Saturday 16 September 2023

Amia Srinivasan on why Feminist Philosophy is an oxymoron

Analytical philosophy is about the use of language and the logical analysis of concepts. It implicitly assumes that meaning is not holistic or, put differently, that semantic values are not interdependent nor all evaluated at the same time. Everything that is said or that is contained in a concept can be separated out from everything else and is subject to independent revision. 

 Speaking generally, this type of Philosophy was hostile to a Hegelian or Marxist or 'Holistic' type of philosophy. It was respectful of the natural sciences and initially tried to stay abreast of developments in  mathematical logic. Politically it was bien pensant but detached from any actual political processes. At about the same time that politics on campuses went crazy, developments in mathematics made analtickle philosophy irrelevant. What we now have is a zombie discipline which attracts only cretins slowly turning it into a branch of Grievance Studies so as to qualify as special education delivered to and by those with very special educational needs indeed. 

 The charitable view of Jason Stanley and Amia Srinivasan is that they are belatedly rebelling against the aridity of their discipline. Perhaps the unconsciously hate it. What is certain is that they have rendered farcical its practice. Consider the following passage extracted from a paper by Amia titled 'Does Feminist philosophy rest on a mistake?' in which she wonders whether 

 the   hostility   directed   at   feminist   philosophy by mainstream  analytic  philosophers does  not  reduce  to a  hatred  of  feminism,  or  of women,  but  is  instead  motivated  by  a  legitimate objection  to feminist  philosophy itself.

If so, why has that objection not been made? Where is the analytic critique of a Beauvoir or a Kristeva?  

The objection I have in mind is that feminist philosophy rests on a mistake: namely, a  conflation  of  epistemology  and politics. 

Epistemology is not knowledge. It consists of claims about knowledge. So does politics. This is a case of overlap, not conflation.  

Philosophy,  at  least  on  the conventional understanding,   is   an   epistemic   project,   a   project   oriented   toward   truth   or knowledge, and thus committed to the kind of unfettered inquiry that is conducive to the acquisition of truth and knowledge.

This may be said of Chemistry or Conservatism. Chemists are committed to unfettered inquiry conducive to finding out the truth about chemical reactions. The Conservative Party is committed to an unfettered inquiry into finding out how to gain or retain power. No doubt, some Chemists and some Conservatives are stupid, lazy, and obstructive to such efforts because of their own preconceived ideas or prejudices. 

Philosophers, on the other hand, are not concerned with 'unfettered inquiry'. There may be different schools of inquiry, but they are protocol bound and some don't recognize others as legitimate. Thus, Philosophy is more like Jurisprudence or Theology than it is any alethic, commercial, or political research program. 

Feminism meanwhile is a political project, a project   oriented   toward   the   emancipation   of   women   and   the   dissolution   of patriarchy. 

One could as easily say that Philosophy is a political project, oriented to emancipating savants from the tyranny of the Ecclesia or the popular prejudices of the age.  

How  then  could  something  be  at  once  philosophy  and  feminist? 

If that something is done by a feminist who is a philosopher, what else could it be? One might ask how something could be at once mathematical and philosophical or Hindu and philosophical or musical and philosophical. The answer would be that a mathematician can do philosophy just as a Hindu can cast his credo in philosophical terms as can a musician. 

How could the unencumbered pursuit of knowledge itself have a political orientation?

Pursuing something does not mean getting it. An unencumbered person- i.e. a chap without a job or a family- may be pursuing a wanted criminal in the hope of getting a reward from the police. However, he may stop his pursuit to join a march organized by the Socialist Workers Party demanding the immediate implementation of a Basic Income Program. 

Those encumbered with the job of teaching worthless shite may try to make their work more enjoyable to themselves by using their time in the class room to promote their own political agenda.  

In other words how could there really be feminist philosophy?

Employ a philosopher who is a feminist and that is what you are likely to get provided students are willing to sign up for that shite.  

I want to take seriously the idea that feminist philosophy  might  rest  on  a  mistake because thinking  about  this  problem raises  a  worthwhile  metaphilosophical question: namely,  in  what  ways  can  philosophical inquiry  be  ethically  or  politically  committed  while still  counting  as  philosophy, conventionally understood?

If such inquiry is conducted by smart people of good character, loyal to a particular cause,  and their work has some effect they themselves desire or find commendable then question is answered easily enough. It turns out that 'meta-philosophy' in this case is just a question of quality of supply (is the philosopher smart, ethical, and consistent in loyalty) and the nature of demand (are lots of people buying into that shite?) 

