• fdrake
    2.8k
    The entire point of that argument strategy is to get us talking about biological sex, as if it's relevant to gender at all...
  • Harry Hindu
    2.5k
    If you press these guys enough, you'll find that it's never about the language issue, it's about something more fundamental. This is a major part of why people are campaigning for more inclusive language might actually be effective to some extent; if it becomes hard to articulate prejudice (misgendering is punishable), proponents of bigotry and ignorance have to speak in terms of their underlying (badly researched or wilfully ignorant) ideas about reality.

    And they'll keep going, really, because it's never about the fact of the matter (if it were, they wouldn't behave like douchenozzles trying to refute you on all points and being internally inconsistent in the process), it's about a personal feeling of discomfort with norms shifting underneath them.
    fdrake

    The entire point of that argument strategy is to get us talking about biological sex, as if it's relevant to gender at all...fdrake
    We went over this already.

    If "gender" isn't about sex, then what is "gender"?

    You defined "gender" as a social construction.

    "Social construction" is defined as a shared assumption or expectation.

    This means that "gender" would be kind of shared assumption or expectation, but a shared assumption or expectation of what?

    The answer: the behavior of the different sexes within a culture.

    So, again you are confusing a shared assumption or expectation with the actual sexual identity of that person, which is the result of millions of years of evolution and nothing that they have any control over.

    Those shared assumptions or expectations are sexist, so when someone claims to identify with them, they are the actual proponents of sexism.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.5k
    Do you even care if anything you write is true? I mean, if you're going to appeal to biology, at least know something about it. Why any particular baby has a natal sex (all else held equal) is due to essentially random union of gametes. On the individual level this has nothing to do with natural selection.

    Sexual reproduction is evolutionarily old, need not have just 2 sexes, need not have one sex per organism. And you wanna reduce all of the question of "what makes a person a man or a woman?" down to evolutionary adaptations that occurred prior to the evolution of humans. What in the fuck are you even talking about.
    fdrake

    The entire point of that argument strategy is to get us talking about biological sex, as if it's relevant to gender at all...fdrake
    Right, so when I show you that you're wrong and don't know what you're talking about your tactic is to then say it doesn't have anything to do with what we're talking about. :roll:
  • Isaac
    1.7k
    I'm sure @fdrake has this covered but you're so frustratingly close I couldn't help but intervene.


    You defined "gender" as a social construction.Harry Hindu

    Yes.

    "Social construction" is defined as a shared assumption or expectation.Harry Hindu

    Yes (broadly)

    This means that "gender" would be kind of shared assumption or expectation, but a shared assumption or expectation of what?

    The answer: the behavior of the different sexes within a culture.
    Harry Hindu

    Yes

    So, again you are confusing a shared assumption or expectation with the actual sexual identity of that person, which is the result of millions of years of evolution and nothing that they have any control over.Harry Hindu

    No. You've just conceded that gender is a social construction, so it's not a confusion at all. Social constructions are like the boxes available on a census form, you still get to pick which one to tick.

    Yes, some social constructions are sexist (that's my particular beef with some radical trans philosophy that seems to reify such constructions), but..

    The important thing is that people are required to choose anyway in order to take part in the culture which has just constructed those options.

    So the trans thing is really about support for a choice between options which someone else presented but where 'none of the above' isn't an option.

    Note - philosophically, 'none of the above' is what I agree with, but practically it can only go one way, society changes the choices first.
  • fdrake
    2.8k
    Right, so when I show you that you're wrongHarry Hindu

    You've not established that the evolution of sex is relevant to gender at all. You've left it in the background as a framing device. We're not arguing about whether sex is relevant to gender, you invited me to argue about the specifics of the evolution of sex as if it were relevant to gender, this is just something you do. You say you want to "refine your worldview", you mean "perform certainty about it". If you were interested in questioning aspects of it, you would stay on topic, and not rabidly and uncharitably jump on anything you see as false while keeping your presumptions in the background.

    You're only caring about evolution as it applies to producing typically sexed human bodies. Like it was a biological necessity. Like all the social stuff regarding gender is reducible to it. This is a major error.

    Hermaphroditism is old. Sex isn't. You are the one that doesn't know what they are talking about.Harry Hindu

    "fdrake is wrong because hermaphroditism isn't a form of sexual reproduction"
    "provides quote showing hermaphroditism is a form of sexual reproduction"

    Many taxonomic groups of animals (mostly invertebrates) do not have separate sexes. In these groups, hermaphroditism is a normal condition, enabling a form of sexual reproduction in which either partner can act as the "female" or "male." For example, the great majority of tunicates, pulmonate snails, opisthobranch snails, earthworms, and slugs are hermaphrodites. Hermaphroditism is also found in some fish species and to a lesser degree in other vertebrates. Most plants are also hermaphrodites — Wikipedia

    The entire point of raising hermaphroditism here is to undermine your claim that "we have the sexes we have because of natural selection", because evolution also produces hermaphrodites and species with more than two sexes...

