we normally take to be typical of women. I think I know people like that, but anyway I deny that anyone knows something that makes this _so_ improbable that, for exmaple, Jenner’s claim about his own mind is probably false. Next point: the hypothetical “subtle” and largely unspecified differences that we agree might well exist. Well, since we don’t know what exactly they are, I don’t think we know anything much about the probability that some small minority of men have just the right set of traits in this respect. And so I also don’t think that we can reasonably gauge the probability that one or two or a few hundred thousand have just those traits _and_ the more familiar and well-established ones either. What would such a person be like? What would his (or ‘his’) behavior or brain be like? We don’t know what kind of mind we’re describing at this point, so we don’t know. And if many of the relevant traits are so subtle that they make no easily noticeable difference in ordinary life, it could be, for all I know, that some highly effeminate sexually conservative gay men (for example) actually do have just the kind of mind that you think would make someone a woman. We have no idea.

    The only reason I can imagine for believing these premises would be some vague appeal to evolution or genes or something like that: assuming that the relevant mental traits are ultimately explained by evolution, and evolution has operated differently on people with male and female physiologies, and as a result of physiology, it’s probable that an arbitrary person with male physiology (chromosomes, evolutionary past, etc.) ends up with a male mind rather than a female one (or a ‘mixed’ mind but not a female one). I just don’t think this is convincing. There are so many complicated things that influence a person’s psychology–prenatal hormones, idiosyncratic genetic stuff, socio-cultural-economic stuff, childhood trauma, and probably a zillion other things we don’t even know about. Given all that, it’s just not _so_ improbable that there are very rare actual men with almost any kind of psychology we can realistically imagine. In addition, I’m swayed by the (seeming) fact that there are lots of highly effeminate men and manly women–people whose psychologies seem to correspond closely to the traits we already know to be typical of the other sex. If some men can be that similar to typical women in all those ways, why can’t some even smaller subset be just like a typical women in any way that might be relevant?

    So, again, I think Jenner’s description of his mind could be true (though in his case I don’t believe it). What I reject is the conclusion that, therefore, he’s really a woman rather than an unusual kind of man.

  63. To clarify: there are probably lots of subtle and sub-conscious features of female minds that are directly produced by their female physiology, or which could almost certainly never hold for people with a male physiology. For example, it could be that a person with a vagina or a uterus is sub-consciously oriented to some kind of unique kinesthetic responses. Or–who knows–maybe she has very slightly quicker reaction times in response to certain facial expressions or sounds, without being aware of this. But if the female mind is taken to include sub-conscious dispositions or abilities dependent on physiology, there’s no way that this is what people like Jenner are reporting or think they’re reporting when they say they have the minds of women or females. And in that case, your thought experiments would be dubious by your own standards. (Once Alice’s brain is hooked up to an entirely different functioning male , rest-of-body, which was hooked up for years to a male brain, it’s at best hard to know whether her brain will retain these kinds of traits, or retain them for more than a few weeks, etc. Maybe at most she’d then have a ‘mixed’ mind in the present sense, or just an unusual male one, or one that was neither male nor female…) So I’m assuming that when we think of the ‘subtle’ differences we’re still talking about things that the person can fairly reliably introspect.

  64. Jacques,

    Consider your claim that Leftists (which in my view includes the vast majority of western populations, `conservatives` included) don`t really hate themselves, but only people like me. Well, that`s true of course, in a sense.

    But if you include people generally regarded as conservative, you seem to be using the words in an unusual manner. At any rate, if you include the vast majority of Western populations, I no longer believe they hate you (i. e., your side). Most of them do not care that much about politics, and just try to get on with their lives, as far as I can tell.

    When he regards his more traditional co-ethnics or white people or men or Christians or Europeans as uniquely bad and shameful, inferior morally to immigrants or blacks or Muslims–which is what all mainstream Leftist discourse really implies, how it`s understood at an existential level–he is in reality negating himself, negating his own identity and worth, his family and ancestors and descendants.

    He’s negating them, but that does not require that he has any sort of animosity towards himself, or towards his friends, girlfriend (or boyfriend), etc. You may say that he naturally belongs in the category he hates, or something like that. But it remains the case there is no self-loathing.

    There just isn`t really any other deep identity or source of meaning and purpose open to him; if _he_ is going to have meaning and identity, it has to begin from an acceptance of what he really is.

    I don’t see why. He may well have a job he likes, a wife or girlfriend (most are straight), friends, etc. Why would that not count as “meaning and identity”?

    What he is really doing is saying to himself `We don`t exist` or `We shouldn`t exist` or `We have no right to be ourselves` or `Others have the right to harm me and my people, we deserve it` something like that. And this is a suicidal and self-loathing thought whether or not he`s aware of it. This kind of thinking and valuing is what orders his world, his relationships with others, his `moral` beliefs, etc.

    If you’re talking about most of the population, I don’t see the evidence of this at all.

    On the other hand, the average Leftist (or just the average westerner today) thinks and acts as if _western_ imperialism were the only example of this thing in the history of the world–much like they seem to think that slavery was some unusual thing that only white people practiced. When they say `imperialism` they always mean things that white people or Europeans did. They may know that a zillion other empires existed, but they don’t care. The purpose of virtually all discourse on `imperialism` seems to be just to remind us that whites (or Euros or Christians) are uniquely bad and guilty and privileged, etc. Again, whatever their conscious attitudes, this pattern of thinking just is suicidal and self-loathing. You can`t think and feel and organize your society in ways that imply that your own people and culture are inferior and bad without committing on some level to your own extinction. I mean, we can already see that whites stand by impotently as their own people are raped and murdered for openly racial-cultural reasons, excusing it or even justifying it or, at least, looking for ways to pretend it`s not happening or it doesn`t mean what it obviously means. No other group on earth behaves this way. We`re deeply sick.

    First, I don’t see any good evidence that the vast majority of people think like that. I think you may be taking a loud minority to be representative of the majority. The majority sure doesn’t think like you, but I don’t think they’re like you describe them, either.
    Second, I think the problem with violent immigrants who do not want to assimilate is serious, but the worse it gets, the more reaction you can expect. Also, more and more cameras (an unstoppable trend) will make violent crime increasingly more visible – quite literally -, and if it’s committed by violent immigrants, that also will accelerate a reaction, if not in blocking immigration at firs, in law enforcement.
    Third, you seem to think too much in terms of racial terms. But there is no need to do so. The problem with the immigrants that won’t assimilate is not their race, but their culture. While there are some cluster-style differences in human populations, this is not key.

    I mean, considering just the global warming thing. Suppose it`s real, and caused by human activity.

    I don’t need to suppose that, but okay.

    There are probably some things that could be done to help, but none of the things proposed by progressives would have any real impact even in that case–and they refuse to press on the things that most likely would help, if their empirical beliefs were true.

    Sure, many things can be done. For example, China is building plenty of new nuclear reactors and it’s going to make more (unfortunately, they’re still making coal power stations, but they’re going to reduce that and eventually get rid of them or find a way to make them cleaner). And they’re aggressively mandating electrification of cars, which will get much better as batteries improve. Maybe their government is more concerned about smog making their people choke in their cities than global warming, but basically the same methods will help with both.

    One new idea that`s being pushed in this context is how virtuous it is not to have kids–at least, if you`re a normal white person. You`ll be sparing them the horrors of a changing climate, reducing consumption and carbon footprints, etc. I just heard a glowing piece about this on NPR, featuring some pair of deluded white liberals with a dog who is their `baby`. Of course this makes no sense. A rational thinker who believed the rest of the theory would be eager to reduce birthrates in Africa, India, China, etc. But they never talk about that, and they would probably say it was `racist`. The real meaning is this: enjoy your own life now, don`t have kids, don`t take on the responsibility, don`t perpetuate your people–just have as much fun as you can before you`re too decrepit for sex and food and vacations… And all of that is the _moral_ and scientifically enlightened thing to do! Just one example, but I think it`s pretty clear that this is really about making short-term selfish preferences seem reasonable and good (and only a very despairing people would be willing to believe this nonsense)…

    I’m afraid we disagree about this. I don’t believe there is an obligation to have children, or that it’s praiseworthy. In fact, I think not to have kids would contribute a lot. What can an individual do to contribute more, short of inventing better batteries or something like that?
    Also, China already has very low fertility rates (it has the lowest fertility rate in the world, I think), and in fact, it has for decades, enforced by the state (though even before the policy, fertility rates were falling already). It’s still state-enforced, even if more births are allowed, but it turns out that the present-day population seems not very inclined to having more kids, even when they are allowed to.

    However, low fertility rates in China and the West aren’t going to stop overpopulation. Perhaps, what could stop it would be that those other parts of the world become culturally more like the West or China in those regards. But you seem to think that (if I’m reading this right) having children is a responsibility towards one’s tribe, or something along those lines. Historically, this has been a very, very common belief. If it turns out that this belief remains common like that in a significant portion of the planet, overpopulation will be a serious problem (even assuming global warming is fake). Then again, advances in AI, neural interfaces, genetic engineering, etc., can make things so different that it’s extremely difficult to predict what will happen long term.

  65. Jacques,

    Maybe I need to emphasize how I understand the idea of the human female mind: if the information we have tells us anything much, I think it tells us that this is the kind of mind that human females have as a result of the evolutionary history of the species. Evolution doesn’t select for specific beliefs or memories (except maybe for ‘beliefs’ in the special sense that you mentioned way back, i.e., assumptions or expectations or dispositions regarding object classification and so on). So while I assume that normal women end up having specific kinds of memories as a result of having those evolved mental traits, the memories themselves wouldn’t be constitutive of the female mind. At least I don’t think it’s _improbable_ that having such memories isn’t necessary.

    But evolution does select for traits that require development in certain conditions. The weaker claim I suggested says “or at least having a mind with whatever properties normally result from having those experiences.”
    It may well be that some features of the female human mind develop in response to having some experiences.
    Moreover, even if evolution does not select for specific beliefs, it seems to me that it’s a characteristic of an adult human mind (male or female) to have many memories, for example. If something does not have any memories at all, it surely does not have a characteristic human mind, though you could say it has perhaps still a very abnormal one. In a sense, you could say that having many memories is not part of it because a human being still has a human mind if it has complete amnesia, but on the other hand, it’s characteristic in the sense that, say, if a biologist (from another planet, or whatever) were to describe humans, it surely would be proper to say that humans have memories of such-and-such sort.

    And I don’t think we know anything that makes it improbable that some people have male physiologies and female or highly female-like minds. Especially if the female mind is characterized as I think our information suggests it should be. Again, we can break this point down. First there are traits of typical women that we already know about. Given the vast range of variation between individuals, it’s not particularly improbable (to say the least) that there are a _few_ men or male human beings whose minds are very much like that, or maybe exactly like that.

    Not so much if the development of a characteristic female adult human mind requires certain levels female hormones at some stages of life, including puberty. Moreover, if the male adult human mind develops to a considerable extend in response to male hormones both in the fetal state and in puberty (again, pretty likely), that makes it more likely than an adult with male sexual organs will not have a female mind.

    I think I know people like that, but anyway I deny that anyone knows something that makes this _so_ improbable that, for example, Jenner’s claim about his own mind is probably false.

    I see. There is the weaker claim that Jenner’s claim hasn’t been established, and so one should not believe it.

    So, again, I think Jenner’s description of his mind could be true (though in his case I don’t believe it). What I reject is the conclusion that, therefore, he’s really a woman rather than an unusual kind of man.

    Right, but I think that that’s just a semantic issue about the meaning of “woman” (yes, most people do not treat it like that).

  66. To clarify: there are probably lots of subtle and sub-conscious features of female minds that are directly produced by their female physiology, or which could almost certainly never hold for people with a male physiology. For example, it could be that a person with a vagina or a uterus is sub-consciously oriented to some kind of unique kinesthetic responses. Or–who knows–maybe she has very slightly quicker reaction times in response to certain facial expressions or sounds, without being aware of this. But if the female mind is taken to include sub-conscious dispositions or abilities dependent on physiology, there’s no way that this is what people like Jenner are reporting or think they’re reporting when they say they have the minds of women or females. And in that case, your thought experiments would be dubious by your own standards.

    My experiment does not require that the mind remains female for a long time, but that aside, the female mind may be taken to be whatever it actually is. People like Jenner may report having a female mind on the basis of X evidence, and it turns out that the things they observed are not enough, and that he’s actually not realizing that there are also likely all of those specific features, and moreover, that males also have lots of specific male features, etc.
    One can probably strengthen this if one includes probable features characteristic of the mind that result from female hormones in puberty, and also from male hormones in puberty. Those things are likely to result in lots of differences, and so given that Jenner didn’t have those female hormones but did have those male hormones, his self-report appears nowhere near to be good enough evidence of a female mind.

    • Addition:

      Perhaps, the following will clarify what I’m saying about the importance of traits we do not yet know, like the ones you mention. For example, having some sexual organs + being exposed to some hormones in puberty, etc., results in a number of different ways of feeling, perceiving, etc., which makes up part of a female and male sort of mind. The question of how significant those parts are is partially empirical: it depends on how extensive those differences actually turn out to be. Are those more or less important than, say, predisposition towards aggressive behavior?
      I’m inclined to say they are very important, but a weaker claim is not that we do not know yet. Jenner’s claim probably doesn’t factor in that there may well be plenty of differences like that.

  67. “I don’t see any good evidence that the vast majority of people think like that. I think you may be taking a loud minority to be representative of the majority. The majority sure doesn’t think like you, but I don’t think they’re like you describe them, either.”

    The majority don’t think much about anything. They don’t _consciously_ think these things. But they still do live in societies where these poisonous messages are woven into the fabric of everyday life–from kindergarten to grad school, in ads and movies and music, etc. Sure, most people are ignoring politics and just “living their lives”. But that was also true in the USSR or in Nazi Germany. The objective conditions of their lives, and the patterns of their own choices and behaviors, reflect a specific world-view whether they know it or not. They might never think about immigration, for example, but they act as if it were normal and acceptable for people with weird names to suddenly show up and start stabbing people or blowing themselves up with nail bombs. They sense on some level, maybe, that this is a problem but they generally aren’t able to conceptualize the issue in generality or in a principled way. They’ve been conditioned with stock responses, excuses, rationalizations. (“I knew a nice Muslim once” or “They’re not all like that” or…) These come from other people, who do think the way I describe.

    Also, the “loud minority” is not such a small minority. I’ve lived my whole life in a white liberal Euro society. I’ve experienced a lot of different parts and aspects of it. And I’ve found that _lots_ of people across all strata (including “conservatives”) will casually and unthinkingly say things that indicate just the kind of thinking I’m describing. One obvious example: pretty much everyone talks about the Holocaust as this uniquely horrible thing that stains Germany and Europe and whites generally. You can’t propose limiting immigration of any kind without very quickly getting mindless rejoinders like “That’s the kind of thing Hitler said”. And almost no one has any awareness of the Soviet genocides. I mean, I’ve talked with professors who know nothing about these–these giant and very recent historical events in their own backyard. Ordinary people know with total certainty that slavery in the US was this terrible terrible evil, and even whites whose ancestors had nothing to do with it act guilty and defer to stupid and obnoxious opinions of blacks. This is just normal behavior here. But they know nothing about white slavery. They generally don’t even know that it ever happened, except in some very hazy sense. Their attitudes are pretty much the ones that the most extreme anti-white Leftists would want people to have, regardless of whether they consciously think through the implications. And it’s not surprising, of course. Their whole acculturation was in the hands of anti-white Leftists. But this doesn’t imply that they consciously think “I hate my race” or “We’re inferior and bad”…

    “He’s negating them, but that does not require that he has any sort of animosity towards himself, or towards his friends, girlfriend (or boyfriend), etc. You may say that he naturally belongs in the category he hates, or something like that. But it remains the case there is no self-loathing.”

    You’re speaking at the most obvious, surface level of psychology and culture. I’m saying that the west is spiritually sick. I’m not talking about that level. People can (do) consciously think and feel things very different from the deeper valuations and feelings and beliefs that unconsciously or semi-consciously guide them. It does matter which groups people naturally belong to, even if they try to convince themselves they’re free individuals who get to choose their identities or the meanings of their lives. Anyway this is obviously a very big topic and we seem to have views so different it’d be very hard to get anywhere. I’ll just say that I don’t think it’s possible for a typical person to have the kind of meaning and identity he naturally wants just by having “a job he likes, a wife or girlfriend (most are straight), friends, etc.” Meaning requires a larger story about the world, identity has to connect the individual with a meaningful story, deep and wide community–which ultimately means ancestors and descendants and lots of relationships over and above the nuclear family or just a nice girl and a pet. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that once sources of meaning and identity were reduced to things like “a job I like” and “a healthy relationship” we very quickly saw sub-replacement fertility (and other striking things).

    “you seem to think too much in terms of racial terms. But there is no need to do so. The problem with the immigrants that won’t assimilate is not their race, but their culture. While there are some cluster-style differences in human populations, this is not key.”

    This is very simple and reductive. Cultural differences are strongly correlated with racial differences. A distinctive racial group with a distinctive culture and large numbers is not going to change its culture easily or quickly. In practical terms, cultural problems and conflicts are also racial ones–the cultural differences are often partly based in racial ones, or they aren’t but the conflicts between cultural groups are also racial conflicts, which makes them even harder to resolve, etc. And why are the purely racial differences “not key”? The natural IQ differences between sub-Saharan blacks and European whites are almost certainly big enough that almost no blacks will occupy high status positions (outside sports and entertainment) in any white Euro society without massive government interference and racial discrimination against whites. That alone is going to be a major problem for such a society. It’s not realistic to expect blacks to just accept that outcome because it’s meritocratic or whatever.

    In addition, I’m certainly no more racially conscious than average members of most non-white or non-European groups (or even some European ones). But I live in a multi-racial society surrounded by these racially conscious others–who have strong racial identity, solidarity, bias, nepotism, etc. A group with no or little racial consciousness in that situation is just going to get rolled (which is what happens to non-Jewish whites in the west now). So if we don’t want to end up a powerless minority at the mercy of racially conscious others who don’t much like us, we just need to be racially conscious ourselves. I’d rather not be that way, but I also don’t want my children and grandchildren to be in the position of Afrikaaners or Palestinians or whatever. This is why it really is “key” after all, or one key thing.

    “I don’t believe there is an obligation to have children, or that it’s praiseworthy. In fact, I think not to have kids would contribute a lot. What can an individual do to contribute more, short of inventing better batteries or something like that?”

    I never said it was an obligation, or even praiseworthy. Rather, I think that for almost everyone it’s fulfilling and meaningful in a long-term holistic way that nothing else can be. What more could an individual “contribute”? Well, I guess he could commit suicide, couldn’t he? And before doing that, work to convince all his white friends and relatives to kill themselves or, at least, abort their babies. Or, at least, he could give up all his nice stuff–the TV, the iPad, the Indian dinners and vacations in Cuba, or whatever. Why not advocate that? And the real reason, of course, is that the people this message is targeting don’t want to make any sacrifices. They want a moralistic excuse for living out the rest of their lives with all the comforts and conveniences of a society created by people who did reproduce, did sacrifice, did believe in unchosen obligations to ancestors and descendants, etc. The whole thing very conveniently provides an excuse to live a selfish short-term kind of life. Of course, these people do in fact make huge sacrifices. But they’re so deracinated and out of touch with basic human realities that they don’t know it.

    • Jacques,

      Okay, I don’t want to get into another long debate, so I’ll just say I tend to disagree with your take on most of that, but assuming that you’re right, I still think your (i. e., your side’s) best strategy would be to try to engage in civil debate with those who disagree with you but are intelligent enough and willing to do so (and they have enough time!). That might not be a likely strategy to succeed (though things are not as dire as you think in my view, but that aside), but it seems more likely to me than not trying.

    • Jacques,

      Just to clarify a couple of points, given that the debate continues, anyway.
      1. I choose the words poorly when I asked what else can they do; it was meant as a rhetorical question, but the point is that I was saying it was a significant contribution for a single individual to make, which you were disparaging. You say you didn’t say it was obligatory or praiseworthy to have children, but even if you explicitly did not say it, the context in which you said it (and even now “They want a moralistic excuse for living out the rest of their lives with all the comforts and conveniences of a society created by people who did reproduce, did sacrifice, did believe in unchosen obligations to ancestors and descendants, etc. The whole thing very conveniently provides an excuse to live a selfish short-term kind of life.”) seems to suggest an obligation or at least a moral advantage in reproducing.

      2. I didn’t say that you were more racially conscious than average members of most non-white or non-European groups (or even some European ones). In fact, I don’t believe you are. That’s not relevant to my point.

      3. I do think you make good points about many people seeing the bad in Western history but not the good and not the bad in the history of many other cultures. But the other points you make, I generally disagree – and that’s why for the most part (not all) I disagree with your take on these matters.

  68. “having some sexual organs + being exposed to some hormones in puberty, etc., results in a number of different ways of feeling, perceiving, etc., which makes up part of a female and male sort of mind.”

    That’s true, presumably. It follows that if someone does have that kind of physiology she probably has a female mind in those respects, whatever they are. But what is the probability that the same or similar ways of feeling, perceiving, etc. are sometimes–maybe only very very rarely–produced by something else? Like, for example, just the right early childhood traumas or unusual socialization, or some neurochemical imbalance, or some unusual sexual fetish (‘autogynephilia’) which ends up rewiring the brain, or some combination of all those things, or else some other cause that we don’t know much about at present? I don’t think anyone knows enough about people to reasonably claim that this is very improbable–so improbable that we can conclude Jenner is probably wrong about having a female kind of mind in those largely unspecified respects. What do you think we know that enables us to gauge that probability?

    “The question of how significant those parts are is partially empirical: it depends on how extensive those differences actually turn out to be. Are those more or less important than, say, predisposition towards aggressive behavior?”

    I guess “significance” or “importance” here means importance in relation to this kind of mind: Do you need to have some or most or all of these kinds of traits in order to have a female mind? Or would having some or most or all of them be enough for your mind to be female? So you think these are the kinds of things we might eventually find out empirically. (Is that right?) But this seems strange to me, if you think the “significance” is relevant to this disagreement. You might be saying that if these traits turn out to be very important–for example, because it’s impossible to have any of the more obvious female mental traits without these other ones–then these traits are part of the nature of the female mind. Okay, but we could still be identifying many instances without knowing its nature, or knowing everything about its nature; and we could still reasonably grant that some men have female minds without knowing whether they have any of these traits. (Because it seems that they do, given our knowledge of the traits that are associated with female minds, and given that we have no reason to think that they don’t have thes others, or that having others is necessary or even important for having a female mind). You might be saying that these traits are “important” in the sense that we’d need to tell whether they’re present in order merely to reasonably assign female minds to people. But again I just don’t think we do need to tell, if common usage or practice or intuition are any evidence. People always have judged that some men are effeminate, and they clearly weren’t doing that on the basis of physiology or subtle unknown differences between male and female minds. They relied on their knowledge of big obvious differences such as assertiveness and agreeableness and sexual selectivity, etc.

    Maybe you think these judgments weren’t really about female minds but rather female* minds. But that’s implausible for many reasons, e.g., the best scientific evidence suggests that female and female* psychology are highly similar, and so (most likely) the natural kind picked out by those traditional and mundane judgments is the same as the one that science picks out as female psychology. Or maybe you think those judgments were about female minds, but just inadequately supported. But unless we already know what these subtle hypothetical traits are, and that they are very “significant”, this seems (at best) an unsupported claim.

    • I guess “significance” or “importance” here means importance in relation to this kind of mind: Do you need to have some or most or all of these kinds of traits in order to have a female mind? Or would having some or most or all of them be enough for your mind to be female? So you think these are the kinds of things we might eventually find out empirically. (Is that right?)

      Let me clarify. Let’s consider two different hypothetical empirical scenarios:
      FM3: The actual differences between male and female minds turn out to be what some of the stereotypes say, like males being more prone to violence, females being more selective when it comes to sex, females being more person-oriented, etc., and 3 subtle differences that we find with psychological research, and are otherwise difficult to spot.
      FM100: The actual differences between male and female minds turn out to be what some of the stereotypes say, like males being more prone to violence, females being more selective when it comes to sex, females being more person-oriented, etc., and 100 subtle differences that we find with psychological research, and are otherwise difficult to spot.
      In FM3, it’s more likely that 3 subtle differences wouldn’t be so important, and one would be inclined to say that a person with the stereotype-based sort of female mind has mostly a female mind, even if it’s male-like in those 3 subtle issues and so strictly speaking a mixed sort of mind (assuming the subtle differences don’t combine to make up a clearly distinct phenomenology, or something like that, hence the “probably”). But in FM100, if a person has a female-like mind in the stereotype-based differences, but male-like in over 80 of those subtle issues, it would probably not be a female-like sort of mind.
      (we need also more details about how much impact on perception those differences have, etc., but assuming one’s info is what FM3 or FM100 say).