This way of framing the question shows why the issue extends beyond the particular intersection   of   philosophy   and   feminism,   to every   juncture   where traditional philosophy  and  forms  of  political  practice  come  together.  Just  as  we  can  ask how there can be a feminist philosophy, we might also ask, analogously, how can there be such  a  thing  as  an anti-racist  philosophy, or  an anti-colonial  philosophy,  or  a green philosophy.

Or a Western Philosophy or a Hindu Philosophy. The answer is bleeding obvious, mate.  

What room is there for politics – politics understood not just as subject matter,  but  as  an  orientation,  a  set  of  practical  commitments –  within  philosophy?

One might ask this of Chemistry. Ilya Prigogine's work was important for Marxists in the Seventies as a way of breaking with Stalinism or Maoism and going in a more Humanist direction. However, one could ignore Prigogine's political comments and assimilate his scientific work to your own research program whatever your ideology. 

Philosophy is not useful in the way Chemistry is useful. But it frequently happens that the stupid shit of a Nazi is taken over by a Commie and vice versa. This is because that stupid shite does not in fact entail the horrible politics its conceiver thought it must do. It was just 'anything goes' stupid shite. 

Can  philosophy  itself  be  political,  or  is  it  destined  only  ever,  at  best,  to  be about politics?

Lenin and Stalin wrote turgid philosophical tomes which some Leftists felt obliged to read. The answer is obviously- 'yes'.  

.Let  me  try  to  get  straight  on  the worry. The  sceptic  who  worries  about  feminist philosophy,  but  does not  take  any  special  issue  with  feminism,  would  grant  that philosophy of feminism would be perfectly coherent– as would philosophy of X for just  about  any  X. Philosophy of  feminism  might  be boring  or uninteresting  or marginal  (or,  worst  of  all,  ‘soft’),  but it  wouldn’t  rest  on  some  sort  of conceptual error – at most just an error in taste.

What matters is whether you can get paid for doing it. This gets us back to the question of supply and demand. Meta-philosophy, for Academic philosophy, has to do with the market for academic credentials in philosophy. 

For philosophy of feminism wouldn’t be itself politically committed to feminism.

Because teaching shit is not actually doing shit.  

It would instead be merely epistemically committed to the project of knowing the truths about issues that are relevant to feminism,

But an epistemic commitment, like any commitment, may be wholly foolhardy or incompossible or hypocritical. We may all be committed to not getting old or dying and that may be a good thing for us even though we are bound to fail.  

e.g. the truths  about  the metaphysics  of  sex  and  gender, the  nature  of  patriarchy  and objectification, the ethics  of  difference  and  identity,  and  so  on. 

There are no such truths. There may be informative or entertaining assertions or insights.  

And  just  as  one needn’t be committed to the value or truth of liberalism to pursue the philosophy of liberalism,

if that's the only job one can get- sure. Otherwise the thing is stupid.  

or to the value or truth of science to engage in the philosophy of science,

but 'philosophy of science' is retarded shite.  

one  needn’t  be  politically  committed  to  feminism  in  order  to  pursue  the  philosophy of  feminism.

Very true. You may pursue the object of your love in order to hit her on the head and run off with her purse.  

Indeed, the philosophy of feminism  might  produce results  that were hostile to feminist goals or feminist orthodoxies.

Feminist orthodoxies might certainly conflict with any sensible feminist goals. But this is also true of Religious or Political orthodoxies of various types.  

But feminist  philosophy?  The  term  suggests  a  project  that  is (somehow) at  once epistemically and  politically  committed. 

There is no difficulty here. Suppose some horrible misogynist has compiled a historical encyclopaedia of every crazy woman who ever spouted metaphysical nonsense and, moreover, he has classified them in a useful way, then we would say he is a Philosopher of Feminism. He is not a Feminist Philosopher because he thinks Feminism is stupid shit. Similarly, some guy who hates Muslims may be an authority on Islamic Philosophy but can't be a Muslim Philosopher.  

On the other hand a Feminist Philosopher, like a Muslim Philosopher, is free to talk about anything which interests them. They are not obliged to know anything about the Philosophy of Feminism or Islam as the case may be. 

