Skip to main content

Philosophy Publishing: Not So Sedate?

Image result for hypatia astrolabe

An odd controversy has popped up in what one might imagine is the sedate world of academic philosophy publishing.
In March Hypatia, a quarterly peer-reviewed journal of feminist philosophy, published an article by Prof. Rebecca Tuvel, "In Defense of Trans-Racialism." The gist of it was this: when someone changes his/her mind about racial self-identification, as seems to have been the case with Rachel Dolezal, then she is generally perceived by the public as a fraud. But when the change of self identification is about sexual identity, as with Kaitlyn Jenner, there has been at least some movement of late toward recognition of and respect for that decision. Why the difference? If both sorts of classification are socially constructed, that is if biology is not destiny in either case, then the search for a pertinent principled distinction is not an easy one.

So far so good. Philosophy is about pressing questions. The real controversy arose after the editors of Hypatia (or a majority of them) felt the pangs of buyer's remorse, or something akin, and retracted the article. Or, not "retracted" exactly, but apologized for its publication and denounced the article in terms that seem positively defamatory regarding Prof. Tuvel. Reminds one a bit of the way an Alexandrian mob reacted to the woman their journal is named after.
There are two ways in which one might reasonably react to Tuvel. Either she employs a false premise or she reasons fallaciously from her premises. Which of those is the basis for the apology? Well ... neither. But apparently their idea is that acceptance of transgender identity is a hard-won recent advance which should not be threatened by pressing it too far with logical reasoning. Or ... something.
If that's their problem, it's public relations, not philosophy. Here's more:
And here is a link to the Tuvel article: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/hypa.12327/full

(At the top, that's Hypatia the astronomer.)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.



We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…

Hume's Cutlery

David Hume is renowned for two pieces of cutlery, the guillotine and the fork.

Hume's guillotine is the sharp cut he makes between "is" statements and "ought" statements, to make the point that the former never ground the latter.

His "fork" is the division between what later came to be called "analytic" and "synthetic" statements, with the ominous observation that any books containing statements that cannot be assigned to one or the other prong should be burnt.

Actually, I should acknowledge that there is some dispute as to how well or poorly the dichotomy Hume outlines really maps onto the analytic/synthetic dichotomy. Some writers maintain that Hume meant something quite different and has been hijacked. Personally, I've never seen the alleged difference however hard they've worked to point it out to me.

The guillotine makes for a more dramatic graphic than a mere fork, hence the bit of clip art above.

I'm curious whe…