Ed Gein was a serial killer, grave robber, and body snatcher who made a lampshade from human skin. Now consider the detective who found that lampshade. Let's suppose that he would never want to own it; however, he does find that he wants a synthetic one just like it – a perfect replica. We assume that there is something morally problematic about the detective having such a replica. We then argue that, given as much, we can reach the surprising conclusion (...) that it's morally problematic to consume realistic fake-meat products. After explaining why we might the detective's replica lampshade morally problematic, we clarify the analogy between the replica and fake meat products. Then, we defend it against a number of objections, the most notable one being we can sever any association between fake meat and the real stuff without moral cost. We conclude by pointing out that our argument generalises: if it works, then there is something morally problematic about many fake animal products, including fake leather and fur. (shrink)
This paper assesses the first-person authority account (FPA) of gender, according to which X's self-identification of what X's gender is, is the final say on what X's gender is, such that if others disagree, they are mistaken. One main reason in support of FPA is respecting X's autonomy—that is, overriding X's self-identification amounts to denying X's autonomy. Ozturk criticizes this view using analogies of religious and patriotic self-identifications, such that there are cases in which someone can permissibly claim that another (...) is not, say, a true Muslim or a true patriot. This implies that there might also be cases of permissible rejections of gender self-identification. Ozturk offers instead the negotiative theory of identity, according to which it is permissible to reject a self identification as long as three constraints are satisfied: no harm is done to the self-identifier, and their privacy and dignity are not violated. (This essay is a slightly revised version of that found in the 7th edition of The Philosophy of Sex.). (shrink)
The first-person authority view (FPA) is the current dominant view about what someone’s gender is. According to FPA the person has authority over her own gender identity; her sincere self-identification trumps the opinions of others. There are two versions of FPA: epistemic and ethical. Both versions try to explain why a person has authority over her own gender identity. But both have problems. Epistemic FPA attributes to the self-identifier an unrealistic degree of doxastic reliability. Ethical FPA implies the existence of (...) an unreasonably strong and unqualified obligation on the part of others not to reject the person’s identification. This essay offers an alternative: the negotiative theory of identity. Unlike epistemic FPA, the negotiative theory doesn’t presume the reliability of self-directed beliefs. Unlike ethical FPA, the negotiative theory doesn’t imply an obligation not to reject. Instead, it contends that an act of rejection is morally permissible if and only if it respects three ethical and epistemic constraints. In doing so, the negotiative theory combines the strengths and avoids the weaknesses of both versions of FPA, and gives us substantive insight into how far first-person authority reaches in terms of grounding rights and obligating others. (shrink)
This paper deploys a Cantor-style diagonal argument which indicates that there is more possible mathematical content than there are propositional functions in Russell and Whitehead's Principia Mathematica and similar formal systems. This technical result raises a historical question: "How did Russell, who was himself an expert in diagonal arguments, not see this coming?" It turns out that answering this question requires an appreciation of Russell's understanding of what logic is, and how he construed the relationship between logic and Principia Mathematica.
There are two popular ways of explaining why a person has authority over her own gender identity: epistemic FPA and ethical FPA. Both have problems. Epistemic FPA attributes to the self-identifier an unrealistic degree of doxastic reliability. Ethical FPA implies the existence of an unqualified obligation not to reject which is too strong to be plausible. This essay offers a third explanation called “weak FPA” and investigates how far first-person authority reaches in terms of grounding rights and obligating others. Weak (...) FPA doesn’t obligate one not to reject but it implies that when self-identification can be satisfactorily defended against attempted defeaters, the self-identifier has the right to recognition, which entails the respect and all other legal and social rights any other self-identifier receives from her peers. (shrink)
Universities regulate speech in various ways. How should we assess when such restrictions are justified, if they ever are? Here, we propose an answer to this question. In short, we argue that we should think about speech restrictions as being like acts of war, and so should approach their justification using just war theory. We also make some suggestions about its implications. For instance, one of the jus ad bellum requirements for a just war is that you have a reasonable (...) hope of success; you shouldn’t enter or continue a war unless you’ve got good reason to think that your objectives are achievable. We offer some reasons to think that many speech restrictions fail to pass this test in our current political climate: we are too far from the kind of society that universities hope to create via speech restrictions, and in employing them, they only exacerbate the problems they’re trying to solve. (shrink)
During the Second World War, the Allies faced a question colloquially known as the “German Tank Problem”: how many tanks will the Axis ever produce? The answer resulted from an elegant probabilistic argument which was used by Allied mathematicians to make successful upper-bound estimates for the total Axis tank production. This paper shows that if two empirical postulates are true of the history of science, a parallel argument can be used to come up with lower-bound estimates for the number of (...) alternative scientific theories that remain undiscovered. The lower bound in question increases proportionally with the number of theories that have already been discovered. So, the problem of underconsideration is a serious problem and it will get worse, not better, as we discover new theories. (shrink)