Motivated reasoning?

There’s one thing about the Hypatia Associate Editors’ attack on Rebecca Tuvel’s paper and self…

From Justin Weinberg’s post:

Between the complaints on social media and the open letter, sufficient pressure has been put on Hypatia that members of its board of associate editors have already issued an apology for publishing Tuvel’s essay in which they state that “Clearly, the article should not have been published.” The speed with which this has all happened is extraordinary.

The apology is in the form of a public Facebook post from Cressida Heyes, Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Gender and Sexuality at the University of Alberta.

A friend pointed out to me that Tuvel discusses an argument of Heyes’s in the ostracized paper.

In her argument defending the moral permissibility of transgenderism but not of transracialism, Cressida Heyes makes just this point. Heyes suggests that arguments in defense of transracialism, like that of Christine Overall (Overall 2004), discount the fact that society’s dominant belief structure limits the available resources one has to claim different forms of identification. As Heyes puts it, “beliefs about the kind of thing race is shape the possibilities for race change. In particular,… the belief that an individual’s racial identity derives from her biological ancestors undermines the possibility of changing race, in ways that contrast with sex-gender” (Heyes 2009, 142). According to Heyes, because sex-gender has been understood to be a “property of the individual’s body,” the possibility of changing one’s sex-gender through bodily modification is acceptable in our society. However, because race has been understood to be a matter of “both the body and ancestry,” one cannot alter one’s body to become a different race (139; emphasis added).

The problem with this argument is that it dangerously appears to limit to the status quo the possibilities for changing one’s membership in an identity category. Indeed, American society has not always granted recognition to those who felt their gender did not align with their sexed bodies. Would Heyes’s argument imply that, during this time, a person born with male genitalia, but who identified as a woman, would not be permitted to affirm her self-identity, because the available social resources were not yet in place? Or, imagine a transgender person born in a country today where such forms of identification are not tolerated, because the understanding of sex-gender identity is firmly restricted to the genitalia one possesses at birth. Would that person be justly forced to renounce her felt sex-gender, because she was born into a society where “beliefs about the kind of thing [sex-gender] is shape the possibilities for [sex-gender] change” (142)? The implications of such a position for the normative question of whether one should be allowed to change race are more radical than Heyes might appreciate. Indeed, if we hold the legitimacy of a particular act hostage to the status quo, or to what Heyes calls the “range of actually available possibilities for sustaining and transforming oneself,” it is difficult to see how we can make any social progress at all (149). Accordingly, to say “this is how racial categorization currently operates in our society” is to provide a very poor reason to the person asking how racial categorization should operate. And this type of reason is even more disappointing when it comes alongside Heyes’s acknowledgment that “the actions of individuals, now and in the future, will be constitutive of new norms of racial and gendered identity” (149).

And Heyes wrote that attack on Tuvel smarmily disguised as an “apology” for Hypatia.

My friend pointed out that that looks a lot like a conflict of interest.

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