And  indeed,  when we  think  of,  as  it  were, the   sub-disciplines   of   feminist   philosophy –   feminist   epistemology,   feminist metaphysics,  feminist  philosophy  of  science,  feminist  philosophy  of  mind –

all of which require a feminist critique of the Patriarchal Feminism which previously prevailed.  

  it  turns out  that  feminism itself is  hardly  the sole or  even  primary subject  matter  of contemporary feminist philosophy.

Because it is done by feminists. The good news is that they can give a feminist critique of their own feminist critique of Feminist philosophy of mind because they have changed their minds about how horribly  fucked by the Patriarchy their minds really were. 

So we have a project that purports to be properly philosophical

i.e. nonsense 

– which is to say, committed to knowing the truth–

in the sense that we are committed to never dropping dead. 

and also properly feminist,   which   is   to   say in   some   sense   politically   committed   to   women’s emancipation.

Sadly, that sense tends to involve scratching the eyes out of every other woman with the same commitment.  

And  it  is  at  least  a prima  facie  puzzle  to  wonder  how such  a  project could be  possible.

If these cretins get paid, then the project is possible.  

For  any  inquiry  that  is politically  committed seems  to  be epistemically suspect, but any inquiry that has no political orientation is a fortiori not feminist.(It would be, at best, the philosophy of feminism.)

No. A Feminist, like a Marxist or a Gandhian or a Conservative, may come to the conclusion that politics is not itself political. It is merely a matter of making deals. Feminist Philosophy would be about changing one's own ethos in ways that are spiritual or character building.  

Thus the  critic  of  feminist  philosophy Susan  Haack  writes  that “[t]he  rubric ‘feminist  epistemology’  is incongruous  on  its  face,  in  somewhat  the  way  of,  say, ‘Republican epistemology’” (2003, 8).

But 'epistemology' is itself no longer cool. It isn't knowledge. It is stupid cretins pretending to care about what could possibly be true.  

She goes on to warn that: What  is  most  troubling  is  that  the  label  [‘feminist epistemology’]  is designed to convey the idea that inquiry should be politicized.

No. It is the notion that you should be able to get a PhD in Quantum Mechanics by studying what Karan Barad had to say about everything save Physics. On the other hand, there are plenty of IITs which would benefit by appointing super-models as Professors of Tensor Calculus provided they didn't know any math and spent their time talking about how looking at the number 69 makes them feel.  The boys in the class will quickly prove the Reimann hypothesis if Teechur pouts a little and asks them to do it. 

And that is not  only  mistaken,  but  dangerously  so...[T]he  presupposition  on which  it  rests –that  genuine,  honest  inquiry  is  neither  possible  nor desirable –     is,     in     Bacon’s     shrewd     phrase,     a     “factitious despair”....

Honest inquiry can't be done by dishonest cretins. This is a 'supply side' issue, 

[I]nquiry is really best advanced by people with a genuine desire  to  find  out  how  things  are, 

I have a genuine desire to never become ill or die. But I'm as stupid as shit. I can't advance any useful research program in the Medical Sciences. 

who  will  be  more  persistent,  less dogmatic, and more candid than sham reasoners seeking only to make a case for some foregone conclusion...(ibid, 15).

Both are useless. But that is the only type of person willing to teach Philosophy nowadays.  

1In other words, Haack accuses feminist philosophy of committing the sin associated with  what  she  calls  the  most  ‘vulgar’  form  of pragmatism: the  sin  of taking  the usefulness of a particular claim as grounds to believe in its truth.

This is a particular claim of that vulgar sort. A claim is only useful if it gets you what you want. Even then it is only useful to you. It may be a nuisance to everybody else. Pragmatism is concerned with what is useful to all.  

In this way, feminist philosophers violate an elementary epistemic norm: that propositions are to believed only for epistemic reasons, never for practical ones.

There is no such norm. True propositions are to be believed, not false ones. 'Epistemic reasons' may claim to establish truth, but why should we believe this? Truth is truth. Reasons aren't truth.  

As such feminist philosophers are at best sham reasoners, and sham philosophers.

Reasoning may well be, like philosophy, a sham. A fool may think he is reasoning or doing philosophy. So what? The same thing is true of cretins who claim to do Chemistry which is how they came to discover a simple, inexpensive, process to turn lead into gold. 