      People always have judged that some men are effeminate, and they clearly weren’t doing that on the basis of physiology or subtle unknown differences between male and female minds. They relied on their knowledge of big obvious differences such as assertiveness and agreeableness and sexual selectivity, etc.

      Yes, and if they believed that those people really had female-like sort of minds, that counts in favor of the claim that at least their usage of the terms (you also need your claim that usage remains the same across time and space, at least in this regard) that a female mind would not suffice.
      But that aside, assuming they did believe that those people had female-like sort of minds, that does not imply they were rational in believing that, or even if they were rational, that would have been the rational think to believe given the science of their time or social group (some social groups today would be among those). But what if they were informed that there are plenty of more subtle differences, that some are regularly caused by hormones, etc., that males and females have different hormones that affect the brain specifically, etc.? Would they still rationally conclude that those people have female-like sorts of minds, or at least withhold judgment?
      For example, when they made those judgments, they surely did not have in mind that a scenario like FM100 may well obtain. Even today, they do not do that. If they were to factor in those possibilities.

  69. “given that we have no reason to think that they don’t have thes others, or that having others is necessary or even important for having a female mind”

    Just to be super cautious: this should read “given that we have no _ particularly strong_ reason to think that they _very probably_ don’t… or that having others is _probably_ necessary…” And that’s enough (if true) to make it reasonable for us to think that some men do have female minds, given what we do know, or at least that someone we’d all call a ‘man’ could have one. (In that case having such a mind isn’t sufficient for being a woman. Though maybe now you’d add that some man could also be a woman at the same time? Okay, but I’m saying this could be a man that no one would intuitively judge to (also) be a woman.)

  70. “But what they say later does not seem to suggest that it would be contradictory for someone to be a boy in a girl’s body.”

    I think it does suggest that, at least. They generally report being very confused about themselves, prior to finding out, and then they report feeling that finally it all makes sense, after finding out–that’s what I remember about these stories anyway. If that’s right, it would be natural to explain this by supposing that they themselves sensed some kind of incoherence in the idea ‘boy in a girl’s body’ (if ‘boy’ is supposed to apply just because of purely mental traits). To be sure, this could also be explained by supposing that they were merely troubled by not knowing _how_ this strange but coherent scenario came about. Maybe some were confused in the first way and others in the second, or all were confused in both ways to some degree. Probably their kid-confusion doesn’t determinately fall into either interpretation. Who really knows? For these reasons and others I think we can just set aside the evidence of what these kids say before knowing the truth about themselves. There’s just way too much that’s unclear, debatable, indeterminate… All things considered it gives zero support for the coherence claim.

    • Being confused about themselves is what you could expect if they looks to them that they have a boy’s mind despite having a girl’s body, even if there is no contradiction in saying that they have a boy’s mind in a girl’s body, because they’re been told that they’re girls, they are expected to behave as girls, and because it would be – and they realize it – extremely abnormal, odd, etc., that someone would have a boy’s mind and a girl’s body.

      In the case of those who choose to say they’re a boy in the body of a girl, the choice of words is evidence that they don’t find it incoherent. The fact that many adults seem to understand that without a problem is also evidence of that, and the fact that adults use that expression as well (e. g., Pinker’s writing something like that, and many others reading it and not objecting on coherence grounds) also provides evidence.

  71. By the way, I doubt that incoherence = logical impossibility or contradictoriness. “7 is blue” seems incoherent. The concepts don’t integrate or hold together. But it’s not clear that it’s logically impossible for 7 to be blue. (Maybe because the concepts would need to integrate somehow in order for there to even be some relevant scenario or world where 7 is blue that we could find to be anti-logical.) “That’s red and green all over” seems incoherent but I don’t think we can “derive a contradiction” from it. (For example, the commonly grasped meaning of “red” doesn’t seem to allow us to derive _logically_ “not-green”.)

    • Jacques,

      I didn’t say that incoherent=contradictory; I was thinking (roughly) that incoherent=(contradictory or meaningless), and also, I’m not talking contradictions fixing only the connectives; e. g., “Bob is married, and Bob is a bachelor” is contradictory in the sense I’m considering. I’m not sure “7 is blue” is incoherent, assuming it’s not contradictory.

      But regardless, at the very least, when people talk about something and they seem to understand the claims and not protest that it’s incoherent, that seems clearly evidence that it’s coherent.

  72. “Were you not saying that the meaning of “male” and “female” held across time, and moreover, that they are/were equivalents in other languages too?
    But if “female” and “male” are defined ostensively in a society where there are no microscopes, chances are the definitions will not be committed to the hypothesis that the female makes something that is fertilized by the male, or anything like that.
    In fact, historically, there were widely varied opinions and controversies, and the belief that females made something that was the fertilized to make a new organism was at least contradicted implicitly by other beliefs (e. g., take a look at different beliefs in antiquity).”

    Maybe this is a problem for me. I’m not sure what to think. One option is to say that what was common was a natural kind concept, ‘same-sexual-kind-as-F’ which we eventually learned was a kind that in humans and many related species normally has eggs which can get fertilized, and then, over time, as our empirical knowledge of the referent became very certain and very widely accepted (at least in many societies) these empirical facts entered into the meaning. So then I’m denying the analytic-synthetic distinction. I think this is plausible for ‘water’. There is (I think) a dimension of the meaning of ‘water’ that’s the same from the middle ages to 2017, but given how science-y our culture has become–for example, it’s intuitive for most people now that chemistry specifies the nature of water–we have a new extra dimension such that ‘water’ also means something like ‘mostly H2O’. So I should say then that there was a basic meaning that was constant, involving certain necessary conditions, and other parts that are new (and maybe others that have been dropped). This would be good enough for my reasoning and I think it’s fairly plausible as speculative history. However, to be clear, I don’t want to say that some specific understanding of how fertilization works is part of the meaning of ‘female’. Instead I’d think the relevant part has to do with role or capacity, understood more broadly or vaguely, and that in the weird case you’re imagining the new knowledge about fertilization would be a reason for thinking that ‘females’ don’t really have the right kind or role or capacity.

    But maybe I should concede that in colloquial language there’s no incoherence. And maybe I should just say that ‘Jenner is a woman in virtue of purely psychological traits’ is either necessarily false or else incoherent in a sense other than contradictoriness. That would be good enough for my purposes.

    It does seem to me like there’s something non-empirically weird in the idea that we discover ‘females’ are the ones who play every single (biological, physiological) reproductive role that we always thought was male. It doesn’t seem like I’m just imagining a very unlikely empirical discovery.

    Incidentally, the discussion at this point strongly counts against your repeated charge that I’m not being fair to the other side or understanding them–or, you’ve said at least once, _trying_ to understand. It’s taken us ten million words to figure out what exactly it might mean for his claim to be coherent, whether it really would be under this or that semantic theory, etc. And we’re still not done! Even if actually Jenner’s claims are perfectly coherent, the fact that we’re having this kind of debate shows at least that someone can reasonably believe them to be incoherent (in some sense). Quite possibly I don’t understand _your_ views about sex and gender, since they seem to depend on all kinds of considerations that are confusing and difficult to evaluate _even for me_ … And I’m pretty smart and pretty well versed in many of the topics you’re introducing… To suggest that I don’t understand or _try_ to understand what the blue-haired progressive masses believe is just absurd.

    There is no way that any typical trans proponent–say, the government drones who write up these bizarre policies on birth certificates–could defend these claims at anything like this level of detail and rigor. What they mean just isn’t anywhere in the ballpark (unless what people mean has nothing to do with how they’d defend their claims). Their position is a lot closer to something like “I just know I’m a woman because I know how I feel”. I say this partly because I have tried “civil debate” (for years, with many different interlocutors including grad students and professors specializing in this stuff). Overwhelmingly, they tend to agree that women have to be female, that we mean (at least) something like ‘female human being’ when we call someone a ‘woman’. Or else they quickly become confused. And so, as a first stab at an objection to what they believe or mean, saying something like “That’s just incoherent” or “But ‘woman’ means (at least) ‘female’ and your feelings don’t make you female” is a _fair_ and _reasonable_ thing to say.

    Thus I still claim you’re being super-charitable to the trans people and super-uncharitable to people on my side. Their claims about ‘woman’ are coherent if there’s some conceivable battery of sophisticated semantic and metaphysical and historical arguments that would show them to be coherent, even if most of them wouldn’t understand any of these arguments and had nothing very clear or definite in mind; our claims about incoherence are false and uncharitable, even when it’s the actual trans proponents we’re addressing, provided merely that we don’t have a fully worked out philosophical reply to every thought experiment or argument from rigid-designator semantics, etc. In this respect you yourself seem to be uninterested in “civil debate” although your way of subverting norms of charitable open-minded discussion is much more subtle (and seemingly “civil”) than the people who just want to scream and break things. A truly fair-minded opponent would grant by now that I’ve at least characterized a range of actual trans claims accurately enough, and that I do have good (if not decisive) reasons for thinking that some of these are incoherent. It’s obviously not just some ‘bias’ or straw man or some wish to vilify the trans people.

    Maybe you’re not aware that you’re doing this. You seem to think that you’re some kind of political moderate or outsider standing above the fray. In fact you hold standard PC liberal and leftist views on pretty much everything that’s come up–gay marriage, climate change, Christianity, natality, pop culture, etc. The only quasi-exceptions are the trans issue, where you’re very slightly to the right of the mainstream when pressed, and immigration, where you’re a bit more like an old-fashioned race-blind but not anti-white liberal. It could happen that you ended up with all these views for idiosyncratic reasons, having judged on a purely ‘case by case basis’, and not because you begin from a basically leftist world-view or value system, but that seems unlikely. You should wonder whether you yourself have some biases that lead you to hold right-wingers to far higher epistemic standards. You mentioned that you were raised Catholic. Maybe the experience of coming to feel free of the religion has left you inclined to be extra-defensive or extra-hostile toward any world-view that seems like it might lend support to Catholicism or might be coming from Catholicism. I mention this only because you seemed earlier to be interested in my psychology and biography.

    However I now think I was way too quick to think you were trolling or trying to muddy the waters. I shouldn’t have assumed that. Sorry! I have no idea what your intentions are but it seems like you’ve given considerable thought to all this, so (even if maybe you’re just messing with me) I appreciate the discussion. It’s been very interesting.

  73. Oh, last thing–maybe part of the meaning of ‘water’ is “same kind as the actual stuff that …” and part of the meaning of ‘woman’ is “same (biological sex) kind as the actual organisms that…” In that case the claim that XYZ is water or that Jenner is a woman could turn out to be logically impossible.

    • In that case, “XYZ is water even though the actual stuff is H2O” would be logically impossible (and philosophers who say otherwise would either be contradicting themselves, or would have picked intuitively the meaning of the word “water” incorrectly), but on the other hand, something like “The actual stuff is XYZ” would still be logically possible.
      Anyway, I think that’s not the case: for example, the term “water” seems to have “plan B” conditions so to speak. For example, I think if it had turned out that there is no commonality in the actual stuff other than function (e. g., water is H2O in some places but XYZ in others, on Earth), then water would still exist.
      But yes, if the meaning of ‘woman’ is “same (biological sex) kind as the actual organisms that…”, if I understand what you mean here by “biological sex” correctly, then that would be inconsistent, and those who think it’s consistent are either being incoherent, or got the wrong meaning of “woman”.

  74. Jacques,

    Incidentally, the discussion at this point strongly counts against your repeated charge that I’m not being fair to the other side or understanding them–or, you’ve said at least once, _trying_ to understand. It’s taken us ten million words to figure out what exactly it might mean for his claim to be coherent, whether it really would be under this or that semantic theory, etc. And we’re still not done! Even if actually Jenner’s claims are perfectly coherent, the fact that we’re having this kind of debate shows at least that someone can reasonably believe them to be incoherent (in some sense). Quite possibly I don’t understand _your_ views about sex and gender, since they seem to depend on all kinds of considerations that are confusing and difficult to evaluate _even for me_ … And I’m pretty smart and pretty well versed in many of the topics you’re introducing… To suggest that I don’t understand or _try_ to understand what the blue-haired progressive masses believe is just absurd.

    By now it’s clear that you have dedicated considerable time to try to understanding me, and as a result, in context to understanding your opponents to the extent I analyzed some of their claims, and defended in some cases their coherence. So, that’s great, and my apologies if I repeatedly said otherwise (I’m not sure, at this point; I thought more often I was talking about what people on both sides usually do? But I don’t remember by now).
    But I still think in general, people on both sides jump to negative conclusions about your opponents regularly. While most people probably do not have the time to try to understand those things and to say something like “well, I don’t have time for this” would be okay, the pattern I see is not okay.
    As for you personally, I still get the impression from other things you say that you jump to negative conclusions about your opponents sometimes, though I grant maybe that’s not common. For example, in the other thread about Transgenderism and Birth Certificates (the one started by Catholic Hulk), you make a number of claims about intent. I believe you shouldn’t believe that (I think Jordan makes some very good points in reply, though I don’t have enough info to assess all of his points). I also get a similar impression from what you say about most people in the modern West.
    My impression at this point is that you pick up on many things most people don’t, and study matters in much greater depth, but also still tend to jump to negative conclusions regarding your opponents.
    That said, I think that jumping to negative conclusions (i. e., believing those negative things, intent, beliefs, etc., when it’s not warranted by the available evidence) about one’s opponents is something nearly all humans tend to do, but human psychology has some rationality shortcomings; I think it’s within our reach to reduce their incidence to a considerable extent (in ourselves, if not in others).

    Their position is a lot closer to something like “I just know I’m a woman because I know how I feel”.

    In most cases, probably, which is in my view epistemically irrational on their part (in adults).

    I say this partly because I have tried “civil debate” (for years, with many different interlocutors including grad students and professors specializing in this stuff). Overwhelmingly, they tend to agree that women have to be female, that we mean (at least) something like ‘female human being’ when we call someone a ‘woman’. Or else they quickly become confused. And so, as a first stab at an objection to what they believe or mean, saying something like “That’s just incoherent” or “But ‘woman’ means (at least) ‘female’ and your feelings don’t make you female” is a _fair_ and _reasonable_ thing to say.

    If we’re talking about not people who claim to be women, men, etc., but about those who specialize on this, the situation is different. I haven’t discussed the matter with them so you have more info, but from what I read, I also think there probably is an inconsistency in their position, at least in most cases.
    However, personally I would think one should qualify the statement, like “That’s probably incoherent”, and then argue for it: for example, most do not believe there are female and male minds, so one can ask them about what the differences between a man and a woman are, or if they remain uncommitted, point out that given no differences between female and male minds, then the difference has to be something like sexual or reproductive organs, or something like that.
    On the other hand, if they do say there are female and male minds, and insist that the difference is based on that (but it’s improbable that they believe that; probably the previous point suffices), I think one can press them on the epistemic rationality of believing that, say, Jenner has a female mind – of course, you can do that without conceding anything about meaning, but leaving that aside.
    In my view, that sort of reply is (probably!) going to be decisive, and you don’t need to open with a claim of incoherence (actually, even when the claim of incoherence is fair and not too quick, I think strategically a reply like the one I just sketch is better, at least in the cases of the few who are willing to debate civilly).
    I mean, it’s going to be rationally decisive, and decisive if they are willing to continue to debate rationally (very improbable).

    Thus I still claim you’re being super-charitable to the trans people and super-uncharitable to people on my side. Their claims about ‘woman’ are coherent if there’s some conceivable battery of sophisticated semantic and metaphysical and historical arguments that would show them to be coherent, even if most of them wouldn’t understand any of these arguments and had nothing very clear or definite in mind; our claims about incoherence are false and uncharitable, even when it’s the actual trans proponents we’re addressing, provided merely that we don’t have a fully worked out philosophical reply to every thought experiment or argument from rigid-designator semantics, etc.

    I don’t think I’m doing that. I think most claims made by people who argue in support of transgender claims probably are incoherent, especially because they try to make their arguments while denying that there are female and male minds (though I still think one should take them on a case-by-case basis, or make general arguments covering different option without claiming incoherence in all cases).
    However, I think unreflective claims like “I’m a woman” based on the very limited evidence that it feels like that to them, are epistemically irrational, but I don’t think there is enough evidence to say they’re probably incoherent, and some of them seem coherent in my assessment.
    In any case, and with regard to charitableness, as I’ve been saying, I believe that most people on both sides tend to be uncharitable towards the claims of their opponents, so even if I got it wrong in your case, that’s not a bias against your side.

    In this respect you yourself seem to be uninterested in “civil debate” although your way of subverting norms of charitable open-minded discussion is much more subtle (and seemingly “civil”) than the people who just want to scream and break things. A truly fair-minded opponent would grant by now that I’ve at least characterized a range of actual trans claims accurately enough, and that I do have good (if not decisive) reasons for thinking that some of these are incoherent. It’s obviously not just some ‘bias’ or straw man or some wish to vilify the trans people.

    I think that you have by now characterized some trans claims accuracy enough, and I agree that some of them are incoherent; the fact that some people quickly become confused, etc., is good reason to believe they’re being incoherent, so you have provided some good reasons.
    You have also raised some other good points about the meaning of the words, and while I still disagree with your position on a number of points, I have updated my evidence, lowering the probability of some of my earlier claims (so, thanks for that; it’s been a good debate).
    Also, I do not and did not believe you have a wish to vilify the trans people, or that it’s just a bias on your part. But I still get the impression that you at least were to some extent biased. Probably (see also my point about the other thread about this, and Jordan’s reply to you). Maybe even if you were, on this you no longer are, or maybe I just got it wrong about you, in which case, I’m sorry.
    I do recognize that I underestimated the depth to which you had considered the matter, so sorry about that, but that was not due to leftist bias on my part. If it was bias, it was more likely bias against whatever I find in on line debates (from both sides).

    However I now think I was way too quick to think you were trolling or trying to muddy the waters. I shouldn’t have assumed that. Sorry! I have no idea what your intentions are but it seems like you’ve given considerable thought to all this, so (even if maybe you’re just messing with me) I appreciate the discussion. It’s been very interesting.

    No problem, and it’s been very interesting for me too.
    I appreciate the discussion as well. You brought up a number of issues I hadn’t considered, and I’ve upgraded my views as a result (even lowering the probability of my claim that a female mind probably suffices).

    • Jacques, I forgot the following part (copy-paste error):

      Maybe you’re not aware that you’re doing this. You seem to think that you’re some kind of political moderate or outsider standing above the fray. In fact you hold standard PC liberal and leftist views on pretty much everything that’s come up–gay marriage, climate change, Christianity, natality, pop culture, etc. The only quasi-exceptions are the trans issue, where you’re very slightly to the right of the mainstream when pressed, and immigration, where you’re a bit more like an old-fashioned race-blind but not anti-white liberal. It could happen that you ended up with all these views for idiosyncratic reasons, having judged on a purely ‘case by case basis’, and not because you begin from a basically leftist world-view or value system, but that seems unlikely. You should wonder whether you yourself have some biases that lead you to hold right-wingers to far higher epistemic standards. You mentioned that you were raised Catholic. Maybe the experience of coming to feel free of the religion has left you inclined to be extra-defensive or extra-hostile toward any world-view that seems like it might lend support to Catholicism or might be coming from Catholicism. I mention this only because you seemed earlier to be interested in my psychology and biography.

      I see you probably don’t know about many of my other beliefs (more below), but that aside, why “quasi” exception?
      I mean, if the transgender issue were an exception, it would not be a “quasi-exception”. For saying much less than what I said here, I would be strongly condemned, demonized, misrepresented, etc, by a zillion people in nearly any leftist venue (aside from a small proportion of feminists), at least if populated by non-philosophers. Similarly, for what I said about female and male minds, I would be strongly condemned, demonized, misrepresented, etc., by a zillion people in nearly any leftist venue (aside from a small proportion of feminists), at least if populated by non-philosophers. Similarly, what I said about immigration, etc…well, you get the point.
      Anyway, let me tell you about some of my other non-leftists beliefs:
      1. I’m not race-blind. I don’t give race the weight you give it for sure, but also I surely do not make the leftists usual claims, e. g., the claim that there is no cognitive differences between races, and in particular no difference in intelligence. Now, I don’t know that there is a difference in intelligence, either, if we count the average of the 3 or 4 races (or whatever the number is; I’m no expert on this), or in which direction. Maybe you have seen evidence I haven’t, but the truth is I haven’t done that much research. But it would be irrational on my part to believe that there is no such difference, on the basis on the evidence I have seen. Moreover, it’s pretty clear to me that regardless of whether the differences match the races, there are bound to be, for evolutionary reasons, at least some subtle cognitive differences resulting from periods of geographical and reproductive isolation.
      In addition to that, I would say that the common belief on the left that there is no cognitive and in particular no intelligence between the races is in turn epistemically irrational. Nearly all of the people on the left at least simply do not have enough information to make an assessment on the matter. But not only do they make that assessment, but most also blame people who do not, call them “racist”, etc., sincerely but irrationally and often falsely.
      2. On nuclear energy, much of the left is also denying science, and torpedoing their own goal of fighting climate change, not to mention causing things like worsening air pollution, dependence of their countries on foreign energy sources (e. g., Germany, maybe in the future France, etc.), by pushing for the decommissioning of nuclear power stations, canceling plans for new ones, etc.
      (I mean the Western left; a very different sort of left – the Chinese government – couldn’t care less, and goes ahead making more nuclear reactors, improving their nuclear tech, etc., but this is all about the Western left).
      3. On GMO, I think some companies (e. g ., Monsanto) abuse (bad) patent laws to their advantage (or lobby to make the laws worse, though they usually don’t realize they’re on the wrong), but on the other hand, taking about “Frankenfood”, demanding labeling, and generally opposing GMO are serious mistakes, and widespread among the left, due to – frequently – just jumping to conclusions.
      4. There is a very strong authoritarian tendency on much (not all) of the left, prone to suppress speech, etc.
      5. People on the left tend to have false and epistemically irrational ideas about economics, and many (most, in my experience) also tend to jump to conclusions and attribute to their opponents intents and beliefs they do not have, etc., as a result of those false ideas about economics.
      I could go on, but I hope this makes it clear that I’m not a leftist, nor do I have a basically leftist world view or value system (by the way, people on the left regularly think when they learn about some of my beliefs that I’m a right-winger, and my non-rightist views are the exception. Such is life).
      I don’t know at this point whether I’m in agreement more frequently with the left than the right. It’s hard to tell, given that I consider both sides are generally very mistaken, even if about different things (though even when they get it right, it’s often for the wrong reasons). But at any rate, I’m surely not a left-winger, just as I’m not a right-winger.

  75. “I still get the impression from other things you say that you jump to negative conclusions about your opponents sometimes, though I grant maybe that’s not common. For example, in the other thread about Transgenderism and Birth Certificates (the one started by Catholic Hulk), you make a number of claims about intent. I believe you shouldn’t believe that (I think Jordan makes some very good points in reply, though I don’t have enough info to assess all of his points). I also get a similar impression from what you say about most people in the modern West.”

    Well, about people in the west… It’s just a fact that on virtually every single issue the left seem to find it obvious that, somehow or other, the culprit is white people (and particularly normal white men). No matter how tortured the reasoning has to be, the conclusion is _always_ that white people are to blame. (Okay, not _always_ I guess. Let’s say 99% of the time.) Whites are guilty for slavery, for the Holocaust, for colonialism and imperialism, for the miserable state of post-colonial countries, for climate change, for Somalis killing each other in Somalia, but also in Sweden, for gay men giving each other AIDS (Reagan’s fault). They’re guilty for not admitting enough non-whites into their countries–as if we didn’t have enough already–but then when they do admit them, no matter how many or how suddenly, they’re guilty for not making all of these people happy and comfortable. Or, for example, they’re guilty for not having enough non-whites in academic philosophy, but then they’re also guilty for trying too hard to include them (as in the recent post about ‘philosophers of color’). It’s hard to believe that people who always come to the same anti-white conclusions, no matter what the topic or the facts and regardless of what might actually be good for society, are not motivated by some kind of serious hostility to white people.

    You might say this is just some “loud minority” who think this way. But even if it’s only a minority that consciously think this way, that must be a minority with the cultural power to direct the behavior and attitudes of pretty much everyone else. In our societies you will _never_ here whites publicly singled out _as_ whites except in order to blame them, ridicule them, vilify them. Never! When leftist scum in academia began their ‘whiteness studies’ programs–the only such programs to take a purely negative, racist, hateful attitude to the group being studied–there was really no effective opposition at all. If perhaps there are lots of ordinary people who don’t agree, they can’t or won’t do anything much to stop it or even complain about it. And it’s not just in the universities. Our governments promote explicit anti-white messages. Our movies now explicitly glorify race-based violence against whites. (If you’re not aware of examples I can give you many.) And obviously nothing of the kind would ever be permitted if the objects of the race-based hatred and demonization were non-white (or Jewish). In fact anyone who published stuff like that would probably be facing a judge in many western countries.

