The below paper(s) are currently in-progress. For a PDF of a draft, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Who is a woman? Is black? Is disabled? I argue that questions like these, which concern who belongs to a social group, can come apart from questions about who we should count as group members. This is because, sometimes, facts about who belongs (or does not belong) to a social group may be oppressive truths. Oppressive truths are ontological facts about social group membership such that correctly ascribing membership in that group unjustly distributes social status. I develop a framework for understanding oppressive truths, and discuss its fruitfulness: it can motivate feminist and anti-racist projects in social ontology, and help dissolve the puzzle of how to count the gender or race of someone who does not identify with the gender or with the race they were assigned at birth
Real Talk on the Metaphysics of Gender
The only uncontroversial thing about discourse surrounding gender ascriptions is that it is extremely controversial. These controversies, both in everyday and academic contexts, appear to center on metaphysical questions of what makes someone a man or a woman. In this paper, I argue that we should not look to metaphysical theories of gender to settle questions about who should be ascribed manhood or womanhood. What matters for determining politically just gender ascriptions are normative questions about how we ought to perceive and treat others, and not facts about who is a man or a woman. This claim has an important implication: It may be unjust to make true gender ascriptions, and ethical to make false ascriptions.
He/She/Ze/They [co-author Daniel Wodak (Virginia Tech)]
In this paper, we first defend two main claims. The first is a moderate claim: we have a negative duty to not use binary gender-specific pronouns he or she to refer to genderqueer individuals. We defend this with an argument by analogy. It was gravely wrong for Mark Latham to refer to Catherine McGregor, a transgender woman, using the pronoun he; we argue that such cases of misgendering are morally analogous to referring to Angel Haze, who identifies as genderqueer, as he or she. The second is a radical claim: we have a negative duty to not use any gender-specific pronouns to refer to anyone, regardless of their gender identity. We offer three arguments in favor of this claim (which appeal to concerns about inegalitarianism and risk, invasions of privacy, and reinforcing essentialist ideologies). We also show why the radical claim is compatible with the moderate claim. Before concluding, we examine common concerns about incorporating either they or a neologism such as ze as a third-person singular gender-neutral pronoun. These concerns, we argue, do not provide sufficient reason to reject either the moderate or radical claim.
What is Sexual Orientation? Philosopher's Imprint 16 (3) (2016)
Ordinary discourse is filled with discussions about ‘sexual orientation’. This discourse might suggest a common understanding of what sexual orientation is. But even a cursory search turns up vastly differing, conflicting, and sometimes ethically troubling characterizations of sexual orientation. The conceptual jumble surrounding sexual orientation suggests that the topic is overripe for philosophical exploration. This paper lays the groundwork for such an exploration. In it, I offer an account of sexual orientation – called ‘Bidimensional Dispositionalism’ – according to which sexual orientation concerns what sex[es] and gender[s] of persons one is disposed to sexually engage, and makes no reference to one’s own sex and gender.