    Edit: I don't even mean to say that natural selection has nothing to do with human sexuality, just the story is way more complicated than you're giving it credit for. Well, what you're leaving in the background unexamined is giving it credit for, anyway.

    Those shared assumptions or expectations are sexist, so when someone claims to identify with them, they are the actual proponents of sexism.Harry Hindu

    This is "he who smelt it dealt it" applied to social categories.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    What would you say a verb refers too? Let's consider "run".Banno

    So one way to know what "run" refers to is to use a dictionary; "Run," in one sense of the term, refers to "moving at a speed faster than a walk, while never having both or all the feet on the ground at the same time."

    Can we stop pretending that you're a toddler now?
  • HereToDisscuss
    58
    Exactly. Societies have different established social rules on what women should do, not what makes one a woman. Those rules are sexist because they put women in boxes that limit them. Why can't a woman wear pants and have short hair and join the military and still be a woman?Harry Hindu

    If a woman has a short hair, they're still seen as a woman. If a woman joins a military, they're still seen as a woman. The only difference would be that now they're not seen as a "real woman" if the society decides such things determine that. But even the people who think that will not refer to them as a man, but as a woman-just not a "proper" one.

    I do not think you can find any instance of someone, not insultingly or out of a mistake, calling a woman a man because the person believs that the person is a man just because she has short hair. That would be extaordinarily rare.

    What makes a person a man or woman? Natural selection.Harry Hindu
    It is the SRY gene by that definition, as per the name "Sex-determining region Y protein". Natural selection is not really relevant.
  • Banno
    6.5k
    "moving at a speed faster than a walk, while never having both or all the feet on the ground at the same time."Terrapin Station

    So you can refer to things other than things...?

    If that's all you are claiming, then we might agree; but can we denote things other than things?
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k


    If you're using "thing" in the "noun" sense, then yes, of course you're not limited to referring to "things."

    "Things" in the noun sense are processes by the way. It's not really the case that anything is static.

    On many views, denotation and reference are the same thing. Denotation and reference are both what a term "points to."
  • Banno
    6.5k
    While we are refraining from being toddlers, you might address this:
    Seeking definitions is a very old philosophical game; you can see where it leads by reading Plato. Mapping out use would be a more interesting task.

    Further, you already know what an explanation is, and how to explain things, and can sort good explanations form bad. So don't bother asking.

    Not pretending to having an explanation when you don't, is a mark of intellectual honesty. That's a good thing, isn't it?
    Banno
  • Banno
    6.5k
    On many views, denotation and reference are the same thing. Denotation and reference are both what a term "points to."Terrapin Station

    So "run" points to...what?

    And if it's every instance of running, it's circular.

    IF it's moving at a speed faster than a walk, while never having both or all the feet on the ground at the same time, how will you "point" to it?



    And the point here is that definitions are usually either inadequate or to strict, and hence do not help us in working out what we are doing with our words.

    It's a thing I learned from reading and thinking about the issue of family resemblance and other related problems.
  • Banno
    6.5k
    Poor @Harry Hindu. He's still confused about the difference between what's in your underpants and how people treat you.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    So "run" points to...what?Banno

    But I just wrote what it points to.

    And if it's every instance of running, it's circular.Banno

    You'd have to explain (a) how you see it as circular (in your view the instances of running are pointing to something?), and (b) what you'd see as the problem with circularity in this case.

    IF it's moving at a speed faster than a walk, while never having both or all the feet on the ground at the same time, how will you "point" to it?Banno

    Descriptively, as with the words you just used, for example. If you're talking about literal pointing, you take your finger and keep it aimed at them while they run.

    And the point here is that definitions are usually either inadequate or to strict, and hence do not help us in working out what we are doing with our words.Banno

    All I was commenting on was the fact that referring isn't restricted to nouns. I have no idea why you'd think that. Whether definitions are inadequate etc. would have no bearing on whether we can refer only to nouns.
  • Banno
    6.5k
    But I just wrote what it points to.Terrapin Station

    But I don't what you to write it, I want you to point to it.

    'cause you see, you cannot. That sort of pointing is sort of metaphorical.