With  a  similar  logic  but  in  an  entirely  different  spirit, the  feminist  philosopher Nancy Bauer expresses the seeming paradox thus: From    the    point    of    view    of    sceptical    philosophers...philosophy’s unimpeachable commitment to open inquiry is incompatible with feminist ‘theory,’  which,  in  their  view,  is  by  definition  constrained  by  a  political bottom  line...‘

Sadly philosophy's 'commitments' haven't translated into achievements. That's the relevant bottom line here.  Still, Feminists may gain by saying 'Anal-tickle Philosophy is totes Patriarchal as is proved by the fact that some Feminist said it thinks it is incompatible with Feminism. This proves women have been subject to epistemic rape by Dead White Males in Philosophy Departments which is why they should be defunded. 

[F]eminist  philosophy’  can  look  like  a  contradiction  in terms (2001, 19).Bauer’s  answer  to this  puzzle  is  that  feminist  philosophy  must  involve  a  radical  re-imagining  of  philosophy  itself –philosophy,  to  be  feminist,  must  becomemore concerned with lived reality, and less concerned with the metaphilosophical goal, as Bernard Williams put it, of ‘getting it right’ (1989, 3).

What was Bauer's 'radical re-imagining'? Beauvoir's warmed up sick.  What of Amia's?

. But  the  political  and  the practical  can –  and  by  necessity,  do–legitimately enter  into  our  philosophical theorising. Or so I shall argue. This  does  not  mean  I  wish  to  dismiss Bauer’s call  to  a  revolutionary  marriage between  feminism  and  philosophy. But  I  want  to  suggest  that  even  if  such a revolutionary partnership is desirable, a more modest, conventional marriage is also possible. That  is,  it  is  possible  for philosophical inquiry  to  be  politically  committed to feminism and yet be duly deferential to the demand to ‘get it right’, to respect the distinction   between   what   is   true   and   what   is   merely   useful.

There is no such distinction. Some truths are useful and worth pursuing. Others aren't. A conventional marriage involves a domestic economics which features not 'absolute freedom' but some division of labour and much budgeting and the exercise of prudence. If this yields felicity, well and good. Still, the only reason Society as a whole might be concerned with 'conventional marriages' is because they produce better quality kids with greater life-chances and thus greater potential to contribute to the nation's prosperity and security. We may change fiscal policy and manpower policy and so forth so as to promote particular types of conventional marriage. Suppose there were smart Feminists who could both make Philosophy less shit as well as help bring about desirable Political changes, then Society would have an interest in promoting such 'Feminist Philosophers'. Sadly, no such things exist. On the other hand, we do want to promote Female Entrepreneurship and women in the military because female entrepreneurs and military commanders have proved their worth and increased our security and prosperity.  

Why is Amia such a shit feminist as well as being such a shit philosopher? The answer is that her  English comprehension is poor. 

 a quick word on metaphilosophy.

i.e. discourse about philosophy. This can be Economistic- i.e. it may look at the market for philosophy- but it may be Biological- e.g. it may speculate as to which gene or neurological condition militates for the existence of the stupid thing. 

It is not the case that a metaphilosophy must itself be philosophical. Indeed, if it were, then it isn't really 'meta-philosophical', it is merely categorical or type theoretic.  

Metaphilosophical questions require  us  to  decide  on various  first-order  philosophical  questions.

Nonsense! Metaphysical questions make no such demand with respect to first order Physics questions. Why should meta-philosophical questions be different in this respect?  

There is  no  deep  distinction  between  philosophy  and  metaphilosophy.

Yes there is. Just as philosophy is not knowledge but discourse about knowledge which can take extremely ignorant and stupid forms, so to is meta-philosophy a discourse about a discourse about something of actual importance.  

If  I  am  to  have  a view about what philosophical methods are conducive to knowledge, or which bits of philosophical discourse are empty and which substantive, I must take up, whether I realise it or not, a position within the logical space of first-order philosophy

No. Having a view about philosophical method is compatible with any and every 'logical space'. The connection between them is purely arbitrary.  

– I must, that  is, presuppose  various  claims  in  epistemology, metaphysics,  philosophy  of language, and so on.

No. To have a view about a method of doing X does not presuppose that X can be done let alone that it can only be done in certain places and times.  

Thus there can be no philosophically neutral, or philosophically uncontentious,  account  of  philosophical  methodology.

Sure there can. The problem is that there is no necessary connection between any such methodology and any 'first-order' realm. No doubt, one may arbitrarily assert that the method you have conceived is applicable in such and such field, but there is no 'natural' or non-arbitrary, let alone 'absolute', proof of any such thing. 

