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On the Latest Brouhaha in Academic Philosophy

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Daily Nous posted this badly written letter yesterday:http://dailynous.com/2019/08/06/recognizing-gender-critical-feminism-anti-trans-activism-guest-post/It claims that Gender Critical Feminists aren’t engaging in scholarship when they…get this…publish papers or conduct interviews where they argue for GCF. Rather, they are really doing activism (which, presumably, means they are less protected by norms of academic freedom). But the authors don’t argue for this position, really. Rather, the “evidence” they provide (that’s it’s activism rather than scholarship) is simply to state the things GCFs believe. Note that I am not a GCF.Certain philosophers think that GCFs are not merely mistaken in their views, but that they should be ostracized, forbidden from publishing, and subject to

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Daily Nous posted this badly written letter yesterday: http://dailynous.com/2019/08/06/recognizing-gender-critical-feminism-anti-trans-activism-guest-post/ It claims that Gender Critical Feminists aren’t engaging in scholarship when they…get this…publish papers or conduct interviews where they argue for GCF. Rather, they are really doing activism (which, presumably, means they are less protected by norms of academic freedom). But the authors don’t argue for this position, really. Rather, the “evidence” they provide (that’s it’s activism rather than scholarship) is simply to state the things GCFs believe. Note that I am not a GCF. Certain philosophers think that GCFs are not merely mistaken in their views, but that they should be ostracized, forbidden from publishing, and subject to continuous cajoling and harassment, for instance, by calling them “vile fucking human beings” and the like. Why? Here are the main reasons offered: 1. GCF causes harm to transgender people, because failing to accept that, e.g., a trans-woman is a real woman is harmful, violates her rights, and doesn’t respect her self-conception and thus her humanity. 2. The anti-GCF side has decisively refuted the pro-GCF arguments and the pro-GCF arguments are bad. Regarding reason 2: Anti-GCFs, as an outsider reading your stuff, no, I’m not sure about that. I’m inclined to agree with your anti-GCF view, but your arguments are far from compelling or knock-down. The GCFs have some good objections to your views. You also tend to misrepresent their arguments and straw man their position to make it easier to argue against them. It’s kind of transparent to the rest of us that you do that. Regarding reason 1: Even if you’re right that GCF has been decisively refuted, so what? I’ve decisively refuted all the existing arguments for limiting kidney markets. Restrictions on kidney markets literally kill hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps even millions, per year, which means such restrictions are far worse, in terms of harm, than whatever harm GCF supposedly does. But it would be absurd, I expect you agree, for me to then claim that the philosophers who advocate forbidding kidney sales should be shut down and forbidden from publishing or speaking on these manners, that they should be subjected to verbal abuse, or to claim that they are really just activists rather than scholars. As a more extreme example of this, consider immigration restrictions. On a *conservative* estimate, the harm done by such restrictions equals, on net, at least $50 trillion a year, with the harms disproportionately suffered by the extremely poor. The harm of such restrictions is many orders of magnitude worse than the harm done to transgender people around the world. As far as I can tell, Bas van der Vossen, Mike Huemer, and I, plus a bunch of economists working on this issue, have decisively refuted all but maybe one objection to open borders, including all the arguments philosophers make. (There’s maybe one economic argument left on the other side which hasn’t be decisively defeated.) Nevertheless, it would be absurd, I expect you agree, for me to claim that David Miller, Gillian Brock, or other restrictionists should be shut down, forbidden from publishing or speaking, subject to verbal abuse, or to claim that they are really just activists. In short, if you want to argue GCF is really activism, you need to provide actual evidence for it. Second, your arguments about why GCFs should be subject to abuse and ostracism lead to implications you would not endorse. P.S. Comments are open. Please be civil to anyone on my side, but you are permitted to be nasty to people who disagree, since by hypothesis they advocate immoral and unjust positions for bad reasons.  
Jason Brennan
Jason Brennan (Ph.D., 2007, University of Arizona) is Robert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Family Chair and Associate Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business, and by courtesy, Associate Professor of Philosophy, at Georgetown University, and formerly Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Research, at Brown University. He specializes in political philosophy and applied ethics.

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