    You'd have to explain (a) how you see it as circularTerrapin Station

    Well, if you cannot see the circularity in "Run points to running"... let that be an end to the discussion.

    (b) what you'd see as the problem with circularity in this case.Terrapin Station

    I think the circularity is fine, just so long as you don't think you have shown what "run" points to.

    ...take your finger and keep it aimed at them while they run.Terrapin Station

    All of the instances of "run"? You got a lot of fingers.

    All I was commenting on was the fact that referring isn't restricted to nouns.Terrapin Station

    What you did was request definitions as if that would help our discussion. It's a habit of yours. I think it is fraught with philosophical problems. Hence, I'm behaving as a toddler in order to show you the issue.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    But I don't what you to write it, I want you to point to it.Banno

    I can easily point to run(ning), but you need to come visit me to see it, obviously. So when are you going to be around?

    That sort of pointing is sort of metaphorical.Banno

    Metaphorical?? At any rate, if it's "metaphorical" how would any pointing not be "metaphorical"?

    Well, if you cannot see the circularity in "Run points to running"... let that be an end to the discussion.Banno

    Again, phrased this way, how would any reference not be circular? What I'm addressing is the odd claim that words don't have references if they're not nouns. But if you have a problem with "run" pointing to "run(ning)," then you'd have an equal problem with "Joe" pointing to "Joe" or "cat" pointing to "cat" or whatever . . . which would have nothing to do with the odd idea that only nouns pertain to reference.

    All of the instances of "run"? You got a lot of fingers.Banno

    You can't point to all of the instances of anything by that token, including Joe. So again, what would this have to do with the curious idea that reference only comes into play when we're talking about nouns?

    What you did was request definitions as if that would help our discussion.Banno

    What I did was write, "Verbs do not refer to anything in your view?" a la "What sort of crackpot nonsense is this?"
  • bongo fury
    162
    But if you have a problem with "run" pointing to "run(ning)," then you'd have an equal problem with "Joe" pointing to "Joe" or "cat" pointing to "cat" or whatever . . .Terrapin Station

    It helps to drop the second pair of quote marks in each case, no?

    I.e. "run" points to run(ning), "Joe" points to Joe and "cat" points to cat?
  • bongo fury
    162
    You can't point to all of the instances of anythingTerrapin Station

    Ain't that the root of all our (thinking we have) problems?!
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k


    Yeah, I should have left the second quotation marks off. Thanks.

    Re "Ain't that the root of all our problems"--I think I'm more inclined to say that seeing it as a problem, or wanting it to be otherwise, is more at the root of many problems.
  • bongo fury
    162


    Yeah indeed, hence my parenthetical edit that you likely didn't see.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.5k
    Poor Harry Hindu. He's still confused about the difference between what's in your underpants and how people treat you.Banno

    Poor Banno is still confused about the difference between how what is in your underpants scientifically/objectively (not culturally/subjectively) identifies them as a particular biological identity, and how subjective cultures form subjective expectations (not objective identities) about those scientific/objective identities.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.5k
    No. You've just conceded that gender is a social construction, so it's not a confusion at all. Social constructions are like the boxes available on a census form, you still get to pick which one to tick.

    Yes, some social constructions are sexist (that's my particular beef with some radical trans philosophy that seems to reify such constructions), but..

    The important thing is that people are required to choose anyway in order to take part in the culture which has just constructed those options.

    So the trans thing is really about support for a choice between options which someone else presented but where 'none of the above' isn't an option.

    Note - philosophically, 'none of the above' is what I agree with, but practically it can only go one way, society changes the choices first.
    Isaac
    First, I never conceded that "gender" is a social construction. What I'm doing is taking that idea and showing the illogical implications of that idea.

    The boxes that are available on a census forum are related to biological characteristics, like sex and race. If gender is a social construction, then the boxes would be labeled:
    Women wear dresses
    Women wear makeup
    Women have long hair
    Men wear pants
    Men don't wear makeup
    Men have short hair.

    The list would have to be much longer for any behavior that one takes as their "gender" and you could check more than one. Notice that the list isn't identities - they are behaviors expected of those biological identities. That is what it means to have a shared expectation as opposed to having an identity. If gender is a shared expectation of the behavior of the sexes, as you agreed with, then gender would be statements like, "Men wear pants", not "Man". That confuses the expected behavior that the members of a culture share ("men wear pants") with the biological entity, "man".

    The other problem you have is the term "shared" in the definition of a social construction. If a social construction is "shared" then that means that it is an agreement between the members of society. Transgenders aren't conforming which means that their idea of gender isn't shared, it is an individual feeling, so it wouldn't qualify as a social construction.