    So it’s the general tone and direction and spirit of the west. I think any fair-minded observer would have to agree. And it just doesn’t matter whether most ordinary people are fully consciously on board. Most ordinary people in any society are ‘apolitical’. Which really means that they semi-consciously accept whatever political ideas are implanted in them by other people who are more aware. ‘Whites are the cancer of history’ is a saying from a pretentious Jewish intellectual that most people know nothing about. ‘#Oscar so white’ or ‘Django Unchained’ or the Ferguson hoax is something any 14 year old in the west knows all about, and knows what they’re supposed to think about it.

    Anyway, I say that these ordinary people are objectively nihilistic and suicidal. They don’t know it. They may feel it though. Consider basic biological functioning as a measure. Mammals with little or no drive to reproduce and fight for their territory must be sick. Something has gone wrong. In humans, it’s natural for us to form families and tribes and defend the in-group against enemies and invaders. A tribe that no longer wants to do this–that no longer seems capable even of recognizing enemies and invaders–is not behaving the way that humans naturally behave. Unless they’re very sick.

    Finally, if you look at what the left–which is to say, the whole mainstream culture and all institutions–is trying to achieve, it is exactly what you’d want to do if you were trying to exterminate or enslave an enemy tribe. And if you were trying to do that by stealth, and gradually. Things like this:

    – Take away any living space where they can freely associate with each other, where they can have some measure of privacy and community. Not a nation, not a region or state or province, not even a neighborhood. (Think of the Section 8 system in the US.)

    – Totally demoralize them. Demonize, mock, denigrate their leaders, heroes, myths, religions, sense of group identity and history and solidarity, etc.

    – Teach everyone that this particular group is responsible for all and only bad things. (A very slight exaggeration of what goes on in the media and ‘education’ system.)

    – Glamorize, celebrate, ennoble any and every person or movement or out-group who harmed them, or has a grievance against them, etc.

    – Deny them employment, status, prospects for upward mobility. (Decades of ‘affirmative action’.)

    – Fill their living spaces with people who don’t like them and resent them and, often enough, will do violence to them.

    – Disrupt their traditional way of life, shared sexual understandings and customs, systems for making families and raising children, etc. (This is where the trans thing comes in, though not just that of course.) People without a solid confident understanding of man and woman can’t form confident societies or transmit their culture. And they’re much less likely to produce the kinds of real men needed to organize and lead any kind of resistance.

    I just can’t believe that our leaders and our whole society ended up settling on an objectively genocidal policy without malicious intent–at least in the upper levels of society. To some extent it may also be explained by sheer greed. Wealthy corporate types want to demolish the white west because it stands in the way of their plans. But if that’s not malicious it’s at least sociopathic.

    I can’t remember exactly what Jordan said about this but I remember thinking it wasn’t quite right. I don’t think I ascribed _malice_ but merely said the trans thing was intended to sow confusion. So, to be clear, I think some powerful people intend that out of malice and others for other vile reasons. They hope to make money, or they hope to consolidate and extend their political power or their profits. And yes, there are lots of ordinary people who don’t think of it this way. But they’re being brainwashed and the net effect is that they end up ashamed of themselves and their ancestors. Which just is a suicidal and nihilistic attitude, even if people can be comfortable enough for a while. Because most people just can’t think of themselves simply as individuals–it’s human nature to identify with your race, ethnic group, etc. Only whites make an effort not to, and it doesn’t really go very deep even for them. Moreover, even if they could do that, the system won’t allow it. They’re going to be constantly reminded that they belong to the bad, inferior, guilty group. To go along with that, even passively or unconsciously, is suicidal (I think).

    You say it’s not relevant that other groups are just as race-conscious as I am. But it’s relevant practically. I have to live with these groups. So I have to be race-conscious in order to understand my situation and defend myself to the extent possible.

    • Jacques,

      Well, about people in the west… It’s just a fact that on virtually every single issue the left seem to find it obvious that, somehow or other, the culprit is white people (and particularly normal white men). No matter how tortured the reasoning has to be, the conclusion is _always_ that white people are to blame. (Okay, not _always_ I guess. Let’s say 99% of the time.) Whites are guilty for slavery, for the Holocaust, for colonialism and imperialism, for the miserable state of post-colonial countries, for climate change, for Somalis killing each other in Somalia, but also in Sweden, for gay men giving each other AIDS (Reagan’s fault). They’re guilty for not admitting enough non-whites into their countries–as if we didn’t have enough already–but then when they do admit them, no matter how many or how suddenly, they’re guilty for not making all of these people happy and comfortable. Or, for example, they’re guilty for not having enough non-whites in academic philosophy, but then they’re also guilty for trying too hard to include them (as in the recent post about ‘philosophers of color’). It’s hard to believe that people who always come to the same anti-white conclusions, no matter what the topic or the facts and regardless of what might actually be good for society, are not motivated by some kind of serious hostility to white people.
      You might say this is just some “loud minority” who think this way. But even if it’s only a minority that consciously think this way, that must be a minority with the cultural power to direct the behavior and attitudes of pretty much everyone else. In our societies you will _never_ here whites publicly singled out _as_ whites except in order to blame them, ridicule them, vilify them. Never! When leftist scum in academia began their ‘whiteness studies’ programs–the only such programs to take a purely negative, racist, hateful attitude to the group being studied–there was really no effective opposition at all. If perhaps there are lots of ordinary people who don’t agree, they can’t or won’t do anything much to stop it or even complain about it. And it’s not just in the universities. Our governments promote explicit anti-white messages. Our movies now explicitly glorify race-based violence against whites. (If you’re not aware of examples I can give you many.) And obviously nothing of the kind would ever be permitted if the objects of the race-based hatred and demonization were non-white (or Jewish). In fact anyone who published stuff like that would probably be facing a judge in many western countries.

      The point in the other thread was not about racism, but about the intent of those pushing some transgender ideologies.
      But that aside, while there are quite a few cases of anti-White irrational beliefs, anti-White blaming, etc., and pointing this out publicly would very likely get one a “racist” label, I would that that is a small and loud minority, not the vast majority of the population.
      You could say that the minority in question has considerable influence. Perhaps, but it’s still not what a vast majority believe.
      Also, blaming Reagan (for example) is not the same as blaming Whites, or White men, or whatever, qua White. Do you think the accusations against Reagan are racially motivated? Or do you think the accusations would not have been made if he had not been White? I don’t know why you think that – I’ve seen accusations against Obama that he’s a mass-murderer for his military decisions, for example.

      Anyway, I say that these ordinary people are objectively nihilistic and suicidal. They don’t know it. They may feel it though. Consider basic biological functioning as a measure. Mammals with little or no drive to reproduce and fight for their territory must be sick. Something has gone wrong. In humans, it’s natural for us to form families and tribes and defend the in-group against enemies and invaders. A tribe that no longer wants to do this–that no longer seems capable even of recognizing enemies and invaders–is not behaving the way that humans naturally behave. Unless they’re very sick.

      I don’t think there is a general drive to reproduce among mammals. There is a general drive to have sex, of course. But that is not the same. The intent is sex, not reproduction. Also, there are territorial and non-territorial mammals.
      But regarding humans, and regarding specifically people on the left, they generally defend their in-group, and generally attack their out-group, which are conservatives. As for the majority of the population, I do not think they don’t want to defend their territories. If, say, Russia attempted to invade, they would want their governments to fight back. The issue is that many on the left don’t see massive immigration with the sort of overall cultural (including religious) makeup as what Europe in particular is getting as a threat. That’s a rationality failure, but not bigger than those generally common in religion/ideology.

      Finally, if you look at what the left–which is to say, the whole mainstream culture and all institutions–is trying to achieve, it is exactly what you’d want to do if you were trying to exterminate or enslave an enemy tribe. And if you were trying to do that by stealth, and gradually. Things like this:

      Okay, I will consider them one by one, but you seem to be considering a number of actions taken by very different people and with very different intentions.

      – Take away any living space where they can freely associate with each other, where they can have some measure of privacy and community. Not a nation, not a region or state or province, not even a neighborhood. (Think of the Section 8 system in the US.)

      What system?
      You mean the proposed changes in Minneapolis?
      What’s the tribe being targeted, and by whom?
      I’m not very familiar with the system, but from what I read, I don’t see any such intent. But if there is, again there is opposition both from Republican and Democrat votes, and in any case, I don’t see any good reason to think this has any anti-White intent.

      – Totally demoralize them. Demonize, mock, denigrate their leaders, heroes, myths, religions, sense of group identity and history and solidarity, etc.

      But the people on the left who do that have their own heroes, myths, religions, etc.; this seems to be an attack on their opponents, not on Whites in general. Moreover, plenty of criticism is warranted and doesn’t come from leftists.
      Some people are trying to do that, but I think that you exaggerate a lot the extent of it.

      – Teach everyone that this particular group is responsible for all and only bad things. (A very slight exaggeration of what goes on in the media and ‘education’ system.)

      While I agree that there is considerable and generally denied anti-White prejudice, I disagree about the extent of the exaggeration.

      – Glamorize, celebrate, ennoble any and every person or movement or out-group who harmed them, or has a grievance against them, etc.

      Some such groups, etc., are celebrated, ennobled, etc., by many people on the left. But I don’t think that non-Jewish White people are the target. Hamas or Hezbollah (for example) are or were celebrated as much as any other group. Their members are Caucasoid (and many just White, if you go by skin color), whereas most of their targets are Jewish.
      On the other hand, it’s definitely not the case that a vast majority celebrates such groups.
      In this case, the target may be much of Western culture, but not White people in particular. And it’s the target of some left-wingers, who are a small minority.

      – Deny them employment, status, prospects for upward mobility. (Decades of ‘affirmative action’.)

      First, affirmative action is not meant to deny White people of employment, status, etc.
      Second, I do not see evidence that affirmative action any large impact on White people. For example, a 2005 study (“The Opportunity Cost of Admission
      Preferences at Elite Universities”, by Espenshade and Chung) reckons that if affirmative action were ended, admissions of White non-Hispanic students would only increase very slightly. Admissions of Black and Hispanic students would fall sharply, while admissions of Asian students would increase a lot. Maybe the study is wrong, but I don’t see evidence supporting such a significant effect on White students, let alone a society-wide impact.
      By the way, in 2014, the SCOTUS upheld a Michigan ban on state-sponsored affirmative action. The ban resulted from a vote in 2006. Oklahoma also voted for a ban in 2012, Nebraska in 2008, Arizona in 2010. I’m not sure how common it is, at this point. There doesn’t seem to be a trend towards more affirmative action overall. It might be in the rise in some places, but being set aside in others.

      – Fill their living spaces with people who don’t like them and resent them and, often enough, will do violence to them.

      But that’s done by the people who don’t like them and resent them. The left is not filling “their” living spaces (granted, they don’t oppose, but that is not the same, especially if you want to assess intent).
      Moreover, many of those migrate illegally do not dislike them or resent them. They’re just trying to get better economic opportunities.
      Granted, massive immigration that does not assimilate is a serious problem, and the left is for the most part undermining any efforts to stop it. But I don’t think this is a majority position, and I don’t think you should discount further reaction from the majorities, which is why several government parties are more or less slowly moving to the right on the matter.

      – Disrupt their traditional way of life, shared sexual understandings and customs, systems for making families and raising children, etc. (This is where the trans thing comes in, though not just that of course.) People without a solid confident understanding of man and woman can’t form confident societies or transmit their culture. And they’re much less likely to produce the kinds of real men needed to organize and lead any kind of resistance.

      Well, I think much of the traditional sexual customs (like punishing people for same-sex relations, etc.) deserved disrupting. And advocating for same-sex marriage (or whatever you call it) is not an attack on other marriages. It’s a means to try what is perceived as unfair discrimination.
      In any case, this is not about White people, or against the West. It happens in the West mostly, but arguments for same-sex marriage (for example) and against criminalizing same-sex relations, etc., are happening in countries that are not Western or not predominantly White, or both, mostly by local activists. Same-sex marriage is now legal in Brazil, South Africa, and much of Mexico, as well as Uruguay and Argentina. Some of those countries have White majorities, others do not. And I’m not sure whether you would count any as Western.
      In places like Uganda, Kenya or Nigeria, where gay sex is unjustly persecuted, some brave activists are fighting against that.

      I just can’t believe that our leaders and our whole society ended up settling on an objectively genocidal policy without malicious intent–at least in the upper levels of society. To some extent it may also be explained by sheer greed. Wealthy corporate types want to demolish the white west because it stands in the way of their plans. But if that’s not malicious it’s at least sociopathic.

      I hope you don’t get angry (I really do), but I think that a malicious intent astronomically improbable, and so is the charge of sociopathy (though, less so, but still so).
      Sure, you reckon otherwise. Our respective probabilistic assessments on the matter are vastly different I’m afraid.

      I can’t remember exactly what Jordan said about this but I remember thinking it wasn’t quite right. I don’t think I ascribed _malice_ but merely said the trans thing was intended to sow confusion. So, to be clear, I think some powerful people intend that out of malice and others for other vile reasons. They hope to make money, or they hope to consolidate and extend their political power or their profits.

      But see, here again this is one of the times in which our epistemic senses are just too vastly distant.
      When I read something like this, what comes to my mind is that I often find people who are very intelligent, thoughtful, knowledgeable in philosophy, science, and so on, and then among other, very reasonable things, they believe things like, say, that Jesus raised the dead, walked on water, etc., or that there is a conspiracy theory from Western elites/business leaders with genocidal intent or enslaving intent against poor people/non-Whites, etc., or some other such belief (among people in many non-Western countries, belief that Western leaders are out to get them is also very frequent, even among intelligent, otherwise knowledge people).
      Of course, this sort of belief is also very common among much less intelligent and/or educated people. This is so common that I’m inclined to think it’s normal human behavior. But if so, I think it’s a case where normal behavior leads to very mistaken assessments. I don’t see a solution.

      You say it’s not relevant that other groups are just as race-conscious as I am. But it’s relevant practically. I have to live with these groups. So I have to be race-conscious in order to understand my situation and defend myself to the extent possible.

      As I see it, doing that will not help you understand the situation better. Rather, it makes you more likely to get it wrong in a way similar to the way in which those with in-group biased mindset in other groups get it, but in a different direction (i. e., you end up seeing one conspiracy, while they would see a very different one).

    • Angra, Jacques suggested the idea of a bias you might have about Catholicism-linked ideas, but I have a different idea. Perhaps you are the kind of person who always thinks the truth is somewhere in the middle. The left blames whites for a wide set of phenomena. Jacques is blaming anti-whiteness for this general tendency of the left. But perhaps you think it requires a real philosopher to transcend the fray and see the truth somewhere between the claims of the zealots. Is that what’s going on here? Is that your modus operandi?

      I say this because you really bend over backwards and go to ridiculous lengths to be “charitable” to the left. And you often display extreme naivety such as this: 

      “By the way, in 2014, the SCOTUS upheld a Michigan ban on state-sponsored affirmative action. The ban resulted from a vote in 2006. Oklahoma also voted for a ban in 2012, Nebraska in 2008, Arizona in 2010. I’m not sure how common it is, at this point. There doesn’t seem to be a trend towards more affirmative action overall. It might be in the rise in some places, but being set aside in others.”

      Do you work at a university? Do you know how actual hiring committees work? Do you think that universities or companies are going to stop favoring women and non-whites because there are occasionally unenforceable legal decisions or popular referendums saying that they can’t do that? Has it stopped them over the last fifty years even though it’s illegal in the US to take race or sex into account in hiring? There’s not a “trend towards more affirmative action”? Really?! Again, do you work at a university? Do you read the news? Have you watched any movies recently? Do you know what’s going on in corporate culture in terms of the incessant push for “diversity” – i.e., anyone but white men?

      I’m not sure what your overall intellectual goal is or whether you’re in academia or not, but perhaps when the anti-white leftists come for you, you will console yourself by saying “at least I was always exceedingly, absurdly charitable to them”. 

  76. “I didn’t say that incoherent=contradictory; I was thinking (roughly) that incoherent=(contradictory or meaningless), and also, I’m not talking contradictions fixing only the connectives; e. g., “Bob is married, and Bob is a bachelor” is contradictory in the sense I’m considering. I’m not sure “7 is blue” is incoherent, assuming it’s not contradictory.”

    You did ask me to derive a contradiction from some claim, given that I say it’s incoherent. But in any case, I think incoherence can (also) mean that the concepts or relations that make up the proposition just don’t cohere–they don’t hold together, so to speak. It seems incoherent (to me) to say that 7 is blue because color concepts just aren’t the kinds of concepts we can meaningfully apply to numbers. The concepts ‘blue’ or ‘red’ or ‘transparent’ have no purchase on the number 7. On the other hand, the proposition that 7 is blue isn’t just meaningless either, and I don’t think a strictly meaningless string of words can be incoherent. The proposition is meaningful in some way or up to a point, because we know what 7 is and we know what blue is, and we know what someone means, in some way, if he says that 7 is blue.

    “But regardless, at the very least, when people talk about something and they seem to understand the claims and not protest that it’s incoherent, that seems clearly evidence that it’s coherent.”

    Lots of people talk about a triune God. God = three things but also God = just one thing, God. Catholics don’t protest that it’s incoherent. Is that clearly evidence it’s coherent? Maybe, but all by itself it’s very weak evidence at best. (Of course, other people often protest, but then I’m protesting that Jenner’s claims are incoherent, and lots of other people say similar things–lots of ordinary people even know would agree that what he’s saying “doesn’t make sense” even if they might not use words like “incoherent”. So that makes the evidence even weaker.) Russell talked about the set of all sets for a long time and didn’t think that was incoherent, but apparently it’s contradictory. People think (and make movies about) time travel stories where people go back and ‘change’ the past. So ‘before’ the time traveler went back, x, y, z had already happened, but ‘after’ his trip x, y and z never happened and instead x*, y* and z* happened. I’m pretty sure that’s incoherent as well as logically impossible, if there’s a difference, but that doesn’t stop people from talking about it and not saying it’s incoherent (or impossible, or unintelligible).

    “Being confused about themselves is what you could expect if they looks to them that they have a boy’s mind despite having a girl’s body, even if there is no contradiction in saying that they have a boy’s mind in a girl’s body, because they’re been told that they’re girls, they are expected to behave as girls, and because it would be – and they realize it – extremely abnormal, odd, etc., that someone would have a boy’s mind and a girl’s body.”

    Maybe, but the issue is not whether it’s coherent to say that you have a boy’s mind and a girl’s body. Let’s set that aside. The issue is whether it’s coherent to say that you _are_ a boy (for example) simply in virtue of having a boy’s mind. Now lots of these kids do claim they’re really boys not just that they have the minds of boys. So you’re saying that’s because they are aware of their own minds and treat the maleness of their minds as sufficient for actually being a boy. But then their confusion about themselves with respect to that issue–are they boys or girls–is also what you’d expect if (a) they understand that being a boy can’t be just a matter of having a certain kind of mind, but (b) they do sense somehow that they’re really boys and (c) they also believe (falsely) that they are girls, or seem to be girls, or have a girl’s body… In that situation they might well insist that they’re really boys, but also feel confusion (about many things but also maybe just that alone) because they realize that just having certain mental traits couldn’t make them boys.

    And in any case, if we give any weight to this very unusual case of language use, it’s swamped by similar evidence that points the other way. Show an ordinary kid a picture of a normal, real little girl, and ask him whether _that_ could be a boy. The answer is no. At least that’s going to be the vast majority of answers, I assume, setting aside irrelevant complications–e.g., the kid has bad eyesight or the girl is dressed up like a boy or something. But then the kid is treating non-mental properties as if they were sufficient to rule out the possibility that she’s a boy, which would just be a conceptual or linguistic mistake if non-mental properties of any kind were in fact generally taken to be sufficient. I realize you think you’ve disposed of this line of argument but I just don’t get it so I’m going to try again. Maybe some analogies help. You know that X is an animal, not a rat or cat; but you don’t know whether X is a poodle. That’s all you know about X. Well, you’re not going to be able to judge whether X is a mammal. Maybe X is a cow, which would be sufficient for being a mammal. If you and everyone else were prepared to judge that X is not a mammal without knowing anything about whether X is a cow, that would be evidence that we don’t treat being a cow as being sufficient for being a mammal. I’m saying this is how most people mostly apply concepts like ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ or ‘man’ and ‘woman’. They do tend to expect that members of each sex have certain kinds of minds, but they don’t act as if they needed to learn about minds in order to confidently identify people as boys and girls, men and women. This evidence cancels any evidence afforded by the very rare cases where people appear to be treating their own minds as sufficient for being boys.

    “In the case of those who choose to say they’re a boy in the body of a girl, the choice of words is evidence that they don’t find it incoherent. The fact that many adults seem to understand that without a problem is also evidence of that, and the fact that adults use that expression as well (e. g., Pinker’s writing something like that, and many others reading it and not objecting on coherence grounds) also provides evidence.”

    Some people don’t object on coherence grounds. But then how many of those people are not objecting (on any grounds) because they sense that you get in big trouble for objecting? How many are not objecting because they’re just not thinkers and they’re trying to fit in. Even if some of them are thinkers, incoherence is often not immediately obvious. I could allow that there’s some prima facie evidence here, but it’s slight and open to many interpretations and, on reflection, it has very little force.

    • Jacques,

      You did ask me to derive a contradiction from some claim, given that I say it’s incoherent.

      Yes, sorry if that gave you the wrong impression (in my exchange with Jordan, I had explained how I understood “incoherent”).
      I asked you to derive a contradiction because had in mind something like incoherent=(contradictory or meaningless), and it seemed obvious to me it wasn’t meaningless. But if you prefer another account of incoherence (Jordan gave another in one of his posts in this thread), okay.

      But in any case, I think incoherence can (also) mean that the concepts or relations that make up the proposition just don’t cohere–they don’t hold together, so to speak. It seems incoherent (to me) to say that 7 is blue because color concepts just aren’t the kinds of concepts we can meaningfully apply to numbers. The concepts ‘blue’ or ‘red’ or ‘transparent’ have no purchase on the number 7. On the other hand, the proposition that 7 is blue isn’t just meaningless either, and I don’t think a strictly meaningless string of words can be incoherent. The proposition is meaningful in some way or up to a point, because we know what 7 is and we know what blue is, and we know what someone means, in some way, if he says that 7 is blue.

      I’ve been thinking about this, and now it’s looking coherent to me. In fact, people with grapheme-color synesthesia would find the claim “7 is blue” as clearly true or clearly false, and in fact, they often make claims like that…only to finally realize that their experiences are unusual, often as adults (you can find some examples in the Wikipedia article on Grapheme-color synesthesia).
      But as I said, okay, let’s say the concept of incoherence is broader.

      Lots of people talk about a triune God. God = three things but also God = just one thing, God. Catholics don’t protest that it’s incoherent. Is that clearly evidence it’s coherent?
      Maybe, but all by itself it’s very weak evidence at best.

      I would agree it’s very weak evidence. One reason is that one can easily find a plausible potential source of bias in that context – and one that also leads them to several very mistaken assessments, in my view.
      On the other hand, there are examples of instances of uses of the expression “a boy trapped in the body of a girl” or similar ones, in which I have not been able to find a plausible potential source of bias.

      Russell talked about the set of all sets for a long time and didn’t think that was incoherent, but apparently it’s contradictory.

      But usage without finding contradictions is still evidence of coherence, and sometimes pretty good. For example, also in mathematics, most mathematicians (please ask if you don’t believe it) agree that ZFC set theory is very probably consistent. One may always posit that maybe the inconsistency is very difficult to prove but real. But the fact that mathematicians have not found and keep not finding such inconsistency is in my view good evidence of consistency (okay, I’m reasonably familiar with ZFC, so that’s also helping, since I’m not entirely relying on evidence from the usage of others, but I’m not at all an expert on ZFC, either).
      At any rate, the fact that Russell and many mathematicians back then talked about the set of all sets for a long time was evidence in support of coherence (even if it turned out in the end that it was incoherent), and surely good evidence in support of the hypothesis that if there was some inconsistency, it was not easy to spot for a reasonable human being.
      From another perspective, a charge of incoherence against Russell because of this would not have much bite – sure, it was incoherent, but here the flaw of rationality, if any, was tiny.

      People think (and make movies about) time travel stories where people go back and ‘change’ the past. So ‘before’ the time traveler went back, x, y, z had already happened, but ‘after’ his trip x, y and z never happened and instead x*, y* and z* happened. I’m pretty sure that’s incoherent as well as logically impossible, if there’s a difference, but that doesn’t stop people from talking about it and not saying it’s incoherent (or impossible, or unintelligible).

