ddrcrono t1_j7yb5d8 wrote

I don't agree with the commenter's approach here, but I've also taken a feminist philosophy class, well before the current age where people are much more willing to defend minor disagreements to the death and even then I got the sense that too many difficult or pointed questions were not overly welcome.

I've also noted that feminists who fall out of line with some of the more popular pillars of modern feminist thought/who are critical of it get ostracized for their differences.

This isn't my main area of study, but I find that it is the area of study where people are the most sensitive and questions are the least welcome, which is particularly unusual in philosophy. I can see why some people are frustrated with the state of things even if they express themselves in a way that makes it difficult to take them seriously.

The people who would make more reasonable, moderate level-headed criticisms are likely too afraid to.


ddrcrono t1_j7yaju5 wrote

My reply to this train of thought is that I would emphasize that I think that practical considerations are not always cultural / performative. Butler uses the example with the judge because her argument leans on the idea of social norms; that is not what I am talking about in my examples.

My line of argumentation is simply that one group of people is better suited to tasks than another for entirely practical, biological reasons.

At the most basic initial level this is in no way performative. It is very much the same as how someone with bigger muscle mass will end up lifting the heavy things and the short person will crawl into difficult to get into spaces. There is nothing of a performance in any sense of the word, merely people doing what they are naturally good at.

I want to re-emphasize that I am not arguing that she doesn't have a point in general. I think that small differences exist in nature and culture, which develops over time comes to emphasize those differences, and what Butler sees may be largely performative, but it is not entirely and solely performative, which is an incredibly difficult kind of case (the "all" structure of her argument, which I think may just be to seem controversial. She may not even truly believe it) to make for even the most modest of claims.


ddrcrono t1_j7tojg5 wrote

I used to follow this sort of reasoning, but I've adjusted my position from "It's completely performative" to "A significant amount is performative."

My main issue with Butler's reasoning is that it, like a lot of philosophy, makes matters difficult for itself by being too ambitious. Much like the rationalists and empiricists argued that everything came from reason and experience respectively, arguing that every single matter of gender is performative puts an incredible burden on her case. Even a single compelling counter-example undermines the main claim. I want to emphasize, however, that this is an issue I find is broadly present in a lot of philosophy. Maybe it's just because people want to make bold and exciting claims. Or maybe you need to do that to get published. I'm not sure of the more practical considerations at play for these philosophers.

Anyway, as anyone who's not very dedicated to feminist ideology would see, my position here is very unambitious. I'm saying, essentially, that there are probably at least some aspects of gender/sex that aren't performative - learned from society, or so on.

What I would argue is pretty simple - because of some simple differences in men and women biologically, the greatest of which is childbirth, there has been a natural division of labour that's been present in nature since before we were even humans, and, over millennia that difference in division of labour has even caused us to evolve to have some biological differences (like how men tend to track motion better but women distinguish colour better. Differences in fat content and muscle mass, and so on).

I think that what likely happened is that these differences generally worked their way into our cultures and became exaggerated and stereotyped over time. I think the fundamental differences are more of a matter of convenience of division of labour that became exaggerated over time - and this is why you'll also see in certain society that gender roles can be quite different. There are some differences, but they're more subtle than most people who believe in them make them out to be. Societies are typically what exaggerate them.

Now if you want to get into semantics you could say that this practical division of labour is performative, but I would just say that I prefer to use the word practical because I think it's more indicative of what's really going on. Yes, people do perform to societal expectations, but people also make choices that are practical, and while that's less dramatic and interesting, I think it's at least part of the truth of the matter.

Overall I'm still quite amenable to the position that a significant amount of gendered behaviour is performative; I just think that saying that all of it is is getting overly ambitious.


ddrcrono t1_j57dju0 wrote

I'm not sure what you're actually referring to with this sentence. I didn't say something was problematic. Saying something is problematic is a prescriptive (this is how things should be) judgement. I am making a descriptive (how things are) argument.


ddrcrono t1_j4wfwti wrote

Pinker always takes some interesting angles. My simplified version of this that I use to explain to my rationality-obsessed friends how humanity works is that, if there is a behaviour that is common, there is a situation in which it's rewarding. We are extremely highly evolved both genetically and socially, and much of what people think to be a game of "Who has the highest stats" is much more like a very complex game of rock, paper, scissors.

Alternatively I'll use my anime reference where there's a card game with 7 cards: 5 commoners, 1 king and 1 fool. The commoners tie, they beat the fool and lose to the king. The king ties the king, beats the commoner, and the only one he can lose to is the fool. I think there is a lot of truth to this and I've seen it myself in the dynamics of some social circles. (It's also why I think being able to adapt different strategies socially is the best tactic).


ddrcrono t1_j31cxrg wrote

I would say that in this case "pessimism" is a strange word choice meant more to get the reader's attention than to accurately describe what is just having a reasonable and balanced view based on the information before you. One could similarly argue for "cautious optimism" and come up with something that ends up sounding more or less the same.