    There is also the problem of transgenderism promoting sexism. If these social constructions are sexist because they put men and women, who are biological entities, into subjective boxes, then a man claiming to be a woman simply by wearing a dress reinforces those stereotypes. Wearing a dress doesn't make one a woman. It is simply the expected behavior of women. This is why people get confused when they see that a man is under the dress. They expected a different identity because of their shared expectation that only women (the identity) wear dresses (the shared expectation of behavior for that identity).

    You've not established that the evolution of sex is relevant to gender at all.fdrake
    I've established that if gender is a social construction then that means it is a shared expectation of biological identities, not identities themselves.

    I brought up the evolution of sex to show that our species has diverged enough from our far distant hemaphrodite ancestors that when those hidden genes are activated during conception and our physiology has changed so much since then, that the outcome of ancient DNA expression in a body that it wasn't designed for can have unpredictable consequences.

    The entire point of raising hermaphroditism here is to undermine your claim that "we have the sexes we have because of natural selection", because evolution also produces hermaphrodites and species with more than two sexes...fdrake

    This means that "gender" would be kind of shared assumption or expectation, but a shared assumption or expectation of what?

    The answer: the behavior of the different sexes within a culture.
    — Harry Hindu

    Yes
    Isaac
    Yes, but those are defining characteristics of those species, not humans. Which species were we talking about again?
  • fdrake
    2.8k
    I brought up the evolution of sex to show that our species has diverged enough from our far distant hemaphrodite ancestors that when those hidden genes are activated during conception and our physiology has changed so much since then, that the outcome of ancient DNA expression in a body that it wasn't designed for can have unpredictable consequences.Harry Hindu

    I brought up hermaphrodites. You didn't say anything about hermaphrodites, and they were not part of your argument. To my understanding, you were suggesting that the equation of gender and sex in humans makes sense in light of natural selection. I brought up hermaphroditism and other forms of sexual reproduction in organisms to show that evolution alone is not even a sufficient explanation for sex in humans - since it produces many forms of sexual reproduction.

    You can't just argue "gender is sex because natural selection", the evolutionary story is way more complicated than that. Natural selection isn't a magical device that allows you to equate cultural characteristics with anatomical characteristics.

    It's also an incidental part of the discussion; mostly off topic. The central claim is whether gender is reducible to anatomical sex; not how sex came about in humans. An account of gender in terms of the evolution of human sex only argues for your point that gender = sex once the framing is accepted that it's even relevant at all.

    I indulged in refuting your irrelevant points because, well, I don't want you to propagate these ludicrous falsehoods, or to have a bulwark of intellectual terrain to retreat to to avoid more relevant challenges. If you want to reduce gender to sex on the basis of natural selection, you have to do more than just frame your central point (gender = sex) as correct.

    Gender roles differ over cultures, how many genders there are differ over cultures, yet we share the same evolutionary history - the same sex characteristics. How can you possibly account for the cultural disparities in gender, and the cultural shifts in gender roles over time, when all of this has occurred so quickly that evolution will not have acted much?

    If 'we're still the same species with the same sexual characteristics' sufficed for an explanation of gender, if that's all there was to it, then you'd expect little unexplained variation from your model. Your account of things (sex=gender) leaves all cultural shifts, cultural norms, differences in gender expression, differences in social roles, and even the progression of expectations you want to reduce gender to unexplained; there is far too much variation left unaccounted for for your account to be sufficient.

    Moreover, the sources of variation - cultural ones, norms of conduct and explanation - vary independently of human sex characteristics. We have the same anatomical structures independent of culture.

    This is just bad reasoning upon bad reasoning. I don't think you even know how to keep your story straight, or what you're aiming to account for.

    Notice that the list isn't identities - they are behaviors expected of those biological identities. That is what it means to have a shared expectation as opposed to having an identity. If gender is a shared expectation of the behavior of the sexes, as you agreed with, then gender would be statements like, "Men wear pants", not "Man". That confuses the expected behavior that the members of a culture share ("men wear pants") with the biological entity, "man".Harry Hindu

    The only confusion there is yours. Cultural variation regarding sex and gender is causally independent of anatomical variation of sex characteristic in humans. You need to keep these two things (sex, gender) somewhat separate to tell a coherent story about them. Even their relationship.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.5k
    You can't just argue "gender is sex because natural selection",fdrake
    That wasn't my argument. You aren't taking time to read and digest what I'm saying. You just have this knee-jerk emotional reaction to what I say and then post this wall of text that doesn't apply to what I said.