      Yes, but some of the viewers do protest and point out it’s inconsistency, whereas others (like me) find the inconsistent obvious but don’t usually care much, and others fail to see it. I don’t see this as overall evidence of consistency – well, partly because the inconsistency is obvious! -, but again, in cases like Pinker’s book, I haven’t seen an inconsistency objection, while you would expect that objection to be very common if we they saw it as inconsistent or otherwise incoherent.
      For example, if I’m reading a science book – even if for the public -, I’m likely to find an inconsistency or any incoherence annoying. I expect others to be more annoyed. On the other hand, if I’m watching a show with a premise you know is inconsistent, I’m not going to be particularly upset if it turns out the show is inconsistent. (Well, actually, it kind of isn’t. After all, nothing we see on screen is actually inconsistent (that would not be possible); what’s inconsistent is the intended interpretation, but I sometimes find it fun to interpret the events in an alternative and consistent manner, with people jumping to other universes without realizing it, etc. But that’s just my weirdness, so moving on…).
      All that aside, you offer evidence against the coherence of some transgender claims on the basis that many people claim that they are. I grant you that that is evidence, but usage by people in the contexts I pointed to is also evidence of coherence.

      Maybe, but the issue is not whether it’s coherent to say that you have a boy’s mind and a girl’s body. Let’s set that aside. The issue is whether it’s coherent to say that you _are_ a boy (for example) simply in virtue of having a boy’s mind. Now lots of these kids do claim they’re really boys not just that they have the minds of boys. So you’re saying that’s because they are aware of their own minds and treat the maleness of their minds as sufficient for actually being a boy. But then their confusion about themselves with respect to that issue–are they boys or girls–is also what you’d expect if (a) they understand that being a boy can’t be just a matter of having a certain kind of mind, but (b) they do sense somehow that they’re really boys and (c) they also believe (falsely) that they are girls, or seem to be girls, or have a girl’s body… In that situation they might well insist that they’re really boys, but also feel confusion (about many things but also maybe just that alone) because they realize that just having certain mental traits couldn’t make them boys.

      Yes, I get that that is not the issue. The reason I said “Being confused about themselves is what you could expect if they looks to them that they have a boy’s mind despite having a girl’s body, even if there is no contradiction in saying that they have a boy’s mind in a girl’s body, because they’re been told that they’re girls, they are expected to behave as girls, and because it would be – and they realize it – extremely abnormal, odd, etc., that someone would have a boy’s mind and a girl’s body.” is that you pointed out that they were confused about themselves in reply to my assertion that “But what they say later does not seem to suggest that it would be contradictory for someone to be a boy in a girl’s body.”, and so my counter is that their confusion about themselves is to be expected given that they believed that they had male minds in female bodies, and regardless of whether it’s coherent to say that you are a boy in a girl’s body.
      I don’t think it’s certain that the reason they claim they’re really boys not just that they have the minds of boys is that they intuitively treat the maleness of their minds as sufficient for actually being a boy, but that seems to me like the most probable hypothesis.
      Still, as I said, they are not adults, so their linguistic competence is likely lower, and so that makes this piece of evidence weaker.

      And in any case, if we give any weight to this very unusual case of language use, it’s swamped by similar evidence that points the other way. Show an ordinary kid a picture of a normal, real little girl, and ask him whether _that_ could be a boy.

      I don’t think that’s a good piece of counter evidence, even if they replied that. Those boys would not have been in a similar situation, so they’re just very unlikely to imagine even that the person in the picture could have a male mind, and if we’re going to ask them to imagine that, for that matter, asking adults would be better since adults are likely more competent with the use of words (and you’ve already offered that as evidence).

      You know that X is an animal, not a rat or cat; but you don’t know whether X is a poodle. That’s all you know about X. Well, you’re not going to be able to judge whether X is a mammal. Maybe X is a cow, which would be sufficient for being a mammal. If you and everyone else were prepared to judge that X is not a mammal without knowing anything about whether X is a cow, that would be evidence that we don’t treat being a cow as being sufficient for being a mammal. I’m saying this is how most people mostly apply concepts like ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ or ‘man’ and ‘woman’. They do tend to expect that members of each sex have certain kinds of minds, but they don’t act as if they needed to learn about minds in order to confidently identify people as boys and girls, men and women. This evidence cancels any evidence afforded by the very rare cases where people appear to be treating their own minds as sufficient for being boys.

      I think nearly all people (even if adult) would regularly be willing to rule out many logically possible things and would say “that could not be the case” or something like that, because I think the word “could” is not usually colloquially understood in the sense of “logically possible” (or, probably, not even metaphysically possible). In other words, they would very likely not understand the question.
      If you could make it likely that they understand the question as one of logical possibility, then sure, that would provide some evidence, though as before, I would say asking adults would be a better way of gathering evidence.

      Some people don’t object on coherence grounds. But then how many of those people are not objecting (on any grounds) because they sense that you get in big trouble for objecting? How many are not objecting because they’re just not thinkers and they’re trying to fit in. Even if some of them are thinkers, incoherence is often not immediately obvious. I could allow that there’s some prima facie evidence here, but it’s slight and open to many interpretations and, on reflection, it has very little force.

      I picked the example precisely because neither Pinker nor a good proportion of his readers are in the grip of leftist ideology (in fact, he argues strongly against the “blank slate” ideology), and while some or many might be afraid to object if their real names are known, you could expect plenty of objections from anonymous reviewers, commenters, etc., and that objection would be common by now.
      But apart from that, not obvious incoherence is a possibility one can always bring in. But it doesn’t cancel the evidence from usage.

  77. “What system?
    You mean the proposed changes in Minneapolis?
    What’s the tribe being targeted, and by whom?”

    The section 8 law does not explicitly have the purpose of bringing large numbers of under-class blacks into formerly white or predominantly white neighborhoods. But that’s exactly what it does, and anyone with any knowledge of realities in the US (like the people who made the law) could easily foresee that it would have that effect.

    Actually this is another good example of how whites are always guilty: if they try to leave areas that are dangerous, dirty and all-around miserable for regular white people, that’s ‘white flight’ and it’s shameful and bad; but if they try to move into places that were majority black or non-white (usually because dangerous unpleasant blacks made things so miserable for whites that they left) then that’s ‘gentrification’ and also bad and shameful.

    The tribe being targeted is white people. More specifically, the kinds of white people who don’t have the means to quietly separate themselves from ‘diversity’ are being targeted by rich powerful white (and Jewish) elites.

    “But the people on the left who do that have their own heroes, myths, religions, etc.; this seems to be an attack on their opponents, not on Whites in general. Moreover, plenty of criticism is warranted and doesn’t come from leftists.”

    Yes, but their heroes are generally seen that way at least partly because they are (or are seen as) anti-white or pro-non-white. And the trend is that once it becomes known that one of these Leftist heroes was actually somewhat pro-white or just not sufficiently anti-white, he’s not such a hero anymore. He becomes ‘problematic’, at first, and then he’s eventually denounced or just ignored. Can you think of even one example of a hero to the Left–or just the mainstream society–who was openly pro-white, or is now thought to have been that way?

    By contrast, “plenty of criticism is warranted” with respect to the Left’s heroes. Martin Luther King was not a good man. Nelson Mandela was in reality as terrorist who refused to renounce violence and pretty cleary didn’t mind necklacing and other horrors. But he’s still a hero. In fact I’m seeing expensive posters all over my city (sponsored by banks and government, naturally) that represent him as a champion of “peace”. Che Guevara was a sociopathic monster and murderer, but people still wear the T-shirts. Etc. Anyway it’s not relevant whether some of the criticism is warranted. I’m sure there’s always some warranted criticism of everyone. The point is that the Left, and the whole society, tends to be hyper-critical of whites and anyone who is even vaguely conceivably pro-white, and hyper-uncritical of non-whites and anyone who is thought to be fighting for their interests against those of (bad, oppressive, immoral) white people. I don’t understand how you can doubt this, if you’re doubting it. Every day I hear some new idiotic thing in the media along these lines–e.g., some soap commercial is ‘problematic’ because it doesn’t have enough non-whites, or a song is ‘problematic’ or ‘offensive’ because someone on the internet says the singer once used ‘the n-word’, or the gay pride parade isn’t progressive enough because they aren’t immediately banning cops like the Black Lives Matter people demanded, or their rainbow flag is ‘racist’ because it doesn’t have black and brown stripes in it–no, I’m not making that up!, or the BBC is ‘hideously white’ or the Oscars are suspect because not even negroes are winning awards… On and on and on and on… And it’s been many years since I can remember any kind of controversy about even the most blatant and over-the-top attacks on white people as such…

    When you say the Leftists (or whoever) are just attacking ‘their opponents’ that’s true but compatible with what I’m saying. Their opponents are defined in many ways, but the most important and emotionally charged characterization of their opponents has to do with race. The very worst sin for them is to identify yourself as a white person in some positive sense, or to _not_ identify yourself as a white person in a deeply negative sense–not to recognize your ‘privilege’ and grovel, etc. They make everything about this, even when it’s obviously irrelevant. They turn on each other over this stuff. So I conclude that it’s all (or almost all) about attacking whites, any form of positive white identity or solidarity, white interests, white traditions, all of it…

    Now, to be sure, many of these Leftists and even normal people don’t consciously think they’re anti-white. But that’s in part because anti-whiteness is _already_ so completely normal and routine and systemic that it feels like it’s just reasonable and mundane and unthreatening. People have been raised for many generations now in anti-white culture and system. They learned in school to feel shame and guilt for what their ancestors did, were, believed, etc. I just read an essay by some centrist entertainer who got fired because he was white–or rather, because the BBC doesn’t have enough “diversity”, as if there’s a difference. He began by saying that _of course_ diversity is essential, a moral imperative, and _we all know that_ But then he went on to whine about how this moral imperative worked out in his particular case. In objective terms, his position comes down to something like this: “Of course we have to deny jobs and opportunities and status to whites, so that non-whites can have those things, but we shouldn’t be doing it so fast/so openly/so aggressively… Or don’t do it to me, anyway!” He might not be conscious of that. My impression is that few people are. I’ve known lots of dumb white liberals and “conservatives” who happily agree that “diversity” is a moral goal, a necessity for society (etc) but also have misgivings about some specific technique being used to achieve “diversity”. But in fact the techniques being used are really the only ones that would work, and they may know that on some level. Or they complain about “reverse racism” thus accepting implicitly the absurd anti-white idea that “racism” proper is something only whites can do to non-whites. They say things like “Imagine if a white person had said/done X instead of a black person…” And of course, in every case, the white person would have been ruined. But they don’t draw the obvious conclusion: since that _never_ happens when non-whites say/do these things, and since instead they’re often celebrated for it, we just don’t operate in a society where whites and non-whites are supposed to follow the same rules and share the same responsibilities. If that was ever a general norm or ideal, it hasn’t been for many decades. But they suppress that thought, maybe because it’s too disturbing. In reality those people are also anti-white. They accept anti-white premises, they go along with anti-white policies, and they only complain about the details now and then. Worse, they don’t even sustain their complaints about the details! The same people and kinds of people who complained about ‘quotas’ in the 80s or 90s now generally say nothing much.

    “First, affirmative action is not meant to deny White people of employment, status, etc.”

    This is sheer assertion. It was obviously meant to create jobs and status for non-whites, without any effort to create a corresponding number of positions for whites. So how would that work, if not by denying employment (etc) to white people? Now you could claim that this was just an unintended or undesired effect, but how do you know that? (To be more precise, if we’re talking about the US, the _original_ form of ‘affirmative action’ was just meritocratic; the aim was just to prevent federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of race in any way. But that only lasted a few years and it has nothing to do with the current laws and use of the term.) Given that everyone knows the general realities, I don’t think there is much difference between intending to confer race-based privileges and benefits on non-whites and intending to take away positions and opportunities that whites would otherwise have on the basis of race-blind merit.

    “Second, I do not see evidence that affirmative action any large impact on White people. For example, a 2005 study (“The Opportunity Cost of Admission
    Preferences at Elite Universities”, by Espenshade and Chung) reckons that if affirmative action were ended, admissions of White non-Hispanic students would only increase very slightly. Admissions of Black and Hispanic students would fall sharply, while admissions of Asian students would increase a lot.”

    I doubt this would hold if we distinguished Jews from other whites. Also I think it’s a mistake to focus on “elite” universities or even just universities. (We also hear, for example, that it’s wonderful and maybe necessary to have black or hispanic judges, even though non-Jewish whites are already badly under-represented in that world.) Also it’s probable that lots of whites now are less capable, motivated and trained than they would have been had our race not been subject to ‘affirmative action’ and similar policies for decades. But in the end it doesn’t even matter. My claim is that when society _tries_ to lock a particular race out of jobs and opportunities, and for racial reasons, that’s exactly what you’d be doing (among other things) if you were trying to slowly wipe them out or enslave them or, at the very least, reduce them to a powerless minority in their own lands.

    “But I don’t think that non-Jewish White people are the target. Hamas or Hezbollah (for example) are or were celebrated as much as any other group. Their members are Caucasoid (and many just White, if you go by skin color), whereas most of their targets are Jewish.
    On the other hand, it’s definitely not the case that a vast majority celebrates such groups.”

    I just deny this. Hamas and Hezbollah are _not_ celebrated _as much_ as the ‘civil rights’ movement or MLK or even Malcolm X, or the anti-apartheid movement or Nelson Mandela. Western governments don’t put up giant totalitarian statues of the leaders of Hezbollah. Most people couldn’t even name them, and many people think of them as ‘terrorists’. Or think of how we are supposed to celebrate communist-trained mediocrities like Rosa Parks. Or think of Barack Obama, for God’s sake. Many of his statements and actions are plainly anti-white, e.g., mindlessly taking the side of Gates against the police in that ridiculous controversy, or Martin against Zimmerman before he knew anything about the case, and on openly racial grounds (“If I had a son…”). I could go on. And even though Obama was obviously nothing special (to put it mildly) in terms of his achievements or ideas when he ran, he was treated by the media and by vast masses of ordinary people as some kind of messiah-like figure. Yes, there are _some_ principled Leftists who criticize his drone policies (etc) but they really are a small minority with little influence. The media and the masses did not galvanize into towering moral rage over any of this the way that they did when Bush II was doing pretty much the same thing. There were no giant protests or endless articles comparing him to Hitler (or whatever) in the New York Times.

    There is now some tendency to turn the logic of anti-whiteness on the Jews. That’s interesting, and I have some faint hope that it might slow things down. But it doesn’t make much difference to my essential point. For decades we’ve had a society where Israelis and diaspora Jews get to openly announce their racial aims and interests, with almost no real opposition, while those same people and groups work to demonize and criminalize any expression of positive racial consciousness on the part of the white majority. That’s just a fact. And they also celebrate any and all anti-white or pro-non-white racial consciousness so long as it’s not anti-Jewish. Thus, for example, the organized Jewish community worked tirelessly to help black nationalists, ‘civil rights’ activists, black agitators and race-baiters, etc. They _only_ cut off funding and support when blacks show signs of turning against Jewish interests. That too is just a fact about how these people and groups have long behaved.

    “The ban resulted from a vote in 2006. Oklahoma also voted for a ban in 2012, Nebraska in 2008, Arizona in 2010. I’m not sure how common it is, at this point. There doesn’t seem to be a trend towards more affirmative action overall. It might be in the rise in some places, but being set aside in others.”

    I agree with Schopenhammer about this. It’s just crazy. Sorry. There very _obviously_ is such a trend, if you look at the whole culture that surrounds us (maybe not you). One of the most obvious and deepest tendencies across _everything_ in our culture could be summed up as “Fewer whites, less white-ness, more non-whites, more non-whiteness”. It’s in advertising, movies and TV, music, immigration policy, education… Everything! Even my most apolitical friends are aware that _anything_ predominantly white is open to a cookie-cutter critique about “diversity” and “representation”. You just sit back and wait for the latest iteration. In that kind of culture, how likely is it that legal decisions are going to start trending toward less affirmative action, or even that they won’t end up giving us more of it, and in ever more areas of life. Moreover, as Schopenhammer points out, there has never been one _effective_ legal move against affirmative action in the whole history of these laws. Not one! O’Connor said the University of Michigan couldn’t use a clear objective points system, and just told them to keep discriminating in other ways–in effect, to do it in ways that would make it harder for anyone to notice or bring a lawsuit. She affirmed the _compelling state interest_ in increasing black enrollment. Anyway, even if there were no trend toward _more_ affirmative action, the kinds that we already have are bad enough, and they’re so illogically justified that it’s reasonable to assume the _intent_ is anti-white (or pro-non-white on racial grounds, if there’s any real difference).

    “But that’s done by the people who don’t like them and resent them. The left is not filling “their” living spaces (granted, they don’t oppose, but that is not the same, especially if you want to assess intent).
    Moreover, many of those migrate illegally do not dislike them or resent them. They’re just trying to get better economic opportunities.”

    This is myopic. If I go out of my way to fiddle with your house so that poisonous snakes can come in and bite you, is it really just the snakes who are “doing” something to you? There wouldn’t be any large numbers of hostile or unassimilable non-whites in the US or other western countries had there not been super-aggressive Leftist activity for years and years. In the US, it can be traced to the (Jewish) Hart-Celler Act. Of course the people who create and promote this kind of legislation, or who fight tooth-and-nail to oppose any changes to it, are “filling” white countries with non-whites. Same with the “refugee” issue. You can’t just blame the Muslim and African “refugees” for all the violence and dysfunction and cultural chaos. You also have to blame–and primarily blame, I’d say–the Leftist and “conservative” and centrist elites who very deliberately imported these enormous numbers of people. They _must_ have known that the natives were going to suffer in all kinds of ways, that they’d be unable to maintain their culture or living spaces, that they’d be attacked and displaced, that the social and physical infrastructure lovingly built and maintained by generations of Europeans was going to be handed over to people with no stake in it, etc. And yet they did it anyway, even when there were so many easily imaginable _other_ ways to help any legitimate refugees (if that was really their concern).

    “…just trying to get better economic opportunities…”

    For many, sure, that’s why they come. But that doesn’t mean whites aren’t being harmed by them. Those “economic opportunities” come at an enormous economic cost to whites, e.g., native Germans or Dutch or British people, or real Americans and Canadians and Australians. They and their parents are the ones who pay for all the services needed by these largely poor unskilled culturally alien people–often entirely new services too, like translation and re-settlement and cultural sensitivity programs. They are the ones who _would_ have been able to get certain jobs, at higher wages or with greater job security, had there not been these masses of aliens coming in. They’re the ones whose kids have inferior educations because of over-crowding, immigrant violence and crime, language problems, the low intellectual or educational level of many of the immigrant kids, cultural misunderstandings or the need to be ‘sensitive’, etc. Also, please think more freely and imaginatively here. Maybe some of these immigrants aren’t anti-white when they first come. In fact I know they’re not, since I’ve met loads and loads over my life. But they often _become_ anti-white once they’ve been here a while. They often find that it’s harder than they thought, that it’s not comfortable, that they’re still kind of poor, that they don’t fit in and there are fewer opportunities than they expected, etc. And they’re told by the media and politicians and school system that all of this is _because_ there are still so many awful white people who are ‘racist’, or because the whole society is ‘racist’, etc. Everything is done to channel their resentments and frustrations–which are actually just the result of living in a society that is not yours–into an anti-white, anti-western ideology. And even if they don’t end up that way, many of their children do. Again, they’re being _told_ by every authority in the society that this is why their lives aren’t as nice as they hoped. Even if objectively they’re pampered and far better off than even most white people, they will _still_ very often end up with anti-white beliefs and attitudes. Like Obama. Like so many rich powerful Jews. Like so many 2nd- or 3rd-generation Muslim immigrants who sympathize with ISiS or even go to Syria to fight for them.

    And all of that is the fault not merely of those immigrants or non-white individuals but also, mainly, the elites who brought them here and programmed them to hate us.

    “…there is a conspiracy theory from Western elites/business leaders with genocidal intent or enslaving intent against poor people/non-Whites, etc., or some other such belief (among people in many non-Western countries, belief that Western leaders are out to get them is also very frequent, even among intelligent, otherwise knowledge people).”

    Well, I agree with something like that. I certainly don’t think that the western elites are _only_ trying to disempower and exploit white westerners. They would like to rule the whole world, and it looks to me as if they’re intent on ruining non-white cultures and countries too. Certainly they don’t care much if those people are treated like slaves or serfs to be moved around as business demands–sweatshop labor over there, then surplus wage-slavery over here, etc. My guess is that they hope that eventually these other cultures will assimilate to the global trash culture they’re promoting. There won’t be real Muslims or Hindus in the west, but just mall rats with Muslim and Hindu names.

    Is this kind of theory “a conspiracy theory”? Maybe. What is a conspiracy? It’s just true that powerful people and groups work together to protect their interests, at the expense of other people, and that they often do that consciously and without telling the public what they really think or want. I mean, that’s human nature, isn’t it? There are lots of conspiracies in that sense. Is it really so hard to believe, for example, that the top-level corporate and banking people work together with national governments and international bodies to achieve things they want, and knowing that this will be very damaging for millions of ordinary people (white and non-white)? Or that the organized Jewish community sometimes co-ordinate their efforts in order to do things they think will be good for the Jews, knowing that it will be poison for non-Jews? To me that seems entirely plausible, and I think there’s strong evidence that in fact this kind of thing happens. AIPAC is a real thing, for example, and the people involved are highly intelligent and aware of their own ethnocentrism. And yet they take obviously inconsistent positions with respect to the US and Israel, Jews and non-Jewish whites, etc. Why? (Are they not smart enough to notice the inconsistencies?)

    • Jacques,

      Actually this is another good example of how whites are always guilty: if they try to leave areas that are dangerous, dirty and all-around miserable for regular white people, that’s ‘white flight’ and it’s shameful and bad; but if they try to move into places that were majority black or non-white (usually because dangerous unpleasant blacks made things so miserable for whites that they left) then that’s ‘gentrification’ and also bad and shameful.

      But that is not an assessment made by the majority of the population.

      The tribe being targeted is white people. More specifically, the kinds of white people who don’t have the means to quietly separate themselves from ‘diversity’ are being targeted by rich powerful white (and Jewish) elites.

      First, that targeting is not done by those making the law (the purpose is not to target them).
      Second, they are apparently being targeted by people who are not motivated by anti-White sentiment (well, at least the elites you talk about; some others are motivated by anti-White sentiment). They blame them because they see those people as being racist.
      Third, in any case, that is not at all the majority of the population.

      Yes, but their heroes are generally seen that way at least partly because they are (or are seen as) anti-white or pro-non-white. And the trend is that once it becomes known that one of these Leftist heroes was actually somewhat pro-white or just not sufficiently anti-white, he’s not such a hero anymore. He becomes ‘problematic’, at first, and then he’s eventually denounced or just ignored. Can you think of even one example of a hero to the Left–or just the mainstream society–who was openly pro-white, or is now thought to have been that way?

      Pro-White?
      Probably not. But I see a problem with pro-White, pro-Black, pro-whatever color (and yes, pro-Black and pro-other colors are not criticized, so that is an anti-White bias; I’m not saying you’re entirely wrong).
      Other than that, I don’t agree with that. Heroes of the left aren’t anti-White in general. Depending on the leftist variant, I could mention Castro, Guevara, Mao, Lenin, or Trotsky.

      By contrast, “plenty of criticism is warranted” with respect to the Left’s heroes.

      Certainly, and heroes or deities of other religions/ideologies too, but this is not anti-White.

      By contrast, “plenty of criticism is warranted” with respect to the Left’s heroes. Martin Luther King was not a good man. Nelson Mandela was in reality as terrorist who refused to renounce violence and pretty cleary didn’t mind necklacing and other horrors. But he’s still a hero. In fact I’m seeing expensive posters all over my city (sponsored by banks and government, naturally) that represent him as a champion of “peace”.

      I haven’t seen the evidence about Mandela, but sure, that could be the case. However, if that is the case, most of the people who believe he’s a hero just do not believe that he engaged in such horrors.

      Che Guevara was a sociopathic monster and murderer, but people still wear the T-shirts. Etc.

      Yes, he was a monster, though he was also White and not anti-White so I’m not sure why you bring him up. Also, most of the people wearing the T-shirts do not know that he did all the monstrous things he did.

      Anyway it’s not relevant whether some of the criticism is warranted. I’m sure there’s always some warranted criticism of everyone. The point is that the Left, and the whole society, tends to be hyper-critical of whites and anyone who is even vaguely conceivably pro-white, and hyper-uncritical of non-whites and anyone who is thought to be fighting for their interests against those of (bad, oppressive, immoral) white people.

      You would have to make “pro-White” more precise; otherwise, I would say that criticism for being pro-White is warranted. But criticism for being pro-Black would be warranted too, and it’s surely not happening frequently, so you have a point there.
      On the other hand, you’re seriously overstating the case. Guevara was White, and so was Castro, and neither of them were in any way anti-White – for example; I gave more examples above.