If this were not the case there would indeed be a philosophically neutral and uncontentious (because non-arbitrary) philosophical methodology.

In ordinary English, philosophy does not mean Knowledge. It means 'love of knowledge'. But one can love a thing which does not exist or which you can never approach. One may, arbitrarily, say 'I come closer or get farther away from it under such and such circumstances'. But this is an imperative and arbitrary, not an alethic or objective, statement.  Amia seems never to have understood this. She thought studying Philosophy was a short-cut to knowledge just as she thought gassing on about Feminism was a short cut to achieving something emancipatory for her sex. She was wrong. She has condemned herself to advertising the useless of her profession while confirming the radically Feminist view that bitches be kray kray. 

So my  proposed way  of making  sense  of  ‘feminist  philosophy’ will  not  be,  and  could  not  possibly  be, philosophically uncontentious.

What is uncontentious is that it is shit.  

.In  order  to  discuss my  favoured  way  of  making  sense  of  the  notion  of  feminist philosophy, I need to say something about that famous feminist philosopher, Quine.

A smart guy but not Godel or Grothendieck or (perhaps) Voevodsky smart. It is easy to show where he, like Putnam, went wrong. 

In  his  attack  on  the  analytic/synthetic distinction, Quine  famously invoked  the notion  of  a  ‘web  of  belief’ (1951).

There is no such web. Still, at that time, it did seem that Ideologies involved 'hold come what may' beliefs and that Mathsy shite- like Arrow's theorem- might set off a domino effect such that America prevailed over the Reds and the Darkies and Homos and what have you.  

Each  person’s  set  of  beliefs  can  be  thought  of,  he suggested, as an integrated array, with the beliefs at the periphery of the web those that  the  agent  is disposed  to  give  up  in  the  face  of recalcitrant  evidence, with the beliefs  at  the  centre  those that  the  agent  is  disposed  to cleave  to,  come  what  may.

By the beginning of the Seventies, it was obvious that concurrency, complexity and computability problems meant that such a web, if it existed, would be arbitrary and 'anything goes' whereas what would actually obtain would be mimetic, hedging and 'income' effects such that cognitive dissonance or 'regret' or something else which had nothing to do with Belief would be minimized. Anyway, Knightian uncertainty means we can't and oughtn't to have a Quinean web or, indeed, an Arrow-Debreu picture of the economy.  

Our  webs  of  belief  face  the  tribunal  of  experience  as  a  whole,  and  how  each  person will respond to new evidence depends on how that whole is constructed.

Nope. The thing is too cognitively costly and, in any case, mathematically intractable. Entire Society's can abruptly abandon a particular ideology and espouse its opposite in the twinkling of an eye. Ergodics triumphs over hysteresis.  

Quine’s lovely image  offers  a  model  for  a kind  of  permissive,  minimal  rationality, a model  that acknowledges  the  fact we  are  distinguished  from  each  other  in  not  only what we believe, but in how strongly we believe it, how fiercely we cleave to it, and what  beliefs  we  are  willing  to  give  up to  hold  onto those  beliefs  we feel  most  dear.

Amia, so as to serve up the reheated vomit of the Seventies has to depend on the mathematical naivete of the Fifties which thought P must equal NP and i-languages actually exist and there would soon be 'universal translators' embedded in the helmets of the pilots of jet fighters and that the cretin Chomsky would have helped bring this about.  

What  matters,  on  such  a  view, is  how  well  the  web  as  a  whole  stands  up  to  the onslaught of experience, not the particular components that make it up.

No. What matters is whether you have an opportunity to jump from one 'web' to another. If you can't escape from a tyrant's shithole of a country stick with what keeps you safe. If you have a chance to jump over the Border fence, do so and then quickly assimilate to whatever new web keeps you fatter and safer.  

As I said, this is a radically permissive view of rationality,

No. It is stupid shite. It is not rational to devote a lot of costly cognitive effort to having a fucking web. Just do what smart peeps be doing while looking for a way to escape to somewhere better.  

one that does not sit well with  the  common  epistemological  thought that there  exist  objective  evidential probability relations between bodies of evidence and propositions,

This is not an 'epistemological' thought. It is simply the truth upon which Statistical Decision theory is founded. No doubt, some 'bodies of evidence' are imaginary or nonsensical but Stats can detect fraud precisely because it is difficult to do the necessary randomization to cover your tracks.  

or the even more common epistemological thought  that certain  combinations  of  beliefs  (say,  logical contradictions) are a fortiori irrational.