    Gender is sex because that is how we've use the term and now a particular political entity wants to redefine it for their own political agenda.

    The only confusion there is yours. Cultural variation regarding sex and gender is causally independent of anatomical variation of sex characteristic in humans. You need to keep these two things (sex, gender) somewhat separate to tell a coherent story about them. Even their relationship.fdrake
    This makes no sense. Cultural variation regarding sex IS gender, according to your own arguments that gender is a social construction. Gender cannot be causally independent of sex if gender is a shared expectation of the sexes. You'd have an expectation that is devoid of any object it is associated with and be then gender becomes meaningless.
  • fdrake
    2.8k
    Gender cannot be causally independent of sex if gender is a shared expectation of the sexes.Harry Hindu

    Do you think having a willy necessitates being a breadwinner?
  • fdrake
    2.8k
    Gender is sex because that is how we've use the term and now a particular political entity wants to redefine it for their own political agenda.Harry Hindu

    Right. What's sex? Sexes are summaries of presence/absence of sexual characteristics. The sexes male and female correspond to typical configurations of human bodily anatomy in terms of their sexual characteristics. Women have wombs, vulvas, boobs, a certain hormone chemistry, periods... Men have testicles, dicks, facial hair, a certain hormone chemistry... Typical clusters of these things define the sexes male and female.

    Now, let's set up sex as a construct. A construct is a conceptualisation of a phenomenon of interest that facilitates its study and (ideally) captures all relevant variability of the phenomenon in question.

    So, for example, a depression index in clinical psychology might measure mood intensity, mood persistence, feelings of worthlessness, thoughts of self harm, concentration issues, anhedonia... All of these are indicators of the presence of depression and its severity. Depression as a construct, then, correlates with each of its indicators; which is what it means for those things to be an indicator of depression. Depression is more likely given an indicator, and more likely given a strong scoring on all indicators.

    In our case, sex as a construct would look at human bodies, and look at their sexual characteristics, whether they are male or female or intersex.

    Now, let us hypothesise that sex is gender. As Harry instructs us to. Let us agree with Harry and see what the world would look like if he were right!

    What does the claim sex is gender entail? This should suggest that there are no unique sources of variation which are not causally reducible to sex as a construct. That is, any variability in gender norms, archetypes, codes of conduct, expectations and practices should be explainable by the presence or absence of sexual characteristics of bodies.

    Now, the sexual characteristics of bodies are constant across cultures in terms of their presence or absence. In every population of humans there are the same sexual characteristics in roughly the same proportion. That is there are negligible differences in sex characteristics over human populations. Moreover, sexual characteristics of humans are roughly constant since before we were even H. Sapiens. Let's just say they were constant since 10,000BC to be sure.

    But, the norms, archetypes, codes of conduct, expectations and practices regarding male or female bodies differ strongly over cultures and over time.

    If sex = gender, we would expect little to no variation in norms, archetypes, codes of conduct, expectations and practices regarding male or female bodies over time or human populations.

    But there is strong variation over both.

    Huh.

    Guess sex isn't equal to gender then.

    Edit: just in case the logic is difficult, if two constructs are the same, we would expect variation in one to strongly correlate with variation in the other. Since there are negligible differences in population sex characteristics over populations and time but over the same populations varied configurations of gender norms, we can't say they're the same construct. Differences in one do not explain differences in the other; they don't even correlate, nevermind strongly correlate, nevermind cause (edit: nevermind conceptual or logical identity).
  • fdrake
    2.8k
    Let's take a moment to reflect on what's gone on the the thread.

    There used to be an argument about new pronouns and free speech and stuff.
    Now there's an argument about whether trans or non-binary people exist, and about gender.
    This is the general pattern, arguments about the map mask underlying prejudices in the territory.
  • NOS4A2
    1.5k


    Let's take a moment to reflect on what's gone on the the thread.

    There used to be an argument about new pronouns and free speech and stuff.
    Now there's an argument about whether trans or non-binary people exist, and about gender.
    This is the general pattern, arguments about the map mask underlying prejudices in the territory.

    It’s also the case that trans talk has escalated in the opposite direction outside of the thread, to the point that biological males can now participate in sport intended for biological females. I’m surprised the pushback hasn’t been far worse.
  • fdrake
    2.8k


    "But the left does this too therefore I don't have to think about it!"
  • NOS4A2
    1.5k


    “Oh no, a forum post escalated to a worse forum post!”
  • fdrake
    2.8k


    What do you actually believe regarding sex and gender?
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