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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:

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


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