      I don’t understand how you can doubt this, if you’re doubting it. Every day I hear some new idiotic thing in the media along these lines–e.g., some soap commercial is ‘problematic’ because it doesn’t have enough non-whites, or a song is ‘problematic’ or ‘offensive’ because someone on the internet says the singer once used ‘the n-word’, or the gay pride parade isn’t progressive enough because they aren’t immediately banning cops like the Black Lives Matter people demanded, or their rainbow flag is ‘racist’ because it doesn’t have black and brown stripes in it–no, I’m not making that up!, or the BBC is ‘hideously white’ or the Oscars are suspect because not even negroes are winning awards… On and on and on and on… And it’s been many years since I can remember any kind of controversy about even the most blatant and over-the-top attacks on white people as such…

      If the BBC is “hideously White”, that’s not the majority of the population talking. And the BBC is not anti-White, in general. But yes, I do think there is a lot of anti-White racism among the left. I already said that, and I think you do provide some good examples. I just do not think you’re right either about the beliefs among the general public, let alone any plan by elites (though I think that you’re a lot more wrong about the latter than the former; anti-White racism is a problem, but the idea of a plan is just completely outlandish).
      On the other hand, there is plenty of anti-Black racism as well, and you have to factor that in while looking at the general social situation.

      Or they complain about “reverse racism” thus accepting implicitly the absurd anti-white idea that “racism” proper is something only whites can do to non-whites. They say things like “Imagine if a white person had said/done X instead of a black person…” And of course, in every case, the white person would have been ruined. But they don’t draw the obvious conclusion: since that _never_ happens when non-whites say/do these things, and since instead they’re often celebrated for it, we just don’t operate in a society where whites and non-whites are supposed to follow the same rules and share the same responsibilities. If that was ever a general norm or ideal, it hasn’t been for many decades. But they suppress that thought, maybe because it’s too disturbing. In reality those people are also anti-white.

      Or do they suppress saying so?
      I think it depends on the person, but you’re jumping to conclusions by saying they’re anti-White. Anti-White people generally would not even complain against “reverse racism” (which, yes, it’s based on an absurd idea).
      So, again, I partially agree with what you say, but I think you go too far when it comes to the left and more so when it comes to the general population – and again, the idea of a plan to destroy White people or whatever you think as the White West among elites doesn’t strike me as more likely than some of the key ideas of the left. It’s just not there.

      This is sheer assertion. It was obviously meant to create jobs and status for non-whites, without any effort to create a corresponding number of positions for whites.

      But it was not created to deny White people anything, as you point out.
      But the motivations today are more pro-some minorities than anti-White (though there is some of that too). It also favors Hispanics, which also includes Whites (you can say they’re not, but the color of their skin will not change by how one labels them).

      So how would that work, if not by denying employment (etc) to white people?

      Giving access to the university to, say, everyone – as is done in some countries – is not a means of denying employment, etc., to those who would otherwise (e. g., because they have money) be the only ones with access.

      I doubt this would hold if we distinguished Jews from other whites.

      I don’t see any evidence of that, but even then, why would one do that?
      Jews are White – well, not all Jews, but most Jews.

      Also I think it’s a mistake to focus on “elite” universities or even just universities. (We also hear, for example, that it’s wonderful and maybe necessary to have black or hispanic judges, even though non-Jewish whites are already badly under-represented in that world.)

      Judges are not representing Jews, or non-Jews, or White, or Blacks, or anyone. And if some judges do that, they should not.

      Also it’s probable that lots of whites now are less capable, motivated and trained than they would have been had our race not been subject to ‘affirmative action’ and similar policies for decades.

      Maybe. It’s unclear the extent of that.

      . But in the end it doesn’t even matter. My claim is that when society _tries_ to lock a particular race out of jobs and opportunities, and for racial reasons, that’s exactly what you’d be doing (among other things) if you were trying to slowly wipe them out or enslave them or, at the very least, reduce them to a powerless minority in their own lands.

      But I don’t think society is trying to lock a particular race (or color; “White” is not a race) out of jobs or opportunities. Some people are trying to give members of some minorities more opportunities, to compensate for what they see as prejudice against those minorities (which also exists and is also a problem).
      Also, how are these “their own lands”?
      The US is not the land of a specific race, or color. It’s the land of Americans.

      I just deny this. Hamas and Hezbollah are _not_ celebrated _as much_ as the ‘civil rights’ movement or MLK or even Malcolm X, or the anti-apartheid movement or Nelson Mandela. Western governments don’t put up giant totalitarian statues of the leaders of Hezbollah. Most people couldn’t even name them, and many people think of them as ‘terrorists’. Or think of how we are supposed to celebrate communist-trained mediocrities like Rosa Parks.

      I was thinking as much as other people seen as heroes by part of the left, and who are anti-White, and if you’re talking about Mandela or MLK, you’re right, but again most people don’t know that much about actions for which he’d deserve criticism.
      But still, take simply pro-Palestinian activism. Don’t you see, among the left, a very strong current of support? Don’t you see a very strong trend of condemnation of Israel among the left?

      Yes, there are _some_ principled Leftists who criticize his drone policies (etc) but they really are a small minority with little influence. The media and the masses did not galvanize into towering moral rage over any of this the way that they did when Bush II was doing pretty much the same thing. There were no giant protests or endless articles comparing him to Hitler (or whatever) in the New York Times.

      Well, you can easily find a lot of criticism of Israel, including comparisons with the Nazis or whatever.

      There is now some tendency to turn the logic of anti-whiteness on the Jews.

      Jews are in nearly all cases, White!
      If you go by skin color, they are. If you go by race, “White” is not a race in the first place, and the race that would encompass Whites is Caucasoid, which includes Jews, and Arabs, Indians, etc.
      It’s more likely that the target is traditional Western values, not race-based. Israel is attacked as it’s seen as an ally of America.

      One of the most obvious and deepest tendencies across _everything_ in our culture could be summed up as “Fewer whites, less white-ness, more non-whites, more non-whiteness”.. It’s in advertising, movies and TV, music, immigration policy, education… Everything! Even my most apolitical friends are aware that _anything_ predominantly white is open to a cookie-cutter critique about “diversity” and “representation”. You just sit back and wait for the latest iteration. In that kind of culture, how likely is it that legal decisions are going to start trending toward less affirmative action, or even that they won’t end up giving us more of it, and in ever more areas of life.

      Let’s see: the SCOTUS upheld a ban on affirmative actions, some states voted for such bans, and if Kennedy or one of the left-wing Justices retires or dies before 2021, the SCOTUS will uphold said bans and not be favorable to affirmative action for decades. I wouldn’t go with “likely”.
      But again, I don’t think you don’t have any points here. I do think anti-White racism is a serious problem, and also the fact that pointing that out gets one labeled a racist is a serious problem, and so on. But you seem to go beyond what the evidence shows – sometimes by a little, sometimes by a lot.

      Moreover, as Schopenhammer points out, there has never been one _effective_ legal move against affirmative action in the whole history of these laws. Not one! O’Connor said the University of Michigan couldn’t use a clear objective points system, and just told them to keep discriminating in other ways–in effect, to do it in ways that would make it harder for anyone to notice or bring a lawsuit. She affirmed the _compelling state interest_ in increasing black enrollment. Anyway, even if there were no trend toward _more_ affirmative action, the kinds that we already have are bad enough, and they’re so illogically justified that it’s reasonable to assume the _intent_ is anti-white (or pro-non-white on racial grounds, if there’s any real difference).

      It’s not pro-ethnic Japanese, Korean or Chinese, and it seems to have considerably more of a negative impact on them than on Whites, at least by the evidence available to me.

      This is myopic. If I go out of my way to fiddle with your house so that poisonous snakes can come in and bite you, is it really just the snakes who are “doing” something to you?

      Yes, though your intent here is “so that”, and that’s not what’s happening here. The left is not going out to get people and bring it. Rather, people are trying to get in, and the left are siding with them, because they believe that’s the right thing to do. It’s not motivated by hatred towards the people in the countries receiving the migrants.

      They _must_ have known that the natives were going to suffer in all kinds of ways, that they’d be unable to maintain their culture or living spaces, that they’d be attacked and displaced, that the social and physical infrastructure lovingly built and maintained by generations of Europeans was going to be handed over to people with no stake in it, etc.

      No, they did not know it. They do not know it. They do not even know that that has happened. And it has not happened to the extent you seem to think it did, but it partially has happened, and it’s getting worse. And more people – not on the left – are reacting. You could expect the numbers to grow.

      For many, sure, that’s why they come. But that doesn’t mean whites aren’t being harmed by them.

      Or, for that matter, non-Whites, or Whites who are also Jews, and so on.

      Those “economic opportunities” come at an enormous economic cost to whites, e.g., native Germans or Dutch or British people, or real Americans and Canadians and Australians.

      Non-White people are real Americans too, and I don’t see why Latin Americans would be a bigger competitor in the labor market for White Americans than for, say, Black Americans. In fact, if the immigrants have less formal education than the average American (just as Black Americans do), I would expect that the impact would be greater on Blacks.

  78. Schopenhammer,

    I’m afraid you’re mistaken about me. Not only do I not bend over backwards or go to any lengths (ridiculous or not) in order to be charitable to the left. I don’t even try that. I try to figure out what people more likely intend, believe, etc., regardless of whether that reflects bad on them or not.
    Also, no, I don’t think always the truth is somewhere in the middle. I agree sometimes with people on the left, and sometimes with people on the right. And it’s not about Catholicism, either. But I do think they usually get it wrong. Still, others get it more wrong, in many cases (e. g., on economics, I think Marxists get it a lot more wrong than the vaguer Catholic social doctrine on it; on proper reaction to homosexual sex, I think Sunni Islam gets it far more wrong, etc.), and sometimes they get it right, even if for the wrong reasons (e. g., on specific economic issues, I often agree with the RCC; I agree with most of their position denouncing the Venezuelan government, or generally I agree with much of their critique of communist regimes – even if not their rationale, to a considerable extent -, and so on).
    As for universities in the US, of course I would expect people who are actually committed leftists – rather than the vast majority of the population – to try to insist on favoring some minority groups in universities despite legal changes. However, I don’t think they would succeed in keeping the system as it is, so it’s likely that admissions of Black and Hispanic students would go down, and Asians would go up, and non-Hispanic White students would probably go up a little bit. Or do you think that Asian students and conservative groups who are challenging affirmative action are just completely naive because they try to bring about a legal change? At least, I see no evidence of that. I think a legal change would not likely stop all race-based or ethnic-based discrimination, but it would reduce it to different extents depending on the university, but overall considerably.
    By the way, they’re not favoring non-Whites specifically. They’re favoring some groups, like Blacks and Latinos. People of ethnic Japanese or Han Chinese descent are not Whites, and they’re not being generally favored.
    Still, even assuming that there would be no change in actual policies even if affirmative action is banned, my point would still hold about Western society: the actions in this case would be those of a very small minority in universities, against the will of majorities voting against it. Now, in other places, majorities are in favor of affirmative action (which isn’t always anti-White bias; that depends on the case, but that aside), but I don’t see this as an anti-White trend in the majority of the population, given the available evidence.
    That aside, as I said in my replies to Jacques, I don’t live in his country, or yours. I do read the news, and papers on the matter (I do happen to work at a university, but not in any country relevant to the debate, so that’s beside the point).

    • I don’t have enough info to explain Rotherham, but if we’re talking about a conspiracy and/or intent to destroy the West and/or the White West from the UK government/elites or whatever, that seems extremely improbable (i. e., it’s not happening)
      If we’re talking about some people lying for money or in exchange for different sorts of favors, or remaining silent out of fear of accusations of prejudice, etc., sure. Others were just incompetent. I don’t know enough details to figure out who did what, exactly, but in any case, the case was in the end exposed, the public at large were in fact outraged upon learning about it, people in the government did intervene, and so on. I don’t know whether that would have been the case if it had happened in, say, Pakistan.
      By the way, I’d like to ask which classification of human races you are using for your assessments (a link or a name will help), and which race the perpetrators of Pakistani origin were.

  79. Jacques,
    I’d like to clarify something.

    Giving access to the university to, say, everyone – as is done in some countries – is not a means of denying employment, etc., to those who would otherwise (e. g., because they have money) be the only ones with access.

    I meant in some countries the intent is to give university access to everyone who wants to go, or at least as many people as doable. It doesn’t have to be successful, but the point is that giving access to people who otherwise wouldn’t have access is not a means of denying employment to those who otherwise would be the only ones with access. In the US case, the problem is not that they try to give access to Black people, but that they do so by denying access to other people (mostly also non-Whites, at least nowadays) who would otherwise have access. But still, it’s not done with the intent of denying anyone access to the job market.

    • Jacques,
      We make assessments of intent on the basis of the behavior we observe. Of course, intent is underdetermined by behavior (as usual, since theory is nearly always or always underdetermined by observations), so it’s consistent with observed behavior that intent is pretty much anything. But that does not keep us from making proper intuitive probabilistic assessments of intent.
      Now, I’m just trying to make an assessment in the usual fashion. Your assessment here does not seem to be realistic at all to me. But it’s a case in which our respective epistemic intuitions are so far apart that I don’t think there is much more to be said. It strikes me as a case in which a Christian philosopher argues for the resurrection on the basis of historical events, or generally as pretty much what I see very frequently from people committed to a leftist or rightist ideology, religion, etc., in the West or otherwise.
      I think perhaps it’s better if we just call it a day?
      I don’t think further debate at this point is likely to be productive, and it’s taken already a lot of time.

  80. “Germany for Germans” in context was obviously anti-Jewish in intent. Likewise “diversity” plainly implies fewer whites, less power for whites, etc

    • Sometimes it does, but when it does, it’s often because it’s a way of trying to reduce perceived pro-White bias. It’s not intended to eradicate Whites, or even to make them a minority (think of the group “underepresented” claims).
      At any rate, I do think there is a problem of considerable anti-White bias. I don’t think it’s as extensive as you think (in particular, in terms of motive), and I also think anti-Black bias, anti-Latino (White or not, but mostly not) bias, etc., are significant problems.

  81. “We make assessments of intent on the basis of the behavior we observe. Of course, intent is underdetermined by behavior (as usual, since theory is nearly always or always underdetermined by observations), so it’s consistent with observed behavior that intent is pretty much anything. But that does not keep us from making proper intuitive probabilistic assessments of intent.”

    Right, so here the observed behavior includes things like (a) 24/7 propaganda depicting just one specific race as bad, oppressive and unjustly ‘privileged’ and making it socially or even legally dangerous to depict any other race in a negative way; (b) making laws and policies that always disadvantage that one race in relation to all others; (c) working hard to prevent just that one race from maintaining their living spaces and ability to organize politically or even publicly identify themselves except in negative ways, (d) excusing and legitimating racial discrimination violence against just that one race… It is pretty reasonable at that point to suppose that there is some kind of intent to harm that race. To say that the intent behind all of this could be “pretty much anything” would be unreasonable.

    “Sometimes it does, but when it does, it’s often because it’s a way of trying to reduce perceived pro-White bias. It’s not intended to eradicate Whites, or even to make them a minority”

    In the modern west “diversity” is _always_ understood to mean “fewer whites, less power for whites” even if it sometimes means other things too (e.g., fewer heterosexuals or fewer Christians). Everyone knows that. This is just a fact about colloquial English at this point. If someone says the BBC is not “diverse” enough it just does mean or imply at least that it’s too white. No one would think that a BBC show with homosexuals, transsexuals, men and women, veterans and non-veterans was properly “diverse” if all those people were white. You say “its not intended to eradicate whites, or even to make them a minority”. What is there in the behavior of our elites or media or academics or anyone else that enables you to claim this is not the intent, or not even one of various intentions behind all these trends? You just keep asserting this with no evidence–except, maybe, some kind of “intuition”. That’s not good enough given the behavior we’re interpreting, including explicitly anti-white statements and theorizing from powerful groups and individuals. I mean, we have people explicitly saying that it would be good for whites to be a minority. And even when it’s not said, whites being a minority obviously would result from current trends and policies unless radical changes are made–changes that everyone in power explicitly rejects and pretends to regard as ‘racist’ and immoral. And it is what you _should_ aim for if you really think a radically “diverse” society is the ideal. Which is what everyone is supposed to think. And yet, still, you resist the idea that anyone _intends_ even that? On what basis?

    Focusing specifically on the intentions of elite and organized Jewry in the west, we have a group who’ve very often explicitly talked about how Jews are better off when society is “diverse”, when there is no ethnic majority. Which is true: they are better off in that situation. And they openly promote “diversity” and mass immigration and all the rest of it on this basis. And it’s actually well documented that powerful Jewish individuals and organizations have been crucial in this whole process. The Hart-Celler Act is one example. Read Kevin MacDonald’s work and then tell me your “intuitive” assessment of the probability that none of this was done with the intention of displacing and disempowering whites, making them a minority in their homes, etc. It’s absurdly improbable that any powerful ethnocentric high IQ minority behaving in this fashion–while simultaneously promoting nationalism and demographic control in their own country–is not acting intentionally.

    The very idea that we need to “reduce pro-White bias” in white countries is anti-white. There’s nothing going on in any western country that would privilege whites, as whites, over others. Can you offer even one example?

    Maybe the idea is that the culture or way of life involves “pro-white bias”, and that needs to change. Whites are more comfortable in England, for example. They fit in better. The culture and system and way of life suits them better than Asians or Pakistanis or Ethiopians. Well, that might be true in certain respects. But that’s how it should be! It’s their country. The idea that whites need to eliminate anything about their own countries and communities that is uniquely comfortable and natural for them, just because some others don’t like it, is an anti-white idea. Imagine someone going to Japan and saying “This is hideously Japanese. I’m from Montana and I don’t feel at home here. You need to change it all so there’s no ‘pro-Japanese bias’ in your society” That person would be an anti-Japanese jerk. He should go home if he doesn’t like it.

    “I also think anti-Black bias, anti-Latino (White or not, but mostly not) bias, etc., are significant problems.”

    I can’t think of even one example of this. Lots of people have negative views of blacks, but how is this “bias”? Blacks tend to behave in ways that other people very understandably don’t like. And yet the establishment will come down hard on anyone who talks about the bad black behavior that leads to these feelings and beliefs. Blacks are legally privileged over whites in every western country. Even their most idiotic and destructive political activities are taken seriously. (BLM, for instance.) They are a tiny minority but politicians and corporations pander to them. What on earth could you be talking about when you say there is a “significant” problem of “anti-Black bias”? I can only assume that you’re referring to the mostly private and socially unacceptable attitudes of some non-blacks. But does any of that actually cause any harm to black people? As far as I can tell, all of their worst problems are due to their own bad behavior and foolish choices, together with very misguided state interventions that make these problems far worse. The same is true to a lesser degree for “Latinos” in the US (or elsewhere).

    To compare the anti-white bias that runs through our whole society to whatever “bias” may be encountered by blacks or “Latinos” makes little sense to me. What are you talking about?

    “No, they did not know it. They do not know it. They do not even know that that has happened. And it has not happened to the extent you seem to think it did, but it partially has happened, and it’s getting worse.”

    How do _you_ know this? I knew it. Lots of other people knew it. There was all kinds of evidence available all along. Anyone who looked at what major European cities were like even ten or twenty years ago could easily predict that probably all this would happen if you were to massively amp up the rates of non-white and Muslim immigration.

    “It’s not pro-ethnic Japanese, Korean or Chinese, and it seems to have considerably more of a negative impact on them than on Whites, at least by the evidence available to me.”

    This is myopic, again. Why are Koreans or Chinese even _in_ the US or the west in such huge numbers? All of those people too are displacing native whites. If they were to get into some university or some job on the basis of sheer merit, that would also mean that some white person who might have had that position without mass immigration didn’t get in. And besides, Koreans and Chinese have Korea and China to go back to. Or even if they can’t fit in there, because they’re too assimilated, their _people_ still have a homeland, a chance to carry on their own heritage and develop in their own way. What are the English people supposed to do once their country and institutions and infrastructure have been given to others? Where will the English or the French or the Dutch or the white Americans or Canadians continue to exist as a distinct people who can develop in _their_ way?

    “Jews are in nearly all cases, White!
    If you go by skin color, they are. If you go by race, “White” is not a race in the first place, and the race that would encompass Whites is Caucasoid, which includes Jews, and Arabs, Indians, etc.”

    Whites in one familiar sense of the term are a branch of the Caucasian race. Indians and Arabs are non-white Caucasians. Jews are white in a certain sense–more precisely Ashkenazic Jews are mostly a European or quasi-European ethnic group (“race” in the old-fashioned sense). Since they have always regarded themselves as racially distinct from other Europeans, and married accordingly, it is reasonable to distinguish between them and the rest of the European racial groups or ethnicities. If you like, consider this use of “white” in context as an abbreviation for “non-Jewish ethnic Europeans” or something like that. Politically it’s important because Jewish activism is based on a racial attitude towards other “whites”, perceived by Jews as others (regardless of how different they really are genetically).

    • Jacques,

      What is there in the behavior of our elites or media or academics or anyone else that enables you to claim this is not the intent, or not even one of various intentions behind all these trends?

      Essentially, most of what they do. They aren’t space aliens. They grow up in the West, among many Whites. They are mostly Whites. Their loved ones are mostly White. And when one assesses individual actions, they’re mostly intent on things like trying to reduce perceived (real or not) injustices against minorities, or just go with the flow for political convenience (but that’s probably not so common). Their moral outrage at White racists is genuine (and warranted), and so is their outrage at many other things (i. e., genuine, even if often not warranted).
      If you look at the behavior of most people in the media, or academics, or political and business elites, and you think it’s not beyond a reasonable doubt that they’re not attempting to eradicate Whites, we just make vastly different assessments. I’m not saying no one is trying to eradicate Whites. Some racist fanatics of that kind do exist. But they’re very few and have almost no power.
      As for making Whites a minority, the number of people trying is surely higher than the number going for extermination, but still very few, in terms of proportions and power. The idea that this is a general trend among Western elites, media or academics seems just vastly improbable, as far as I can tell.
      I also disagree with your points that there is no anti-Black bias, and several others (again, it’s not that I don’t think you don’t make some good points, but some other points just seem way off, in my assessment).
      That said, this is taking a lot of time. It was a good conversation about transgender claims and related stuff, so thanks for that, but I’d rather not continue with this one.

  82. Angra, how old (roughly) are you? Be honest. You claim that you work at a university somewhere, but I’m not sure what that means and you come across as being in your early twenties. Is that about right? I ask because I don’t want to waste my time or be overly insulting if you are just a naïve young man high on philosophy and the ability to use your oh-so-subtle reasoning and oh-so-noble epistemic standards.

  83. Sure, if you don’t want to continue I understand. I’m going to keep going though, because I think it’s important and just in case someone someday might read this. And I want to work out my own position on some of these things…

    “They aren’t space aliens. They grow up in the West, among many Whites. They are mostly Whites. Their loved ones are mostly White.”

    That’s true, but seems to depend on simply ignoring things I’ve been arguing at some length above. People can be anti-white (I claim) even though they aren’t conscious of holding anti-white attitudes: their thoughts and behaviors and feelings are structured by a racist (anti-white) ideology that was implanted in them early on. They’re brainwashed, basically. And that’s possible even when they don’t consciously believe things like “We white people are bad and inferior” or “We don’t deserve to exist as a distinct people”, etc. This is what I’ve been claiming, anyway. So the mere fact that these people are white, or that their friends and loved ones are white, is no evidence against my claim. It’s just irrelevant. But in case it matters, I’ll offer a brief explanation of what’s going on here. They love themselves and their friends and family but never consciously love them _as_ whites. They have positive feelings about them _as_ individuals, or family members or co-workers or whatever. But not as whites. Their feelings about whites _as_ whites are bad. Whites are guilty for slavery, the Holocaust, etc. etc. etc. This is what they were taught. Whites can be good as individuals, to the extent that they recognize that it’s wrong for whites to be proud of their race or defend other whites as whites. This is a realistic description of all the white people I’ve known in my life, here in the west, except for a few really old people and a few really marginal people–criminals, thugs, skinheads. Anyway, my account of how these ordinary people feel might be wrong but to merely point out that people in media or academics or others are white, have white friends and relatives and so on is just to ignore what I’ve been saying.

    “And when one assesses individual actions, they’re mostly intent on things like trying to reduce perceived (real or not) injustices against minorities, or just go with the flow for political convenience (but that’s probably not so common). Their moral outrage at White racists is genuine (and warranted), and so is their outrage at many other things (i. e., genuine, even if often not warranted).”

    This also may be true, or true enough. But it just pushes the question back. Yes, many people are doing things or going along with things because they think they’re “reducing injustices against minorities”. But _why_ do they believe that minorities suffer injustices, or injustices that require the rest of us to do things? For example, why do these well-meaning nice people go along with ludicrous ideas about blacks? Why do they accept or even endorse the idea that blacks are in danger from racist cops, or that it’s somehow bad for cops to “profile” blacks, i.e., be more suspicious of blacks than whites, other things being equal? These are ideas that have zero basis in reality. Blacks are a far greater threat to cops, and to each other, and to almost everyone else, than cops or whites or society presents to blacks. This is borne out by all information we have, all statistics, everything… And yet these nice white people basically _accept_ all this crap. And for the most part they don’t like it when people complain about black criminality and general unpleasantness–they’re often uncomfortable with that, and they often say it’s “racist”, which is a Very Bad Thing for them.