Assertions about rationality are arbitrary because rationality is itself an uncorrelated asymmetry- i.e. it can only be distinguished because of an arbitrary symmetry breaking event or observation.  

But  whatever  the  merits or  defects of  the ‘web  of  belief’ as  a  model  of  epistemic rationality,  it strikes  me  as  a  remarkably  good  model  for explaining  philosophical disagreement.

Why? Because Amia is into the warmed up sick of Shulamith Firestone type nutters from the early Seventies.  Naturally, she needs a wholly exploded theory from the paranoid Fifties to justify her stupidity. 

Every   philosopher   has   had   the   experience   of   encountering   a thoughtful,  reflective  and brilliant  colleague

Amia has no such thing. David Lewis may have started out bright but he was bonkers by the time Amia got to Collidge.  Kripke wasn't bonkers, it is true, but he found no clever strategy to defeat arbitrariness.  

who  simply disagrees  with  her,  at  a deep  and  bedrock  level. With  enough  conversation, with  enough  excavation,  it’s possible to identify the fundamental difference that divides you: a clash of intuitions, a conviction one of you has but the other lacks, a theoretical trade-off to which you respond differently. One of you opts for simplicity at the cost of counter-intuitiveness, the other embraces complexity in order to gain more plausibility.

Only because both of you ignore the elephant in the room- viz. the fact that the Math moved on fifty years ago. Anal-tickle shite didn't. The thing is garbage.  

At  Oxford  I  have  occasion  to  interact  with  utilitarians  who believe  that  we are morally obligated to stop animals from killing each other in the wild, or that we should euthanise disabled infants, or that torture is sometimes permissible.

You have to be in a pretty shitty line of work if that's the sort of folk you have to interact with at Oxford.  

When I try to understand how obviously brilliant people could believe something that I take to  be an  obvious  absurdity, 

I know they are committing a fallacy of some sort or that they are Bengali.  

I  reach  for  Quine’s  metaphor. At  the  centre  of  the utilitarian’s web of beliefs lies the conviction that happiness must be maximised and suffering  minimised.

No. There is merely an 'intensional fallacy'. Ophelimity is epistemic. It changes as information changes. Moreover, arbitrary 'uncorrelated asymmetries' give rise to bourgeois strategies. Ignoring all scientific and mathematical breakthroughs of the last sixty years just means you are stupid even if all you are concerned with is virtue signalling or getting some money from Animal Rights nutters. 

It  is  not  a  conviction  that  is  open  to  revision  in  the  face  of recalcitrant  data.

Fuck data. This is just ignorance and stupidity.  

What  I  see  as  counterexamples,  the utilitarian  simply  sees  as consequences. Meanwhile, if I ever had that utilitarian belief, it resided near the edge of  my  web, and  it  was  swiftly  discarded  when  I  grasped  what  it  would  imply  in ethical reality.

Giving beejays to hobos.  

To  take  a  non-moral  example,  consider  the  debates  about  vagueness. In  defending his  epistemicist  theory  of  vagueness –  according  to  which  there  simply  is  a  fact  of the matter about how many hairs it takes (or rather, doesn’t take) to be bald– Tim Williamson appeals  to  his  fundamental  conviction  in  classical  logic. Epistemicism about  vagueness  is  necessary  to  save  classical  logic.

Why save it? We have something better.  

Opponents  of  epistemicism, meanwhile, would rather abandon classical logic so as to be able to deny what they take to be the absurd consequences of Williamson’s view. Again in explaining these  differences, we

should admit that Williamson is as stupid as shit. Category theory should have been made compulsory for these shitheads sixty years ago.  

might appeal to Quine’s web metaphor: what explains the difference between  Williamson and  his  supervaluationist  rivals  is where the  commitment  to classical logic sits in their respective webs of belief.

Careerists have to keep trudging the same penitential treadmill because they are too stupid to make money in any other way.  

We can similarly employ the web metaphor to think of arguments between naturalists and non-naturalists, internalists and externalists, compatabilists and libertarians, Humeans and non-Humeans, and so on.

No. We can't employ a 'web metaphor' for arguments between 'originalists' and 'evolutionists' in American constitutional law. There are doctrinal differences in jurisprudence and theology exactly similar to those mentioned above. No doubt, different doctrines can arrive at the same result by a 'harmonious construction' of its own. But this 'harmonious construction' does not involve beliefs. It is hermeneutic in nature- in other words the interpretation, or 'extension', of texts or terms is changed in a certain way without any change in the information set. 

