Monday, 4 March 2019

She Says

I have so many phobias it’s hard to keep up with them all. One I have been open about and shared with you all is the use of ‘she’ as the unmarked pronoun in contemporary philosophy writing.
she who must be obeyed

The intent is good if fatuous and it is of course meant to encourage female agency which is odd given that in English the marked pronoun is ‘she’. When you first encounter a reference to ‘she’ down the page you go back to see to whom the ‘she’ refers. Oh! Whoever doing whatever. ‘He’ is now the referred to writer, thinker and so on. More decerebrate flailing and the product of monolingual ignorance.

Generally there is consistence even unto the invidious. I noted an exception this morning reading the generally unpersuasive Aeon essay by Neil Levy:
no platforming justifiable

He writes:
Importantly, higher-order evidence is extremely difficult to rebut. If my university gives a platform to a climate-change skeptic, it provides higher-order evidence in favour of her view. That higher-order evidence is not rebutted by the university inviting another speaker later to ‘balance’ her, or if she is subject to a devastating response from the floor. We can rebut her claim that global warming isn’t occurring, but we cannot rebut her claim that the invitation certifies my expertise.

Further down he writes:
. We rebut higher-order evidence using approaches that many open-speech arguments deplore, because they don’t address first-order evidence. An ad hominem attack (he’s funded by the oil industry; he’s a racist) or attacks on the credibility of those who provided him with a platform do not address his arguments, but they are often appropriate responses to higher-order evidence.

The ‘ad hominem’ refers to the fallacious strategy of descrying the credentials of the person making the argument. It does not refer to a particular man with whom the pronoun must agree unless you take on what you have sought to avoid.

About Levy’s essay:
I always thought one of the benefits of a university education was the certain proof that standing on a podium and expatiating did not of itself add lustre to the status of the speaker however advanced their degrees.

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