    The reason they have these attitudes can’t be that they’re well supported by any known facts. On the contrary, most of these ideas are totally at odds with common sense and experiences that any typical white person has had. (Blacks do not generally come across as meek little pacifists or victims, for example.) Some explanation is needed. Here is my theory: they accept this crap because they’ve been deeply conditioned to deny the most basic interests of their own group and bow down to non-whites even when their complaints are totally false or illogical or amoral. They accept it because they’ve been trained to accept an anti-white, pro-non-white ideology.

    And I say similar things about other claims of yours. For example:

    “Their moral outrage at White racists is genuine (and warranted), and so is their outrage at many other things (i. e., genuine, even if often not warranted).”

    Yes, it _is_ genuine! But, again, why is it that seemingly intelligent sane people are so deeply outraged about things that just obviously don’t exist, or obviously don’t matter much? There are almost no real “White racists” left in the whole western world. I mean people who are “racist” in some sense that would warrant outrage, or even any kind of concern. Maybe 1% of the white population or less? And those that remain have zero influence on anything. What percentage of the white population would even agree to the kinds of things I’m saying here–that whites should have pride and racial solidarity, that it’s okay for us to pursue our own racial interests and resist the demands of other races? How many would even agree that we need to stop or radically reduce non-white immigration? These are not even “racist” positions, or not in any sense that would make outrage “warranted”. But many white people, and most elite or academic or media white people, would be outraged and disgusted by what I’m saying.

    Why is that? Why do seemingly intelligent sane people care that some other white person once called someone a “nigger” in private? Why do they think that “white racism” even exists at this point, except as some kind of totally shameful marginal phenomenon? Why do they believe that this basically non-existent thing is so terrible and important?

    Well, I explain it by saying they’re brainwashed. They’ve been taught that normal and healthy things like wanting freedom of association, or not wanting your grandchildren to look nothing like you, are morally wrong–at least when white people are normal and healthy, and otherwise not morally wrong. You seem content to just leave it unexplained, as if it were not weird and surprising to find large numbers of people outraged and indignant on behalf of other groups that generally don’t like them, when those other groups are not even being harmed in any important way. But it needs explaining.

    “As for making Whites a minority, the number of people trying is surely higher than the number going for extermination, but still very few, in terms of proportions and power…”

    But, again, it’s not about the numbers of people consciously trying to do that. Most Germans were not consciously trying to exterminate the Jews of Europe but, according to mainstream thinkers and historians, the Nazi regime was indeed genocidal. And that’s entirely possible. My thesis has been that the west is in the power of an anti-white movement _even though_ most people in the west aren’t consciously anti-white. Again you are just refusing to engage my position on its own terms.

    “I don’t have enough info to explain Rotherham, but if we’re talking about a conspiracy and/or intent to destroy the West and/or the White West from the UK government/elites or whatever, that seems extremely improbable (i. e., it’s not happening)”

    So it’s not happening. It’s just too improbable. Again just these arrogant assertions. On what basis do you know this? Some “intuitive” kind of “assessment” of what is and isn’t probable, in the absence of any detailed knowledge of the case. You should inform yourself before just asserting this. We’re talking here about a cover-up involving pretty much all institutions of British society, over about 16 years–the local and national media, the social services, the government, the local mosques, the police… ALL of them were involved in facilitating it, covering it up, detracting attention. And in some cases actively punishing victims or their relatives–e.g., the father who was arrested trying to get his child away from the rape gang. In some cases actively colluding with the rapists. No, given all of that it is not “extremely improbable” to suppose that there was an anti-white intent behind the co-ordinated actions of all these people and organizations over many years. Again, this could be true even if many of these individuals were not themselves consciously anti-white; they were working within an anti-white system designed by people and forces that are consciously anti-white. You want to just breezily dismiss that without even learning more about the case.

    “If we’re talking about some people lying for money or in exchange for different sorts of favors, or remaining silent out of fear of accusations of prejudice, etc., sure.”

    Okay, but now think this over. We can ask _why_ people were “silent out of fear of accusations of prejudice”. We have to consider what that _means_ in this context. Why would such an accusation matter so much? Why would it be taken seriously even in a case like this, where there are obviously many other excellent reasons not to be silent apart from “prejudice”?

    Social workers, for example, decided to let over 1000 white children be sexually tortured, beaten, set on fire and prostituted over many years in order not to be called “prejudiced” or “racist” or “Islamophobic”. So even when it could easily be proven that white children were victims of profoundly disgusting crimes at the hands on non-whites EVEN THEN it would be considered wrong or shameful to simply take the side of the white victims. EVEN THEN it was apparently widely understood that, if you knew what was good for you, you would take the side of the non-white child rapists.

    This could not possibly happen in a society that didn’t have an extreme anti-white ideology. At least I can’t imagine any other way that it could happen. But you are content to simply note that people _did_ remain silent because of such fears, as if that were some kind of alternative to the explanation I’m proposing. No. It’s something that has to be explained, and can’t really be explained any other way.

    “…the case was in the end exposed, the public at large were in fact outraged upon learning about it, people in the government did intervene, and so on. I don’t know whether that would have been the case if it had happened in, say, Pakistan…”

    And so what? After many years it was finally exposed, pretty much by a fluke. It might well never have been exposed, and I guarantee you that many similar cases remain unexposed, and the media and authorities are doing all they can to keep them secret–just as they did for all those years with Rotherham. So yes, the fact that this one case was exposed and generated outrage shows that British society is not yet completely suicidal, or so extremely anti-white that once it came out they were high-fiving the child rapists. I don’t think this does anything to undermine the argument I’m making.

    Would anything like that have happened in Pakistan? Well, I have no idea. Do you think the Pakistanis would ever allow thousands and thousands of the worst scum in the west to come settle in their country and rape their children for 16 years? I think the government would never let them in. I think even if they did get in the locals would kill them as soon as it became known what they were doing. The whole thing is impossible to imagine. No non-white country would be so insane and suicidal as to admit thousands and thousands of scum from some other race. And, anyway, who cares? Rotherham is Rotherham, and modern “diverse” England is as sick and evil as it is, regardless of what might have happened in some other place.

    “By the way, I’d like to ask which classification of human races you are using for your assessments (a link or a name will help), and which race the perpetrators of Pakistani origin were.”

    No idea. They aren’t white. No one in Britain, including Pakistanis, would consider them white. However we describe it there is a racial (genetic, biological, ancestral) difference between them and their victims. If you want to say they’re all Caucasians, fine. There are different races or sub-races of Caucasians.

    • Jacques,
      While I don’t want to continue, I will at least once more, given that your reply is very negative towards some of my assessments and more importantly (for me) the way I make assessments in general, and I want to clear that up (to be clear, the fact that I only reply to a small proportion of your assertions reflects the fact that I’m trying not to further engage, not that I agree with the rest. I find several of your other claims also extremely improbable).

      That’s true, but seems to depend on simply ignoring things I’ve been arguing at some length above. People can be anti-white (I claim) even though they aren’t conscious of holding anti-white attitudes: their thoughts and behaviors and feelings are structured by a racist (anti-white) ideology that was implanted in them early on.

      Sure, but my point was in reply to your question “What is there in the behavior of our elites or media or academics or anyone else that enables you to claim this is not the intent, or not even one of various intentions behind all these trends?”. It was a reply to a question about a hypothetical intent to eradicate White people, or to reduce the numbers.

      It’s just too improbable. Again just these arrogant assertions.
      So it’s not happening. It’s just too improbable. Again just these arrogant assertions. On what basis do you know this? Some “intuitive” kind of “assessment” of what is and isn’t probable, in the absence of any detailed knowledge of the case. You should inform yourself before just asserting this. We’re talking here about a cover-up involving pretty much all institutions of British society, over about 16 years–the local and national media, the social services, the government, the local mosques, the police…

      They’re assertions after reading about the case.
      The prior of “a cover-up involving pretty much all institutions of British society, over about 16 years–the local and national media, the social services, the government, the local mosques, the police” is extremely low, and also the probability after reading upon it remains extremely low. You would need far, far more evidence to make that probable, or even make it not extremely improbable.
      Some or many people in the local mosques, sure, some in the local police and government, yes. But all of that?
      And the chance that all, most or even a non-negligible proportion of the people who did engage in a cover up in the police, the local government, etc., did so with the intent of eradicating White people or making them a minority in the UK is again extremely low – sure, I reckon that intuitively, by means of using epistemic intuitions, which is the only way I would know how to make such assessments. Reading more on the case would not have a substantial impact on my assessment, just as reading more on the Moon Landing would not have much of an impact on my assessment that it was not a hoax. I would just apply my epistemic intuitions to more information, but it’s pretty clear to me that there would not be a substantial change, in either case.

  84. Sorry, the part

    It’s just too improbable. Again just these arrogant assertions.
    So it’s not happening. It’s just too improbable. Again just these arrogant assertions. On what basis do you know this? Some “intuitive” kind of “assessment” of what is and isn’t probable, in the absence of any detailed knowledge of the case. You should inform yourself before just asserting this. We’re talking here about a cover-up involving pretty much all institutions of British society, over about 16 years–the local and national media, the social services, the government, the local mosques, the police…

    Was a quotation of your post.
    And when I said “or to reduce the numbers.” I meant to reduce them to a minority.

  85. Thanks for articulating these ideas so well, Jacques. It really is a breath of fresh air in the intellectually sterile and cowardly world of academic philosophy. Seriously, is there any one out there in the academic philosophy world who sees the reality that Jacques is describing and recognizes that these are the fundamental moral and political issues of contemporary western civilization? Anyone? Anyone who even runs this supposedly “conservative” philosophy site? Or is literally every other philosopher a leftist moron, or an enabler of leftists such as Angra (who holds right-wing views to the strictest, highest epistemic and dialectical standards while casually accepting the default leftist views), or a “Christian philosopher” (content to focus on the abstruse metaphysics of homosexuality because he finds focusing on racial issues annoying and seemingly un-Christian)? Seriously guys, you know the whole entire tradition of western philosophy and all the cultures within which it occurred? They are all being literally destroyed right in front of your faces. Do you pay any attention to what’s going on in Europe? It’s being handed over to Arabs and Africans. The entire intellectual tradition that you have devoted your adult lives to understanding, teaching about, and participating in is being destroyed right in front of your faces. Is that not interesting enough to you? Is that not important enough? Is your paper on the semantics of counterfactual statements taking precedence?

    The entire moral-political framework of the modern western world is a disaster and desperately needs re-thinking at a fundamental level. Sounds like, I don’t know, the kind of thing philosophers might be interested in. But I guess not, because other than Jacques, there don’t seem to be any philosophers who can even come to grips with reality or be bothered to discuss it. Wow, what a worse-than-useless bunch of wankers.

    • Schopenhammer,
      Thank you. I guess there are two of us anyway. And I think there might be a few other people in philosophy who care. I’d guess maybe 1 in 1000 who don’t think counterfactual semantics or the numbers of female academics is an equally pressing concern. We’re fucked.

  86. Angra,
    You seem to be yet again just ignoring something I’ve now said in lots of different ways. I’ll say it again: My claim is not that ordinary people or even most people in the elites consciously aim to eradicate whites or hurt them or make them into a minority. I’m saying that people are brainwashed, that they operate within a social and mental world structured by anti-white aims of others, who do consciously intend to harm whites.

    So the following is, like so many of your earlier points, probably true but just irrelevant if “intent” means “conscious intent”:

    “the chance that all, most or even a non-negligible proportion of the people who did engage in a cover up in the police, the local government, etc., did so with the intent of eradicating White people or making them a minority in the UK is again extremely low”

    But if “intent” doesn’t have to be conscious at the individual level, it’s not so improbable given what we’re talking about. It’s quite probable, actually, that the inner logic or spirit of the whole system of institutions is anti-white.

    Please explain _exactly_ how it could happen otherwise that so many social workers and police and politicians and journalists over 16 years felt it was better to let 1400 white children be horrifically abused than to be called “prejudiced” or say something that might make immigrant savages look bad? Is there some explanation for that behavior–contrary to any normal human reaction, contrary to their most basic professional interests and duties–that doesn’t involve some kind of systemic bias working against the white victims and in favor of the non-white criminals? I can’t think of one. Certainly my explanation is not _so_ improbable that a reasonable person can just assert “It’s not happening”.

    “The prior of ‘a cover-up involving pretty much all institutions of British society, over about 16 years–the local and national media, the social services, the government, the local mosques, the police’ is extremely low…”

    And why is it low? Just another “epistemic intuition” or “assessment” of how things generally work in the world? Are you not aware that there have been many, many cases where institutions and authorities work together to cover up serious crimes?

    Don’t you think the regime in Nazi Germany worked to cover up the treatment of Jews? Or that the Soviet authorities and media and intellectuals worked to cover up the slave labor camps and mass killings? Or that the Israelis try to suppress certain facts about the treatment of Palestinians? You don’t think the Americans right now are covering up lots of stuff about their role in the middle east? Is it also “extremely” improbable that the US government is covering up information about the JFK assassination? And 9/11–it’s just extremely improbable that the official story is the result of high-level collusion to suppress some facts that the establishment doesn’t like?

    In Britain, the crimes of Jimmy Saville were kept from the public for decades. People in the entertainment world and staff in the NHS knew or suspected things. (Johnny Rotten talked about it in the 70s in a BBC interview, predicting that they’d delete his comments–which they did.) There’s really no plausible way to explain how Saville got away with it for so long–hundreds of victims, decades of abuse–without postulating a large-scale cover up involving high-level people in the NHS, the media, etc.

    Do you not notice that western media go to great lengths to suppress information about black and minority criminality? For example, at the same time that they were so busy making the Trayvon Martin thing into an international incident, there were many cases of _definitely_ innocent and defenseless whites murdered by blacks which never even made it into the national news. The victims names remain unknown to everyone but their friends and neighbors. And that was just a typical few weeks in the US. Do you not notice that the state regularly does things that seem to have just the same purpose, e.g., a 2012 DOJ “hate crimes” report that categorizes Hispanics as ‘white’ when they are perpetrators, inflating ‘white’ crime rates, but not when they are victims, inflating non-white victimization rates. (Just one example of many, many, many…)

    The Catholic church covered up child abuse over decades, often with the help of local governments and police and politicians. That’s not really controversial, is it?

    Or consider the financial crisis of 2008. It’s at least _probable_ at this point that the banks and state agencies and politicians worked together to deceive the public about the risks of their crazy affirmative action lending programs. This is a mainstream belief. You can find people saying this kind of thing in the NYT, in college classrooms.

    You must be very naive if you think that powerful people and organizations wouldn’t use their power to suppress information that could make them look bad or diminish their power or slow down their plans. It happens _all the time_ in every human society.

    Even considered just in the abstract, apart from the well-known cases where high-level cover-ups are likely or established beyond any reasonable doubt, the “prior” for that kind of thing should pretty high! It’s what you’d expect from human nature.

    “…and also the probability after reading upon it remains extremely low.”

    I wonder what you’ve been reading. But, again, I would like to know how it remains _extremely_ low even just _low_ given merely the fact that so many authorities and other people were apparently afraid to speak out for fear of being called “prejudiced” or “racist” or “Islamophobic”. The fact that even mass torture and abuse of children was widely understood to be a price worth paying in order not to say anything that might seem to put Pakistani savages in a bad light. Explain just that one incredible fact in some way that’s more plausible than the hypothesis of systemic anti-white and pro-non-white bias. I don’t think you can.

    Though I did retract some of my earlier moralistic claims about your approach, I have to come back to it at this point. What you are doing here is wrong. You’re working so hard to deny the obvious meaning of this horrific crime that you’re not even trying to uphold your own epistemic standards; you keep ignoring the plain meaning of what I’ve said, attacking claims I’ve repeatedly said are not my claims. You’re not simply being rational or thoughtful, as you seem to think. You’re trying to make something quite unreasonable seem not just reasonable but obvious. You’re obviously very smart, so must see my point about the irrelevance of most people’s conscious attitudes. Or maybe you didn’t read those earlier comments carefully–but then why not?

    You seem bent on denying that this profound societal problem exists. But if I’m right–or if it’s even not-so-improbable that I’m right–then what you’re doing here is not so different from the cover-up itself. Were your arguments to convince the average person, they’d end up comfortable and reassured that things are basically okay, that our institutions and authorities are basically trustworthy. They’d think the elites had nothing to answer for. And yet, if I’m right, it’s just those people that are mainly responsible. It’s wrong to encourage that complacent attitude, to help people excuse those who are quite likely responsible for something so evil, unless you really do have solid reasons for thinking I’m wrong. If your reasons aren’t so solid–if they’re not even directed to my real position–then you should say nothing and wait until you’ve digested the facts and interpretations. You shouldn’t be weighing in so smugly and confidently on the side of the establishment when–if you were to assess this with some charity and seriousness–there is a very real chance that you’re minimizing or just excusing a horrific systematic evil. It’s disrespectful to the victims. It’s disrespectful to the British people, especially the working classes who are most harmed by mass immigration and “diversity”. Or at least, it’s wrong unless you’re so deeply biased that you just can’t listen to what I’m saying. But I just don’t think that’s what’s going on here. You must understand the difference between the claim that most people consciously aim to harm whites and the claim that most people are conditioned to think and act in ways that harm whites (by other people who do consciously wish to harm whites). You must understand the idea that people can _be_ white, or like other white people, while simultaneously accepting an ideology that is anti-white (just as people can be black but “internalize” the white racism that supposedly structures their society).

    I’m sure you’re a decent person. I’m not trying to offend you. But you have to understand: for people like me, what you’re doing here is part of an existential threat to our kids and our societies and everything we love; so when it turns out that your reasons for saying all this patronizing dismissive stuff aren’t even particularly rational, aren’t even relevant to the argument I’m making, this is extremely offensive. This is no joke. It’s not just silly or “irrational”. Your approach makes it seem like you don’t take seriously these horrible things that are being done to our people all over the west. The rapes, murders, assaults, not to mention the less obvious things like cultural extinction. You don’t take this seriously enough to bother thinking through the issues with as much care and rigor as you devote to the comparatively trivial question of whether just maybe it would be “coherent” to say that Bruce Jenner is a woman. I don’t expect to convince you but you could show some appropriate seriousness.

  87. It’s also worth noting the perversity of caring about ‘the environment’ and demanding that other people care, while at the same time attacking the entire way of life that enables people to have families and communities and carry on their culture. Without fairly stable, simple, generally understood definitions of things like ‘man’, ‘woman’, ‘child’, ‘family’, ‘us’, ‘them’ — and lots of other things — you simply cannot have a functioning society in the long term. Ordinary people cannot make sense of their lives and roles and responsibilities if even this kind of thing is endlessly re-interpreted, contested, ‘problematized’, etc. They become atomized, insecure, avoidant, cowardly. Even the liberal sociologist Putnam admitted this was the meaning of his research on “diversity”. (That any research was considered necessary is itself a sign of degeneracy and weakness.) How could a man who doesn’t even know anymore what a man or a woman _is_ be expected to do what men, and only men, do in order to protect their women and children and people? Someone whose idea of a good man is something like ‘a feminist with a penis who is nice to immigrants and thinks some people with penises are women’. Someone like that is not going to do or even say anything when the immigrants rape the children of his own group. He’s not going even going to vote against the politicians who facilitated it. Can a society like that really do anything effectively? Can it be expected to do anything real about pollution or consumption or ‘global warming’?

    It’s ironic. The ‘environmentalists’ love to go on about how everything in the ecosystem is inter-dependent, how tampering with one element can throw the whole thing off-balance, how we shouldn’t be so arrogant to think we can control and manage nature, etc. And yet that’s _exactly_ the attitude that most of them have toward their own human ecosystem–even though that is not just an analogue of ‘the environment’ but just exactly the same thing manifested through human genes and human nature, and distinct cultures evolved over millenia as a result of those genes interacting with various highly specific ‘environments’. Exactly the same is true here: (1) We have no idea about the implications of deconstructing traditional understandings of man and woman, family, tribe, nation, etc. (2) All the parts are inter-dependent, so that ‘polluting’ one aspect of the culture tends to make other parts dirty and sick and dysfunctional. (3) We have no reason to expect that any one culture can survive introducing huge numbers of sub-species evolved in different places, with their own different gene-culture-ecosystem patterns. (4) We should therefore be highly careful, respectful of any settled traditions that seem to work well for most people most of the time, and only make changes after thinking long and hard about all the foreseeable costs and benefits. But instead we’re supposed to think that introducing foreign sub-species and deleting normal traditional beliefs about human life, one by one, is probably no big deal–hey, it seems to be okay-ish for now, and it makes some tiny minority feel better, or it might…

    People are so disordered now that they don’t even notice obvious contradictions. Our leaders tell us that people in Europe or the US or Canada should stop having babies, to save the oceans or whatever; at the same time, they tell us we need Third World immigrants into all these same countries because of our low birthrates. They tell us we should be so sad because polar bears are in trouble, or some weird frog in the Amazon is going extinct; then they tell us it’s just perfectly fine that white people and all the unique white ethnicities of Europe are going to be mixed with every other race and ethnicity on earth. And people just accept all of that.

    • Jacques,
      I don’t intend to continue this debate for long – as I explained –, but given your criticism of my reply, I will explain why I replied that way – it made perfect sense in the context of your claims -, and briefly my take on a couple of issues.
      Now you say “But if “intent” doesn’t have to be conscious at the individual level, it’s not so improbable given what we’re talking about.”.
      However, you did seem to be talking about a conscious attempt, at least in the case of elites, academia, and the media. Moreover, you even said:

      It’s just true that powerful people and groups work together to protect their interests, at the expense of other people, and that they often do that consciously and without telling the public what they really think or want. I mean, that’s human nature, isn’t it?

      And you made also what seem to be pretty clear statements regarding Jewish organizations, etc.
      To recap and further explain my position, I think that it may be well be that the many, perhaps most politically involved White leftists are in some respect (not in all) biased against White people. At least, many are so biased. And this may also be common among some elites and in academia, most of whose members are White leftists.
      On the other hand, it’s astronomically improbable that a significant portion White of people in government/business elites, academia or the media in (for example; that seems to be the case you mostly focus on) the UK are actually trying to (and of course, I’m talking about conscious behavior) eradicate White people, turn them into a minority, etc. Again, these are White people mostly, with White parents, children, siblings, espouses, etc.
      Even White people in the local police, local government, etc., involved in the cover up in the Rotherdam case, are not remotely likely to be involved in any of that. Motivations could range from money (if they’re on the take) to just keeping their jobs, not being accused of racism, etc.
      As for people in the local mosque who aren’t White, don’t have White families, and so on, the matter has to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis as usual, but one should not assume or say it’s probable that an anti-White plan like that is one of the or the motivation. It may well be that some or most or all were motivated by money, sex, fear of retribution, false belief in a religious duty, etc., or a combination of those without any eradication, etc., plan. Of course, the chances that some of them were in part trying to make Whites a minority at a local level are higher than in the case of White people involved in the cover-up, or even in the case non-Whites who also aren’t of the same religious and ethnic background as the perpetrators (but given what the actual actions involved, the chances seem slim in this particular case: While the fact that they didn’t care about people not in their group may well have helped the cover-up, that’s not the same as doing it to eradicate White people, or making them a minority even at a local level).
      In general, the matter has to be assessed as usual, case-by-case, rather than jumping to conclusions and making blanket statements about groups, which unjustly disparage many of their members.
      As for the morality of my actions, obviously I disagree. I also don’t think promoting several of the beliefs you promote is morally acceptable on your part – this is similar to what leftists usually do, only with different beliefs.
      And just one more point:

      They tell us we should be so sad because polar bears are in trouble, or some weird frog in the Amazon is going extinct; then they tell us it’s just perfectly fine that white people and all the unique white ethnicities of Europe are going to be mixed with every other race and ethnicity on earth.

      Of course it’s fine if that happens.
      I mean, if White people were forced to have sex with…well, anyone, that would be appalling (and yes, you have some cases for complaint here, though probably not racially motivated in most cases).
      But if people just choose their sexual partners and the end result is that in the future, eventually there are mixed races but not a White race (or not-race, but whatever), then that is perfectly fine. For that matter, it’s perfectly fine if, say, a few centuries from here, there are no human beings left, but instead genetically modified and technologically enhanced post-human cyborgs, much more intelligent than any human being, and who couldn’t care less about human races except as a historical curiosity.

    • Wow. it’s really no wonder the white race is being eliminated when nihilistic creeps like Angra are the “intellectuals”. There’s no point in arguing with this douche, Jacques. When Angra’s grand children are forced to pay the jizya, or convert or die, or are raped by Arabs who think that white infidels are put here as whores for their amusement, perhaps they can think back to how dear old grandpa always said “it’s a case-by-case basis and almost no one consciously intends to harm white people”.

  88. Schopenhammer,

    You are seriously mistaken about me, and your unjust accusations based on unwarranted beliefs about me are pretty good mirror images of similar mistakes made in left-wing circles, only of course they blame me for other thing. Of course, I know I will not convince you of that.

    By the way, I do not have any children, and I will not have any children, so obviously the same goes for grandchildren.