But how are we, in turn, to explain the differences between people’s webs of belief?

In the case of stupid people, stupidity is the explanation. Academic philosophy has been attracting stupider and stupider people over the last fifty years.  

Why is my web structured in one way, and yours another?

Stupidity will display hysteresis. Smart people will show more ergodicity- i.e. can quickly adopt a better doctrine with less 'path dependence'.  

Here we find ourselves appealing to psychological, cultural and sociological explanations. We might say: so-and-so studied epistemology at Oxford and so is deeply committed to externalism.

or 'such and such cretin was indoctrinated in stupid shite at Oxford so that illiterate Socioproctologists wot didn't go to Collidge can laugh heartily at the fool.'  

Or: so-and-so has a strong need for simplicity and rules, and so is inclined toward utilitarianism. Or: so-and-so is the descendent of Holocaust survivors, so has strong Kantian instincts. Or: so-and-so studied under Michael Dummett, and so is driven by an Oedipal urge to defend the law of the excluded middle. These kinds of explanations give us a way of understanding philosophical disagreement when we no longer have any reasons to offer each other.

This is foolish. A Unitarian understands that his theological disagreement with a Catholic could be ended if the latter accepts his reasons and changes his beliefs. But this won't end the disagreement between Catholicism and Unitarianism. All that the latter has managed to do is make a convert.  

Doctrines do not change when people embrace them or decide to reject them. They differ from other doctrines because of their heterogeneous historicity even if they entail exactly the same things.   

Of course, if you ask a philosopher why he is an externalist,a utilitarian, a Kantian, or a realist, he probably won’t say: because I studied at Oxford, or because I like simplicity, or because I’m the descendent of Holocaust survivors, or because I’m trying to symbolically work through my desire to kill my father.

Just as a Unitarian might say 'I believe Lord Jesus Christ is my personal Lord God and Saviour which is why I came to the Unitarian Church which, it seems to me, best explains how this can be'.  Here, the doctrine is being presented as a means to a greater end. It would be somewhat discreditable to say 'I'm a Unitarian because my parents are. Daddy will cut me out of the Will if I become a Catholic or a Buddhist.'  Yet, under some circumstances, that might be the best course. The Atheist might be put off his guard. He might see that there are tangible benefits in having a Faith founded upon a mystery. No doubt, the doctrinal disputes of the Faith Community are ridiculous. But when we find a thing funny, we fear it less. 

That would be to explain his views in terms of causes. Instead, being a philosopher, he will offer reasons: he will point to the nice, intuitive implications of his view, and to the ugly, counterintuitive implications of contrary views.

But intuition does not need to be associated with any particular doctrine. We may have the intuition that the Universe has a loving and merciful Creator. This does not by itself grant us any theological doctrine. We would have to look around and see whether there is a Credo which fits well with our intuition. But, we may not bother.  

But in the end, if met with a staunch sceptic, he will finally have to admit that his reasons give out, that his spade is turned. This is not to say that philosophers don’t know their views, just because our views are shaped by accidents of birth and enculturation– contrary to what some experimental philosophers seem to think. For reasons cannot go all the way down. If we are capable of knowing anything –that is, if scepticism is false – then it must be that some beliefs are justified without our being in a position to say why to the satisfaction of the sceptic. If scepticism is false, it must be possible to say: “I only believe this because I was born in this particular place or time or in this particular body, but yes, I know it all the same.” So recognising the sociological, psychological and cultural contingency of our philosophical worldviews doesn’t necessarily mean embracing some general metaphilosophical scepticism. But it does not mean recognising thatat a certain point we can only explain our philosophical views,not in terms of our reasons for holding them, but only in terms of the genealogy that gave rise to them.

No. As with the Unitarian who explains he was born into the faith or came to it because it was the doctrine which, probably for historical reasons, most closely matched his intuition, so too with the philosopher facing a sceptic. He emphasizes the overwhelming power or beauty of the intuition which drives him in his philosophical quest.  

One may be sceptical of a genealogy. I may not actually be the late Queen's love child by the Pope who is destined to put an end to the Anglican schism by taking the Throne. One is less sceptical of the claim made by a stupid person that they think studying philosophy might make them smart and that the reason they want to be smart is because they really want to prove that cats want to marry dogs but are prevented from doing so by Neo-Liberalism. 

we can think of the label ‘feminist philosophy’ as a way of outing oneself as having a certain genealogy that gives a certain shape to one’s philosophical worldview.