When it comes to matters of optimism, pessimism and so on, I lean more on the virtue ethics angle, in that a balanced approach is what's most logical - you have to be able to see both positive and negative possibilities and realities to come to a realistic outlook. (That said, I find that in application, people who label themselves "realists" are usually closet pessimists, so I don't use that term).


ddrcrono t1_ittyb4h wrote

Nailed it. The guilt cope is real.

Also he may try to keep his advice apolitical because, from a utility-maximizing point of view, if you can appeal to the moral conscience of people across the spectrum, rather than primarily to those with one political affiliation, the good you will in turn encourage will be greater.

(And let's suppose that there are good people who vote for any given party, and that those are the only people he's concerned with talking to to begin with. There are plenty of left-wing people, as you point out, who are all talk).


ddrcrono t1_itty360 wrote

I think if I were Singer one thing I would be concerned about would be politicizing my philosophy too much. So if he solidly aligns too much with <obviously left-wing party social policy plank> he stands to alienate half or more than half of his readers. From his point of view, it may be better to only advocate for voluntary of your own free will charity and hope that people get the hint on the systemic change side of things. Also, considering this stuff came up in the 70s, there's probably a bit of calculation going on regarding that political climate. (Thatcher and Reagan were just around the corner so maybe that relates)


ddrcrono t1_ittxjrn wrote

This succinctly gets at one of the biggest problems, but I want to flesh out the depths of how unsatisfying this critique is a little more:

A big problem here is that Singer's critic isn't offering any details on what the alternative is to Singer's advice to us. What does "solving systemic problems" entail for me, the regular working class person? Talking on social media about injustice? Dedicating my life to working for NPOs?

What exactly is the alternative, and spell out to me exactly how, in tangible terms, that's going to help people more than donating a significant portion of my income to causes that help people?

If you're going to engage in a critique of a consequentialist, you need to be able to spell out what they should be doing and how it better maximizes utility than their current plan.

To me this article almost feels like a hit piece on a good person who's actually trying actively to do something about the problem by someone who's only capable of pointing out the flaws without themselves offering a better plan by people who just want to talk big without actually putting their money where their mouths are.

Also, if you understand Singer as a philosopher from the consequentialist tradition, you know that, ultimately, if you showed him a demonstrably better way of using your time, money and effort, he'd be like "Good point, that does better maximize utility," and would himself make those changes. I'm pretty sure Singer is all for systemic change, but is trying to be realistic about giving the relatively few people who read him tangible, practical advice about actually making a difference. Even if he doesn't advocate for trying to make bigger picture changes, he's most certainly in favour of them if they're possible, and his advice is not, as the above commentor has pointed out, mutually exclusive with that.


ddrcrono t1_itosaff wrote

My understanding is that there isn't such a thing as an "ADHD brain" in the traditional sense so much as it's a cluster of numerous factors. Some people have posited that it's a stress/trauma response that's more likely in people with certain setups.


ddrcrono t1_itos3j0 wrote

If I understand correctly, while those traits are common in people with ADHD, not everyone with those traits has ADHD, correct?

If that's the case, then the implication is that you essentially become like someone with those traits who doesn't have ADHD.


ddrcrono t1_isr5qw2 wrote

This is part of the problem I see with following famous "successful" people:

Most of the time you're only looking at their initial obvious successes and not where they're going to be in ten or twenty years. Running at 100% all of the time is going to leave you burned out with unreasonably high expectations that you can no longer reach, and that's even if you manage to succeed to begin with.

Not everyone can be "ultra-successful," particularly in a competitive winner-takes-all system, so you've created a reality that leaves the majority of people unhappy, everyone burned out, and even those who do succeed don't come out looking good in the end. I think this is part of why a lot of traditional cultures / moral value systems emphasize things like modesty and moderation.


ddrcrono t1_is9y2t5 wrote

I'm still assuming that there is an implicit or explicit but not known agreement between a number of developed countries not to pursue nuclear energy programs further.

ex: If we all solve all our energy problems with nuclear it makes it look like "Why don't we give it to the little guys," / makes it indefensible not to / still talk about climate change. But we don't want to because giving every country in the world (or even a lot of them) the ability to make nuclear weapons means that you have even more chances for "something to go wrong," which can mean the end of the world.

So basically that's why most countries won't do it even though they could if they wanted to. The possibility of the world more or less ending outweighs the less concrete on the horizon maybe we can deal with another way threats of climate change.


ddrcrono t1_is8zmp9 wrote

There are certainly more upfront costs/pain but I suspect it's actually not the main reason we don't see more of it. It would also kind of explain why they aren't as upfront with the public about it / the reasons we're given don't seem logical, because avoiding nuclear war is a pretty decent reason all things considered.