    • Angra, you seem fairly sincere and civil on here, so the “douche” label is probably inappropriate. But your methodology and attitudes do strike me as naïve, deluded, and nihilistic. (Yes, I know you disagree.) And, unlike you, Jacques and I think that there is an enormous amount at stake here. So, let’s just agree to disagree at this point.

  89. Schopenhammer,

    While I also think it’s better not to continue a debate (well, we agree on that!), I’d like to clarify a couple of things about my position (also, for potential readers), and what it is we seem to disagree (at least, based on what I’ve read here), and what it’s not.
    For example, I too think there is a lot at stake, on many issues, including racism and immigration.
    We don’t agree at all on several of them of course (e. g., anti-Black prejudice, for example), but we do on several others. For example, I think anti-White prejudice is a serious problem too (in the US and much of Western Europe, at least), and also I think massive illegal immigration to Europe from countries in the Middle East and Africa is also a serious problem, though I think this is a problem not because of the racial background of the immigrants, but because of their cultural background (including their religion, but not limited to that), which they tend to bring to Europe, making the overall situation situation in Europe worse – though, of course, this is not the case of every individual immigrant, even counting only illegal ones. It’s a general trend.
    We seem to disagree also on how much is at stake in the sense that I think it’s a lot, but you think it’s even a lot more, or in the best course of action to try to deal with it (though I think any course of action would be a long shot), but I still think there’s a lot at stake.
    In particular, I think that things could become much worse if things go on without any significant chances…then again, I think before that happens, the local population will likely increasingly support tighter immigration controls, which will likely slow things down at least for a while.
    In the longer run, technological developments (e. g., brain-computer interfaces, increasingly smart AI, genetic engineering) will bring about changes so massive that it’s very difficult to predict how things will go, in my assessment.

  90. Hi Angra. In this latest response I still find nothing that addresses my actual claims. You just say yet again that only a few people are (consciously) trying to harm whites, etc. For example:

    “it’s astronomically improbable that a significant portion White of people in government/business elites, academia or the media in (for example; that seems to be the case you mostly focus on) the UK are actually trying to (and of course, I’m talking about conscious behavior) eradicate White people, turn them into a minority, etc.”

    But I never said that a “significant” portion of whites are consciously trying to do that, and I’ve already explained a few times why I don’t think that’s necessary for my theory to be true (or probable). Likewise, I’ve already addressed more than once the obvious fact that “these are White people mostly, with White parents, children, siblings, spouses, etc.” You’re just repeating this as if it were some kind of problem for my position, ignoring my earlier explanations of this seemingly paradoxical situation.

    The only indication that you’ve thought about my real position is that you’re now trying to argue that, somehow, I did in fact imply that “significant” numbers of people in some areas of society are consciously trying to harm whites:

    “you did seem to be talking about a conscious attempt, at least in the case of elites, academia, and the media. Moreover, you even said:

    ‘It’s just true that powerful people and groups work together to protect their interests, at the expense of other people, and that they often do that consciously and without telling the public what they really think or want. I mean, that’s human nature, isn’t it?’

    And you made also what seem to be pretty clear statements regarding Jewish organizations, etc.”

    Well, try some charity here. Of course I said that powerful groups work together to protect their interests. Did I say that _all_ or _most_ or even _many_ of the individuals within those groups are consciously trying to harm whites? Maybe it’s only a very small minority at the highest levels of various institutions who are doing that. I don’t claim to know the details. I’m pretty sure there’s a range of motivations. All of that is compatible with what I’ve been saying. As for Jews and Jewish organizations, I think there are many powerful Jews who are consciously trying to harm us. This is very well documented. They often are pretty clear and explicit about it, and have been for most of the past century. Also it’s pretty clear that there is a lot of anti-white or anti-European or anti-gentile feeling across much of the Jewish diaspora. Again, read Kevin MacDonald and _then_ tell me how “extremely improbable” this is. But I never said that all or most Jews, or even most Jews working in Jewish organizations, are consciously trying to harm us. Of course the typical Jew-on-the-street may have no such conscious intentions, and many Jews are patriotic Americans or Brits or whatever. You’re attacking a straw man, again.

    You ignore my argument again here:

    “Even White people in the local police, local government, etc., involved in the cover up in the Rotherdam case, are not remotely likely to be involved in any of that. Motivations could range from money (if they’re on the take) to just keeping their jobs, not being accused of racism, etc.”

    So yes, again, THAT is unlikely. But we don’t need to speculate about motivations. It’s just a fact about this case that many of these people, over many years, WERE motivated by a fear of “being accused of racism”. They preferred to let 1400 white children (at least) be tortured and raped by immigrant savages for fear of “being accused of racism”. They ignored their professional duties and basic human decency so as not to make non-white savages look bad, so as not to appear to have “prejudice” regarding a non-white group. And my argument was this:

    P1: This behavior can be explained by the hypothesis that British society is based on systemic anti-white racism.
    P2: There is no other plausible explanation for this behavior.
    C: Probably, British society is based on systemic anti-white racism.

    You still haven’t tried to address this argument. (Nor have you addressed my argument that the “prior” regarding this kind of high-level corruption and conspiracy should be pretty high.)

    “In general, the matter has to be assessed as usual, case-by-case, rather than jumping to conclusions and making blanket statements about groups, which unjustly disparage many of their members.”

    But that’s exactly what I’ve been doing! I simply introduced some established facts about this particular case, and then offered an argument from the best explanation. I didn’t “jump to conclusions” but offered an argument for my conclusion, which you continue to just ignore or misrepresent. You are jumping to conclusions, repeatedly, when you keep attributing to me some view to the effect that most people or many people are consciously anti-white–and despite my repeated explanations of the very different view I’m proposing. I just have no idea what you’re talking about. What “blanket statements” are you talking about? My argument about Rotherham has as premises some very well established claims about how people behaved in a specific situation. Was it a “blanket statement” to say that the authorities tended to ignore the problem, minimize it, cover it up, punish victims and their families? Well, if it is then it’s just a true “blanket statement”. That is how the authorities tended to behave. (Have you read the government’s own reports on the case?) Your epistemic scolding is very ironic in this situation. You’re the one who appears to be unwilling to consider _this_ case in its specificity. Instead you just want to dismiss my position by appealing to some vague “intuition” about how people behave or how institutions behave or something like that. No. That will not work as a reply to the argument I’m making. You’re refusing to look at the details. Again, what is _your_ explanation of this very weird behavior of social workers, police, politicians, etc. that enables you to judge my theory “extremely improbable”? Unless you have some other explanation which is at least as plausible as mine, you’re just being weirdly dogmatic.

    “Of course it’s fine if that happens… For that matter, it’s perfectly fine if, say, a few centuries from here, there are no human beings left, but instead genetically modified and technologically enhanced post-human cyborgs, much more intelligent than any human being, and who couldn’t care less about human races except as a historical curiosity.”

    Here I feel like I’m talking to an early prototype. This at least makes it clear what’s really going on here. I care about my own race in part because I like humanity–even if we’re not as intelligent as some cyborg or conscious AI or whatever. My moral code is rooted in feelings of empathy and fellow feeling for others. (Maybe it’s important that you don’t have children and intend not to have any.) For me, it’s intrinsically good that we exist. And even if it weren’t intrinsically good, I’d want us–humans of all races–to go on existing in our own ways, just because I am human. For me there is great intrinsic value in the whole story of each human group over thousands of years; it would be a tragedy–though maybe only from our human point of view–if all those stories came to an end, and there was no one left to identify with them and carry them forward. You apparently view humanity from the standpoint of some kind of coldly objective space alien or robot. I don’t know. Maybe you just value intelligence? I have no idea how you could think it’s _obvious_ that this scenario is “perfectly fine”. Anyway I’m sure I couldn’t be convinced to agree with that. If this is at the basis of your seemingly cavalier attitude toward specific races and ethnic groups, the disagreement is completely intractable. We just fundamentally disagree about value.

    • Jacques,
      I’m trying to explain my position when you misrepresent it (not deliberately), but not to reply to many of your claims. I just don’t want to debate these things (too much time, too little prospect of any good coming out of it).
      Still, now I have to pick between addressing at least some of your latest points or letting your charges of uncharitableness, etc., stay unchallenged.
      So, here goes:

      Well, try some charity here. Of course I said that powerful groups work together to protect their interests. Did I say that _all_ or _most_ or even _many_ of the individuals within those groups are consciously trying to harm whites? Maybe it’s only a very small minority at the highest levels of various institutions who are doing that. I don’t claim to know the details. I’m pretty sure there’s a range of motivations. All of that is compatible with what I’ve been saying.

      As I can tell, you did seem to imply that a non-negligible proportion of people in certain groups were or at least may well have been deliberately doing that. For example, you said:

      I just can’t believe that our leaders and our whole society ended up settling on an objectively genocidal policy without malicious intent–at least in the upper levels of society. To some extent it may also be explained by sheer greed. Wealthy corporate types want to demolish the white west because it stands in the way of their plans.

      The first sentence in the passage I just quotes clearly indicates you believe that in the upper levels of society at least, there was malice in choosing an anti-White genocidal policy, and the people with the malicious intent were maybe not all, but surely influential enough to actually bring about that policy, even if others who engage in it do not do so deliberately.
      The last sentence part is a general claim about “wealthy corporate types”. It may not be about every single one of them, but it’s not about a very small minority of the already small minority “wealthy corporate types” – at least, that would not be a fair interpretation of your words.

      As for Jews and Jewish organizations, I think there are many powerful Jews who are consciously trying to harm us. This is very well documented. They often are pretty clear and explicit about it, and have been for most of the past century. Also it’s pretty clear that there is a lot of anti-white or anti-European or anti-gentile feeling across much of the Jewish diaspora.

      Well, they are White (most of them, anyway).
      Also, in any case, there is a big difference between anti-gentile and anti-White bias: anti-Gentile is anti-everyone not Jewish, not against non-Jewish Whites in particular. Moreover, even such bias – which some Jews do have, but I don’t think it is so widespread – would not make an attempt at anti-non-Jewish-White genocide less than extremely improbable.
      In fact, a plan like that would be predictably devastating for Jews and Jewish institutions at large, if successful. For example, there are plenty of people who actually do hate Israel and also Jews, celebrate their mass-murderers, and some are among those are mass-murderers (a small minority of a huge number of people can still be a lot of people).
      For example, if – say – massive immigration to Europe from places like the Middle East accelerates and that results in much greater influence from the immigrants and their descendants of similar culture (including religion), that’s an overall disaster for Jews, who had in Europe a place where they could live more or less in peace, in spite of some right-wing Nazi sympathizers without much power. Now, the people who hate them are overall much more probable to take lethal action, and that’s only getting worse. Again, accelerating them would be very, very bad for Jews.
      Moreover, support for Israel from non-Jews comes almost entirely from the West, and the main threat comes from the same region from which massive immigration to Europe is a serious threat to the West.
      Now, I can’t rule out some Jewish nutjobs (there are nutjobs everywhere), but while there are institutions that favor what they perceive as Jewish interests, there is no way they would have the goal of doing something like destroying the West.
      Also, Judaism, unlike Islam and Christianity, does not promote proselytism. In fact, in nearly all cases, it discourages them. So, increasing significantly the number of Jews by means of conversions would be a non-starter. And while some Jewish organizations can promote increasing the numbers of Jews by having children and raise them as Jews, most intelligent people in them are bound to realize that there is no way they can match the numbers of those who hate them in the places of origin of those immigrants, or their descendants in Europe. At most, they can try to fight against demographics in Israel, or things like that in local settings in some places. But an anti-Western plan would be a plan that would be objectively strongly against Zionism and/or any perceived Jewish interests, and more importantly against Jews.
      So, even assuming for the sake of the argument that the people with vast influence within some powerful Jewish organizations hate all Gentiles including most or all non—Jewish Whites, I reckon it’s very likely that most will realize where the threat to them comes from. Even if the West is one of the many non-Jewish things they hate, it’s the one that is most beneficial to them, by far.

      Here I feel like I’m talking to an early prototype. This at least makes it clear what’s really going on here. I care about my own race in part because I like humanity–even if we’re not as intelligent as some cyborg or conscious AI or whatever. My moral code is rooted in feelings of empathy and fellow feeling for others. (Maybe it’s important that you don’t have children and intend not to have any.) For me, it’s intrinsically good that we exist. And even if it weren’t intrinsically good, I’d want us–humans of all races–to go on existing in our own ways, just because I am human. For me there is great intrinsic value in the whole story of each human group over thousands of years; it would be a tragedy–though maybe only from our human point of view–if all those stories came to an end, and there was no one left to identify with them and carry them forward. You apparently view humanity from the standpoint of some kind of coldly objective space alien or robot. I don’t know. Maybe you just value intelligence? I have no idea how you could think it’s _obvious_ that this scenario is “perfectly fine”. Anyway I’m sure I couldn’t be convinced to agree with that. If this is at the basis of your seemingly cavalier attitude toward specific races and ethnic groups, the disagreement is completely intractable. We just fundamentally disagree about value.

      I see I wasn’t clear enough.
      I said it was okay if there was no longer a White race (well, actually, there isn’t and never was a White race. It’s Caucasian) and instead mixed races remained, as long as it happened in certain ways, not in others. As an example, I said if people just choose their sexual partners and the end result is that in the future, eventually there are mixed races but not a White race (or not-race, but whatever), then that is perfectly fine.
      In that context, I said it’s perfectly fine if, say, a few centuries from here, there are no human beings left, but instead genetically modified and technologically enhanced post-human cyborgs, far more intelligent than any human being, and who couldn’t care less about human races except as a historical curiosity.
      But I did not mean that that result was perfectly fine however it happened, or that any variants of that scenario are perfectly fine. For example, I’m not talking about people being forced into that. That would not be fine.
      But let’s say that in the future, as technology advances, there are brain-computer interfaces that people use willingly, genetic engineering that results of also intentional enhancements, etc.
      Eventually, by means of integration with increasingly advanced AI and genetic changes, people are cyborgs much more intelligent than humans. They may be interested in human races, but not that much – it’s not their race; they do not have a race. Well, there might be different variants, and if they are as violently tribal as humans are, that’s a bad thing. It’s better if they fix it.
      On the other hand, if humanity just became extinct leaving no descendants, I think that would be a very bad thing. We are the only moral species, at least in our corner of the universe (and I would say, likely in a huge chunk of it at least). But the cyborgs I have in mind are moral beings too: they’re keeping many of the good things of humanity.
      By the way, it seems to me that when you think about the long term future, and you’re worried because of non-White immigration to Europe, etc., the White (non)race mixing with other (races or not, etc.), you’re not factoring in that also in the long run (maybe somewhat longer, but not like millions of years), and regardless of whether the races or non-races mix, genetic engineering, integration with machines, etc., are all plausible outcomes. You do not seem to focus on them at all. I’m not sure why. Do you think that things that the end of human races because humans evolve into some post-human entities is so remote?

  91. Incidentally, the Scottish government paid for this racist filth:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lt1umirFdY4

    The meaning is pretty clear: Scotland is an evil, shameful country in virtue of being white. Non-whites should be angry–violently angry–about the fact that Scotland is white, its history is white, its culture is white, its heroes are white, etc.

    Watch and listen carefully. Consider the tone, the vibe. To me, this might as well be saying “It’s fucking awesome to beat up white people”. The kind of person who would create this or enjoy this is harboring some very serious, very real racial hatred. This is no fucking joke.

    So how does this kind of filth get funded by the government? How does the filth make its way through the whole political-cultural system? I would be very interested to hear any explanation that doesn’t involve systemic racial hatred of white people. How does a government subsidize this without any intent to incite racial hatred and violence against whites, simply for being white, against Scotland simply for being Scotland? My intuitive epistemic assessment is that such a thing is extremely improbable.

    And why is it that we can’t even imagine the Scottish government producing some similar thing about the murder of Kriss Donald, for example? It’s easy to think of how it might go. Read about the murder and let your natural feelings run free for a moment. What would you like to do to the murderers? How does it make you feel about the vibrant diverse newcomers in Scotland? How would you feel about them if you were a (real) Scot? It’s easy to think what the video could be like. But why is it that nothing even remotely like that would ever get produced–or, if it did, the Scottish government would have the producers in court and probably in prison on charges of inciting racial hatred or whatever?

    I really don’t think there’s any explanation other than systemic anti-white racism. Does anyone have any other explanation? I think people don’t like to think about this and resist the correct rational conclusion because it’s quite uncomfortable for them. (And why is it so uncomfortable?)

    So far I’ve mentioned two cases. I could mention three, five, seventeen, fifty, three hundred and forty two… At some point these cases begin to indicate a certain familiar pattern. It becomes reasonable to think that a purely “case by case” approach is no longer reasonable or necessary. But maybe I’m not intelligent enough. Or maybe I’m biased as a result of having certain human feelings that far more intelligent cyborgs will not have.

    • It’s funny; I was going to post a link to that very video here earlier because it’s just such a perfect illustration of the genuinely absurd, surreal level of anti-white hatred that is sanctioned and accepted by white civilization. And instead of recognizing this, and recognizing that this is incredibly harmful to whites psychically, emotionally, and culturally, and recognizing that this is _obviously_ heading towards tremendous levels of physical violence against whites (in addition to the violence that is already occurring), and recognizing that the degree of open, vehement hatred for whites is actually _increasing_ proportional to the degree of acceptance and groveling from whites, what we’ll get from the philosophers is just excuses, tortured explanations for why this kind of thing is actually justified, or claims about how most people don’t really feel this way, or whatever. Of course, the double-standard here is staggering. If anything remotely like this were produced about non-whites, the entire academic world would be aghast. But again, let’s all keep pretending (or whatever it these academic losers and cowards do in their own minds) and quickly move on to talk about important things like whether material objects perdure or endure. Because, hey, it’s not about race anyway, right? It’s just _culture_. And once we reach sufficiently extreme levels of groveling and self-flagellation, and once enough whites are sacrificed, murdered, raped, degraded, treated like sub-human scum, or “inbred spawn” (as the black guy in the video says), then the blacks who replace us in our own countries will probably start doing kick-ass analytic metaphysics, right?

    • Jacques,
      If by “intent” you mean conscious intent, I don’t see any good reason to suspect that from the government. It would be a different matter if there were direct statements from the administration, or things like that.
      But if you meant something else – whatever that is – again, I do think that anti-White racism is a serious problem, as I said repeatedly.

  92. This is slightly better than earlier, but not much. Yes, I did say something like this: “a non-negligible proportion of people in certain groups were or at least may well have been deliberately doing that”. I didn’t specify the groups precisely, beyond referring to “elites” or, often, some members of elite groups. Who are the elites? For all you know I had in mind 1% of the top 1% in certain powerful factions of society. I was being deliberately loose because, of course, I don’t know the details; instead I just think it’s very unlikely that all this anti-white stuff is happening without any kind of conscious intent on the part of anyone in power. Against my position, however, you repeatedly say things like the following:

    “Even White people in the local police, local government, etc., involved in the cover up in the Rotherdam case, are not remotely likely to be involved in any of that. Motivations could range from money (if they’re on the take) to just keeping their jobs, not being accused of racism, etc.”

    Saying that some “non-negligible proportion of people” in some unspecified elite or part of the elite are doing it on purpose is obviously compatible with your (reasonable) claim that these ordinary people are unlikely to be “involved in any of that”.

    Likewise, yes, I “believe that in the upper levels of society at least, there was malice in choosing an anti-White genocidal policy … even if others who engage in it do not do so deliberately.” But throughout this discussion you’ve been pointing out, again and again, that “most” white people don’t consciously intend to harm whites, etc. As if that were some kind of objection to what I said–the belief you correctly ascribe to me in this quotation, for example. But it’s obviously irrelevant. Again, even if you could convince me that 70% of elite humanities academics or corporate people have no conscious anti-white beliefs–I’d be pretty surprised, especially in the case of academics–that wouldn’t really be relevant. What are the “upper levels of society”? I wasn’t very precise, since I don’t claim to know where exactly the conscious intentions are localized. Maybe it’s at the level of the inner circle of the Rothschilds and Rockefellers. Or maybe those people are just pawns of some more mysterious groups. I don’t know. But it’s reasonable for me to believe that there is some kind of upper level or elite conscious intention somewhere up there.

    Yet again you seem to badly misunderstand my points about Jewish influence, ignoring things I’ve already said:

    “Well, they are White (most of them, anyway).”

    As I’ve said, that is true _in a sense_ but not relevant because (1) there are ethnic-racial differences between Jews and other European ancestral groups (which I’m happy to call ‘races’, or something else if you prefer) and (2) Jews are aware of these differences and tend to identify with other Jews rather than ‘whites’ in general and hence (3) often identify _whites_ as a hostile, rival group (except when it’s advantageous to switch to a generic white identity). When Sontag called ‘the white race’ a ‘cancer’ I don’t think she was referring to herself or her family. When Jewish organizations work so hard to combat ‘racism’ and ‘anti-semitism’, they are not thinking of themselves as ‘whites’, or just generic ‘whites’. For all real world purposes, Jews in the west are not ‘white’ because they themselves tend to conceive of whites–e.g., other, more purely Indo-European ethnic groups–as Others. No doubt you’ll seize on this and start quibbling: what percentage of Jews think this way, and do they think that way consciously on Tuesdays, etc. The obvious fact is that this is a notable and enduring trend among influential Jewish thinkers and movements in the west. READ MACDONALD for God’s sake. Educate yourself. You seem to be at the kindergarten level on the Jewish Question. All the arguments you’re putting forward here have been conclusively refuted many times–a few of them have already been set aside in this thread, if you’d bother reading what I wrote with a little charity.

    “Also, in any case, there is a big difference between anti-gentile and anti-White bias: anti-Gentile is anti-everyone not Jewish, not against non-Jewish Whites in particular.”

    Yes, yes, of course. More quibbling. You must be aware that _in the west_ and for at least the last several decades Jewish anxieties about gentiles are mainly anxieties about racial consciousness and political representation in non-Jewish whites. They’re afraid of another Hitler, etc. Anyway, a general negative attitude towards non-Jews, white or not, implies a negative attitude toward non-Jewish whites in particular. Which is exactly what we find, over and over, in influential Jewish thinkers and movements in the west. So this is just hair-splitting.

    “Moreover, even such bias – which some Jews do have, but I don’t think it is so widespread – would not make an attempt at anti-non-Jewish-White genocide less than extremely improbable.
    In fact, a plan like that would be predictably devastating for Jews and Jewish institutions at large, if successful.”

    I don’t care what you just “think” without apparently having read Kevin MacDonald or any other serious researchers on the topic–at least you make no effort to rebut or even mention his evidence. You’re right that white genocide or reducing whites to minorities would probably be bad for Jews in the long run. So what? People often consciously try to do things that aren’t really in their own best interests. Given the massive evidence of Jewish antipathy to (non-Jewish, European) white people and cultures, it could be that many powerful Jews are so blinded by their own irrational fears and hatreds–a Nazi under every bed–that they are pursuing policies that will be worse for them than their perceived enemies. This whole line of argument is very weak given that you’re judgment of “extreme” improbability seems to be based on just ignoring the evidence of Jewish behavior. Why do you think that virtually every single Jewish organization pushes hard for Muslim immigration? That too seems to be disastrous for Jews. And yet they almost all do it, and devote enormous effort to demonizing anyone who resists it.

    “So, even assuming for the sake of the argument that the people with vast influence within some powerful Jewish organizations hate all Gentiles including most or all non—Jewish Whites, I reckon it’s very likely that most will realize where the threat to them comes from. Even if the West is one of the many non-Jewish things they hate, it’s the one that is most beneficial to them, by far.”

    This is actually somewhat plausible. I have some faint hope that eventually powerful Jews will turn off the propaganda and immigration because they realize it’s starting to turn against them–especially since most hostile non-whites do not distinguish between Jews and other ‘whites’, or else they think Jews are the very worst whites of all. But this has no bearing on anything I’ve been arguing. It does nothing to suggest that my theory is “extremely improbable”.

    You “see no reason” for my claims about the government’s intentions, you say. What about the argument I offered several times above, the inference to the best explanation? You’ve said nothing about it, offered no alternative explanation. What about that Scottish video? Still not even a “reason” because, apparently, there was no explicit statement from “the administration”. Give me a break. It’s not enough that the state pays for racist hate propaganda depicting whites, as whites, as scum who deserve violence; they have to actually say “We intend to harm whites” or something? That would be “extremely improbable” if my theory were true, or under any circumstances. In any case I have offered quite a few reasons, and for the most part you’ve either badly misunderstood them or simply ignored them. “I see no reason for believing p” is not an acceptable reply to a series of argument for p. Not if you care as much about reasoning and “civil debate” as you claim.

  93. Jacques,

    As I repeatedly said, I was not interested in another long debate. I’ve been addressing only some of your claims about race, and mostly in the recent part of the exchange just to defend my posts from misconstruction.
    But this has taken far too long, and it’s in any case far too hostile at this point to be productive in any way.

  94. You repeatedly said that and then repeatedly said many other things, almost none of which were fair responses to anything I’d been saying. It was “another long debate” after all, but for some reason you have yet to offer any explanation for the fact that British authorities were more afraid of being considered “prejudiced” against immigrant child rapists than they were concerned for the well-being of 1400 white children. Maybe you think there’s no need to explain that astounding fact. I guess we’ll never know.

    I’m not particularly hostile. Just frustrated and demoralized. My sense is that no amount of evidence or reasoning can make any difference on this topic. An event like Rotherham, or the careful orchestration of Ferguson and other fake stories about white racism, or that insane video from Scotland… These things have a pretty clear meaning that any normal person should be able to grasp instinctively. It’s not something that should need to be debated. And even things that are more debatable, such as the role of the Jewish community, have already been extensively documented. But most people will not read the research.

    During the first phase of this discussion it was clear to me I was dealing with a very intelligent and knowledgeable opponent. I don’t usually have to work that hard to defend things that seem pretty obvious to me! And I felt you made a number of very interesting and forceful arguments. I’m now re-thinking some of these issues, and–who knows?–maybe I will actually change my mind. I do feel inclined now to doubt, at least, that some version of the trans ideology is coherent. Instead I’m tempted to say that some versions are necessarily false and others are just empirically very improbable. Not sure. But then I wonder what is the _point_ of being so smart, or talking with other people who are probably smarter than I am? Given the state of the world, it doesn’t matter much what I believe about semantics. Even the damage I think the trans thing is causing is ultimately not so catastrophic in itself, in the grand scheme of things. But now, in this later phase, we’re talking about the destruction of a great and irreplaceable civilization, maybe the greatest ever, and the slow extinction of an irreplaceable world-historical group of peoples–and here is this highly intelligent person ignoring arguments and evidence that really matter. Telling me not to “jump to conclusions” without addressing the premises I used to reach those conclusions, ignoring what I said and attacking other things that I never said, refusing to engage with reasoning that–if at all plausible–has these life and death consequences for millions of people. So what’s the point? I just don’t care very much in the end about word meanings or the precise relation of water and H2O. I care very much about my physical well-being and freedom, about having a place where I am at home, where my children can be proud of themselves and their history. A civilized place where hostile aliens and criminals and savages are not welcome. You hope to be replaced by super-intelligent cyborgs. I’m starting to think it would be better to be replaced by less intelligent people with healthy instincts. People who can recognize a lethal threat and get together to protect themselves. Less intelligent (or “intelligent”) people would just tell that ranting deranged black guy to go home if he hates Scotland so much. They’d hate him just as much as he hates them. (Or almost as much. Not sure anyone could match the deranged cosmic levels of hate in that video.) They’d kick him out, and they’d kick out the traitors who brought him into their land. They’d live. Their people would live, and their country would live.

    • Jacques,
      I was trying to leave in a way that does not result in a misunderstanding of my position – by you or readers -, but this is getting difficult for me. Let me try again:
      I do not hope to be replaced by super-intelligent cyborgs. I’m saying that if, a few centuries in the future, there were no humans by super-intelligent cyborgs, that would be okay – i. e., that, on its own, would not be a bad thing.
      I do believe that if humans were, say, killed and replaced by such beings, that would be a very bad thing. But the existence of super-intelligent cyborgs instead of humans in a few centuries is not, on its own, a bad thing. I can give more details than I have:
      A potential scenario would be:
      In the future, as technology advances, there are brain-computer interfaces that people use willingly, genetic engineering that results of also intentional enhancements, etc. Now, there are trade-offs in genetics, and other factors that limit enhancement. But still, there are places where there is considerable that can be done to make things better (not just removing the blind spot on our visual system), and that’s leaving aside integration with computers.
      So, by genetic engineering, people get to live longer (and in better shape), be more intelligent, generally healthier, and so on.
      Additionally, computer-brain interfaces allow people to communicate with computers – and each other – using their thoughts (i. e., without having to speak). But then, AI can do some cognitive tasks much better than humans or even GM-humans with considerably increased intelligence can, and so some people (and then some more) choose to use an interface by which a computer does some of the work, and then the answer appears to them consciously (e. g., they think 287476*12313, and then “3539691988” comes to their conscious attention almost immediately; more and more complex tasks are added).
      Then, those people introduce more genetic modifications and new computer integration, also willingly. Given a few centuries (if not, then it could be a few millennia, but it can be faster), the resulting people could be super-intelligent and largely genetically engineered cyborgs, in many ways very different from human beings.
      That would not be a bad thing, in my assessment, but it’s not the case that I hope that that happens, or that it’s the only result that it’s not a bad thing. I don’t hope it happens. And I don’t hope it does not happen (I do hope that if it does happen, they fix the violent and in my view often irrational human tribalism, as otherwise the consequences could be even worse than they are today, given their resources).
      Another outcome that I think would be okay would be that – say – in the future there are such cyborgs, but also human beings, coexisting, as a result of different people making different choices (I. e., some choose integration with machines, others do not).
      Another thing that would be okay in my assessment would be something like: super-intelligent AI is invented, the AI is friendly, humans have generally better lives but do not integrate with cyborgs and only some genetic engineering is done, in order to make people healthier and live longer, and nothing much changes. And that’s okay, regardless of whether the different races (of which “White” is not one) mix or not.
      In fact, there are plenty of outcomes I think would be okay, and plenty of paths to those outcomes that would be okay, but it’s not the case that I hope for any specific one of them.
      Of course, I also think there are plenty of bad outcomes, plenty of bath paths, and even situations in which the path is terrible and hopefully will not happen, even if the end result would not be bad on its own.
      In particular, I don’t think that if races mix as a result of people’s choices and there is no White race in the future – well, there already isn’t, as there never was, but assuming it’s a race -, that would be bad. And the same applies to any other existing race.
      And we use the word “race” for each European ancestral group, then I also do not think it’s bad if they mix with one another, to the point that there is no difference between them (I’m not sure you would consider this bad), but I also don’t think it’s bad if they mix with Jews (well, actually, there are different Jewish groups, but any of them), or with Han Chinese, Japanese or Black people.
      On the other hand, I do think that it would be bad if – say – Islam becomes the predominant religion in Europe, if Sharia Law ends up being the law of the land (and not just for a minority or a few issues), and so on.
      Hopefully, that clarifies my views on those potential future outcomes sufficiently, to you or potential readers.
      There are things I would actually agree with you, though. You say “I care very much about my physical well-being and freedom, about having a place where I am at home, where my children can be proud of themselves and their history. A civilized place where hostile aliens and criminals and savages are not welcome.”
      Sure, I care about that too. And I also think – if you’ve been reading – that you have a number of legitimate grievances here. But I disagree on other points you make, as I pointed out.
      As for your specific arguments about race, Jews, etc., I did not address a number of them because I did not and do not want to debate these matters. That’s partly because this is not promising (our respective epistemic intuitions on the matter seem too far apart; arguments that you consider good and forceful just do not seem to me to provide any significant amount of evidence as far as I can tell), and partly because my vacation is over and I have much less time left on my hands, so this is becoming too time-consuming.
      But I did address also some of your arguments, in my assessment sufficiently, even though of course you do not think so. For example, most in the Western political elites are White, have White parents, children, siblings, spouses, etc. Most of them wouldn’t engage in a genocidal anti-White plan. That argument regarding families, friends, etc., was not meant to apply to most of the population in general only, but to most of the members of the elites as well (but since you don’t consider Jews as White, then at least to the non-Jewish members of government elites, or business elites; I also made a separate case for Jewish elites). But frankly, even without pointing out that they have White loved ones, etc., their behavior – when considered as a whole, not only specific actions – does not seem remotely intended at any White genocide, by my lights. That seems just obvious to me. But again, I take it you strongly disagree, and maybe you will now reply to this with yet another argument. But this seems to me like an example of my point that your epistemic intuitions and mine simply seem too far apart on these matters to make any progress.
      Thank you for the part about being a “very intelligent and knowledgeable opponent”, though, and likewise. Perhaps, I can suggest a place where you can find a more intelligent and considerably more knowledgeable opponent if you want, with the added bonus that he’s in the West (I don’t think I’m in a country you’d consider Western, though I would need more info): He posts in a forum called “talkfreethought” by the name “Bomb#20”. Most of the time, he’s arguing against claims and arguments made by leftists (who make up the vast majority of people there), and they think he’s a right-winger, but in reality, he’s neither leftist nor rightist, and he might be willing to debate you on the points on which he disagrees with you. Moreover, he knows a lot more about human races than I do. I can’t guarantee that he’ll engage with the claims of yours he disagrees with (not all of them, I’m sure), but I’m sure that if he does decide to engage, he will read your arguments carefully, and challenge them better than I could. Then again, you would have to endure a good number of very weak opponents and be careful with the moderation, so perhaps that’s not for you; what do I know? But still, if you’re interested in trying to persuade someone, I can’t think of a stronger opponent (or generally, interlocutor).

  95. Angra,
    If I misunderstood your nuanced views about future cyborgs, I apologize. It never seemed to me that this was a central point of disagreement, and I never tried to dispute your views about _that_ in a serious way. Apparently you’re very concerned to make your views on that topic more clear. Okay. I think I understand, and I don’t have any strong opinions on most of this. Whatever the correct position might be, it doesn’t matter much for us here and now.

    the other hand, I have repeatedly raised a number of points about the most basic and important questions we’ve been talking about. The vast majority of these comments have been focused on the questions like these: (1) Are whites (or ‘ethnic’ Europeans) suicidal and nihilistic? (2) Do they think and act in ways that will lead to their extinction or, at least, reduction to powerless and hated minorities? (3) If the answer to question 1 or 2 is yes, is there some kind of ‘conspiracy’ aimed at harming whites? And I’ve been arguing for what you call a ‘conspiracy’ theory. Specifically, I’ve offered an inference to the best explanation. It’s very simple and clear. Someone with your high IQ and a little knowledge of human nature can easily grasp the point. Again, it goes like this:

    P1: An anti-white ‘conspiracy’ would explain the fact that British authorities preferred to let 1400 white children be raped, tortured and prostituted for over a decade rather than face (absurd) accusations of “prejudice”, “racism”, etc.
    P2: There is no other plausible explanation for that fact.
    C: Probably, there is an anti-white ‘conspiracy’.

    I’ve asked many times for you to address this argument, offer some other explanation. You’ve said nothing about this, even though it was the central point of at least four or five comments of mine. And I’ve also responded, several times, to the arguments you’re saying are sufficient to make my ‘conspiracy’ theory seem implausible–e.g., that most Leftists and other people in the west are themselves white. I’m not sure how you consider these arguments sufficient without addressing what I said against them–e.g., that people are conditioned to care for themselves and their loved ones as individuals or this or that but never _as_ whites, and conditioned to have a deeply negative view of whites _as_ whites. Regarding Jewish influence, I’ve replied several times to the initially plausible but irrelevant point that Jews are themselves “white”, that probably most Jews are not consciously anti-white, etc. But you say nothing about my replies or, for that matter, my request that you consider MacDonald’s _massive_ evidence of conscious anti-white activism among elite Jews in the west.

    So while you may have replied to _some_ of my arguments, what you’ve been doing is this: (i) you’ve repeated, over and over, objections that you made very early on in the discussion against some of my initial arguments (and based on interpretations of these that I’ve already disputed many times) while (ii) ignoring the arguments that I clearly take to be the most important and compelling, and (iii) ignoring my replies to each of the objections you are still citing even now.

    I’m not offering “yet another argument”. I’m saying again that the most obvious and important arguments I made days ago have still gone totally unanswered. I mean, I do have other arguments but I don’t see how you could consider this a fair reasonable debate when you simply ignore the ones I’ve explicitly marked as the most important ones. Either we are debating the ‘conspiracy’ theory or we aren’t. Either we were, or we weren’t. It’s not legitimate to keep rehearsing points I’ve already addressed, several times, as if the debate were ongoing, while rejecting any obligation to address my most important arguments and evidence because you’re just not interested in the discussion, too busy, etc. And you’ve been doing _that_ for a long time now! Telling me you don’t want to continue, and in the same comment presenting one or more of these objections I’ve already addressed while ignoring what I said about it.

    This wouldn’t mean much, I guess, if you really didn’t want to keep going. Maybe you don’t have time to read what I’ve been saying carefully. Or if you really were just not interested enough to attempt a refutation of my ‘conspiracy’. And yet you clearly do have enough time and motivation to write (and write, and write, and write…) about all kinds of things having nothing much to do with the main topic. So you should be able to address my real position or reasoning on its own terms, taking into account what I’ve been saying since the very first of your objections to my ‘conspiracy’ theory.

    Anyway, I don’t want to pressure you to keep going. I’ve said more than enough. I think I’ve given some pretty strong arguments for my ‘conspiracy’ theory. If there are any readers of this thread, they can ask themselves what better explanation there could be for the horrible bizarre behavior of the British authorities. They can read MacDonald for themselves, if they’re interested. They can decide whether it is really “extremely improbable” that there is a ‘conspiracy’. Maybe we’ll talk again sometime about cyborgs or non-female women or other topics you find more interesting and productive. I say that without hostility. I do like to argue about things like that. I’m just disappointed that, as almost always happens, the quality of philosophical debate is abysmal as soon as we turn to slightly more important things like the death of western civilization.

  96. Oh. A little qualification. I wrote that last comment kind of quickly, without checking the earlier formulation of my inference to the best explanation. Originally the explanation I was offering as a conclusion was that British society is based on systemic anti-white racism. And that’s weaker than the one I offered in my last comment–that there’s an anti-white ‘conspiracy’.

    So, to be clear, I do think the argument is good in either of these versions, but my main point throughout has been that even the weaker version hasn’t been addressed. And if the weak version is correct, the things I’ve been claiming (including the ‘conspiracy theory’) are not “extremely improbable”. It’s really the more modest argument I’d like Angra or someone–anyone!–to try to refute. If it holds up, we can then move on to assessing the more extreme claim that there is a ‘conspiracy’. Which is at least plausible if we find that a white country Britain, for example, has adopted systematic anti-white ideology as its cultural and political basis.

  97. For example, more than half of your last comment seems to be an attempt to clarify some misunderstanding of your views about trans-humanism, or whatever, in this one passing comment of mine toward the very end of a post that was clearly _not about that_ In passing I said “You hope to be replaced by super-intelligent cyborgs” and then, even there, I was obviously making a point _not_ about the moral implications of cyborgs, etc. but rather about the deadly threats to Scotland and other white countries, and your refusal to engage with my position.

    And yet that–cyborgs, genetic engineering, neural interfaces!–is what you wanted to talk about in such depth. I don’t think any sensible person reading this very long exchange could come away with the impression that I care much about that topic, or that I’ve really been trying to figure exactly what you think about it, or that I’ve offered any serious arguments against your views, or that it’s even particularly important what anyone thinks about this, in a discussion that’s been almost entirely about actual racial-cultural geopolitics right now… What the hell?

    • Jacques,

      I do and did understand that nearly all of your comment was not about trans-humanism or cyborgs, etc., and you care much more about other things (I’m not sure why, given that you seem to value so much the preservation of present-day races, sub-races, etc., but that aside). As I said, for a number of reasons (and I’m leaving the “hostility” one aside after your reply on the subject, but there are other reasons, as I mentioned) I would rather not continue to debate them (I never wanted to, in the first place).
      Now, I do think bringing up cyborgs and the like was relevant, given your point about the value of preserving the present-day races, sub-races, or whatever, as they are in the present, or something like that. But the comment you’re replying to wasn’t about that, either, since I’d rather not continue debating the subject.

      Rather, I care enough about whether you and potential readers misunderstand my positions to write a sufficient clarification on them – it’s not so long, either, but I think it’s sufficient.

      So, I was not trying to debate cyborgs in the post you’re replying to. I was trying to clarify my views, and hopefully prevent or reduce at least the chances of misunderstandings of them – and again, that was not to promote any sort of point about cyborgs, AI, or whatever. It was about not being misunderstood.

  98. I will look up this Bomb#20 guy. Thanks for the recommendation. But I don’t think anyone needs to know anything much about human races–biology or evolution or whatever–in order to appreciate what I’m saying. Most of my arguments would work (I think) even if we were very wrong about all of that, or even if typical Leftist/race-denialist views were correct. My position doesn’t depend on some specific theory about the heritability of IQ or genotypes or clines or anything like that! It depends only on the obvious fact that there are big groups of people who have a lot of ancestors in common, more commonality than they share with many other big groups, and these big groups often have deep cultural and historical and communal identities that matter to them…

    • Jacques,

      I think your position depends on more than that, but I don’t want to start a debate about that, so I’ll just say that it’s also important to some of your points which the big groups actually are, and what the differences and coincidences between them are (I think you might agree with that), and he knows more about that than I do.

  99. So no more debate, but you’ll “just say” something contentious that I deny. Okay. Here some things I just want to say…

    I agree that some of my claims depend on very obvious facts about racial differences. Blacks are less intelligent, less inhibited and law-abiding on average than whites. Arabs are more tribal and violent on average than Europeans. North Asians are at least as intelligent in at least some respects, and also more clannish and less creative, etc. We’re not going to see many Jewish NBA stars or Mayan physicists anytime in the near future. But I don’t even need to claim that any of this is based in nature rather than culture, though it’s also pretty obvious that it is to some significant degree. And I don’t even need any of _those_ claims for the main conclusions I’ve been arguing for here: that whites face extinction or, at least, reduction to powerless minorities, and that this is very probably the result of an anti-white ‘conspiracy’.

    My impression is that people love to introduce all kinds of legalistic objections at that level in order to redirect attention from obvious and obviously serious issues. Aren’t Pakistanis Caucasians? Are all white Europeans supposed to be genetically more similar to each other than any in relation to any Pakistanis? To what degree or in what sense are Ashkenazi Jews white? None of this matters. The racial knowledge that an ordinary person had in 1920 is enough. Even if the race-denialist Left were right about all this, it still wouldn’t matter. There would still be culturally significant groups of people ‘socially constructed’ as white who are victims of unjust discrimination and violence, targeted for dispossession by our elites.

    Maybe I should also clarify: I don’t know whether most or all of the people who are doing this intentionally regard harm to whites as the ultimate end. Quite possibly most or all of them intend to harm whites only as a means to some further end.

    Rich people and corporate types may intend it only because they think it’s a good way to expand their markets and drive down wages, etc.

    Politicians and technocrats in western ‘democracies’, along with UN and EU functionaries, may intend it because they think it will consolidate their political power. An incoherent population of people who don’t understand or like each other is probably easier to brainwash and rule, and naturally requires a larger state and an ever expanding role for social workers, ‘educators’, community liaison officers, etc. etc. etc.

    Jewish organizations may intend it only because they think it’s the best way to make the world safe for Jews, or because they hope to increase Jewish power.

    Deluded Leftists may intend it only because they it’s a requirement of justice. Or also, or maybe instead, they intend it because they think they will end up with more power and status once (other) whites are powerless minorities. (Think of the ‘scholar’ at Drexel who was in the news a while back for saying he wants white genocide for Christmas, who writes essays praising actual white genocide in Haiti. http://dailycaller.com/2016/12/28/drexel-prof-wrote-long-paper-praising-white-genocide/ Just one guy, no doubt, and surely not in any way representative of what’s normal and acceptable in academia nowadays. Surely it means nothing much that he got hired and got tenure…)

    Here is a couple of brief essays making the case for the white genocide thesis:

    https://www.counter-currents.com/2014/02/white-extinction/

    https://www.counter-currents.com/2015/09/white-genocide/

    And a link to MacDonald’s ‘Culture of Critique’ for anyone interested in a large body of evidence that influential Jewish movements have long been consciously anti-white:

    http://www.angelfire.com/rebellion2/goyim/je1.pdf

  100. “Prof Jay said: ‘No-one knows the true scale of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham over the years. Our conservative estimate is that approximately 1,400 children were sexually exploited over the full inquiry period, from 1997 to 2013.’ Revealing details of the inquiry’s findings, Prof Jay said: ‘It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered.’ The inquiry team found examples of ‘children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone’… The report found: ‘Several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought as racist; others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so.’ Failures by those charged with protecting children happened despite three reports between 2002 and 2006 which both the council and police were aware of, and “which could not have been clearer in the description of the situation in Rotherham’.”

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-28939089

    Sure seems to call for some kind of systemic explanation. A systemic bias against children? Girls? Residents of Rotherham? Victims of sexual abuse in general? People with English-sounding surnames? Still, none of that explains why staff “remembered clear direction from their managers not to [identify the ethnic origins of perpetrators]” though. I wonder what the explanation could be. An open invitation to anyone who might someday read all of this, and has the time and energy to think about this curious incident: How do you think all this happened? Do you think it’s “extremely improbable” that some people at high levels of British society might be consciously anti-white, and consciously working to harm the white British people, given this kind of long-term systemic horror? I am genuinely curious to hear any alternative explanations.

    • Perhaps you addressed this earlier, but does a white person who thinks that whites have done a lot of bad things in the past and either owe a great deal to non-whites in compensation or just that, because of the past, have to be overly deferential to non-whites count as consciously anti-white? If not, it seems fairly plausible that this kind of thing could be caused by attitudes that are not consciously anti-white combined with a kind of cover-your-own-ass cowardice. No?

      I’m not saying this ultimately matters. I think regardless of whether there is conscious anti-whiteness or not, there is pervasive unjust, anti-whiteness.

    • I don’t yet have a clear sense of how much conscious anti-whiteness there needs to be, partly because I’m not sure what counts as conscious anti-whiteness. Does someone who thinks that (a) whites have been especially careless and oppressive to non-whites and (b) whites should be extra deferential because of that count as being consciously anti-white? If not, then it seems to me not just possible, but even quite plausible that most people are not consciously anti-white. Would there need to be some consciously anti-white people somewhere to get everyone else to think (a) and (b)? I suppose you think that, since (a) and (b) aren’t really very plausible, the best explanation for why they are so widely believed is that someone with an explicitly anti-white set of attitudes aggressively pushed (a) and (b) on others. Is that what you think?

  101. Or, to be more precise, a-b are not just very implausible but also _unnatural_ in that really believing a-b and acting on that basis very obviously requires major sacrifices on the part of the individual and most groups to which he belongs and cares about–family, community, tribe, nation, etc. And in the Rotherham example we apparently see people willing to ignore or even facilitate the most gruesome evils being done to the _children_ of their own ethnic group on a mass scale for years… This seems contrary to basic human instincts and feelings. So it seems pretty unlikely to me that huge numbers of people could end up with such _extremely_ weird and unnatural attitudes end up that way without some kind of concerted conscious effort on the part of the people who have power over them. Plus, we observe that many of those other people are often quite explicitly anti-white, or close enough… Overall then the ‘conspiracy’ theory seems like a reasonable hypothesis, at least. What do you think?

    • Yeah, that definitely seems pretty reasonable. But it does raise the question of why so many whites would be so complacent and accept this. What coercive force or trickery are these consciously anti-white people using that is so effective?

  102. I wish I knew the answer to that. The only things I’m aware of are the obvious things. Endless movies and TV and other media stuff depicting whites as bad, guilty, weak, inferior, etc. and depicting non-whites (always) as virtuous, powerful, deep, noble, etc. History books and reporting and curricula that are always totally anti-white, anti-European, ignoring or denying all the cases when whites were victimized by non-whites, always exaggerating and focusing on any case where some white person did something not nice to some non-white… And that’s powerful but it can’t be the whole story. I’m pretty sure whites do have a very unusually low degree of natural-racial ethnocentrism and racism. Highly individualistic, universalist, trusting and fair-minded by nature. Especially northwestern Europeans. This could be partly for cultural reasons too. So this trait which could be an important virtue in some contexts, when constrained by other traits, was turned against us. I believe Lenin and the Soviets explicitly schemed about turning the non-whites against their colonial masters. Communists and Jewish organizations were behind the civil rights movement. My sense is that enemies and rivals of whites knew for a long time that whites were susceptible to racial guilt trips… But I don’t really have an answer. It’s a good question! But the most important thing for now is just that people clearly _have_ adopted this suicidal insane attitude, and that’s not likely to come about without conscious manipulation–not to that degree, not to the point of (e.g.) letting over a thousand children be raped and tortured. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve been putting stuff in the water and so on. I realize ‘normal’ people think that’s utterly batshit. But it really wouldn’t be very surprising to me.

  103. Yeah, ironically, the truth about whites is about the total opposite of what the left pushes (and most people accept). Whites are basically nice, generous people who are getting taken advantage of for something like the reasons you state. When you become aware of this and test it out on whites, even supposedly conservative or right-wing ones, it’s astonishing how unwilling they are to recognize their white identity and the threats to it. The idea that whites are unfriendly or mean or unwelcoming to non-whites is simply the opposite of reality, yet that’s how whites will be depicted in every TV show and movie, etc., and this goes back for decades. I suspect whites openness and generosity to non-whites actually goes back through all of white history and that much of the supposed bad, racist past is mostly a myth. You know what white people really are? Suckers.

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