Both Feminism and Philosophy turned to shit five decades ago. Perhaps there are circles where coprophagy is considered a prestigious type of sexual kink. Outing oneself in this context may gain one a certain constituency.  

The genealogy I have in mind is of course that of a particular political formation, namely feminist political formation. To call oneself a feminist philosopher is to declare that one’s web of beliefs has been shaped by one’s encounter and identification with the battle against patriarchy.

Which would be cool if you have lots of scars and tear drop tattoos commemorating all the Patriarchs you have killed with your bare hands.  Amia herself, I need hardly say, raided Osama bin Laden's compound and freed several of his wives and concubines. 

Feminist political formation shapes the commitments one is most loathe to give up, how one weighs the balance of theoretical virtues, what one finds philosophically interesting or dull, and how suspicious one will be that received theories are driven by gendered dichotomies and elision of female experience.

This may represent 'academic politics'- i.e. battles over what gets on the curriculum- but actual politics is about funding or defunding branches of the academy. At one time it was thought women voters would want more Feminist philosophy to be taught at Uni. Then it was discovered that women didn't want to study stooooopid shit. If the thing must be taught, let it be taught by retarded darkies from shithole countries.  

Someone who ‘outs’ herself a feminist philosopher isn’t saying that the identity of certain claims as feminist provides her reasons or grounds for accepting them.

But we are welcome to conclude that such is the case. A person may not say they shat themselves but the thing can be deduced from the statement 'there's lots of chocolate cake in my under pants. How did it get there? Oooh, this chocolate cake smells and tastes really nasty! Fuck is going on?'  

Rather, she is saying that her feminist formation is in part what causes her to find these claims compelling.

Just as finding chocolate cake in your underpants which smells like shit and tastes like shit makes compelling the notion that you shat yourself.  

Her reasons for her beliefs are as they are for all of us: certain claims, for example the badness of gender oppression, simply strike her as obviously true.

Oppression is bad. But studying or teaching stupid shit is also bad.  

And it is precisely her feminist formation that has led her to be able to see such claims as obviously true. To use a term from the philosophy of science, the ‘feminist’ in ‘feminist philosophy’ indicates something about the context of discovery, that is the background conditions that lead the feminist philosopher to form her theories of the world.

Science deals with stuff like quarks and gravitons which are far outside the common ken. The 'background conditions' for doing Scientific research are wholly alien to anything in common experience. By contrast, the background conditions for recognizing 'gender oppression'  are common knowledge. No doubt, an expert statistician or lawyer may find invidious types of such oppression which have been thoroughly disguised so as to avoid prosecution under relevant legislation or case law. 

But the mere fact that certain claims are part of the feminist orthodoxy, or are conducive to feminist projects, isn’t relevant to the context of justification.

Yes it is, if Feminism is well organized and politically successful. Orthodoxy is a good thing if there is a Feminist Ideology and Political Party whose members remain 'on message' and who don't attack each other unceasingly. Sadly, third wave Feminism did not have this property. It was paranoid shite. The problem was that ordinary women could always claim to be crazier than stupid Professors. No posh bitch be kray krayer than wot I iz.  

There all that matters is that claims really are true, or at least that there is good epistemic reason to believe they are.

We don't need epistemic reasons. We need to know stuff and we need to be able to reason. The two things are not connected even though food turns into shit. But eating is different from shitting. We don't need to eat shit in order to shit nor do we need epistemic reasons in order to increase our knowledge by using our reason. 

Crucially, on this conception of what is meant by ‘feminist philosophy’, there is no betrayal here of the metaphilosophical demand to, as Bernard Williams said, ‘get it right’.For feminist philosophers can very well insist that it is precisely their socialisation as feminists that allows them to get many things in philosophy right, things that many others get wrong.

If 'socialisation as feminists' helps get feminists get things right and socialisation as philosophers gets philosophers to get philosophy right does it follow that socialisation as feminist philosophers gets feminist philosophers to get Feminist Philosophy right? No. Why? Feminist Philosophy is still a type of Philosophy. Socialisation as Philosophers trumps everything else. Being a Feminist Philosopher may hinder socialization as a Philosopher. The result may be that Feminist Philosophy stops being part of Philosophy because the Feminist Philosopher is a social outcaste.  

It is not strange, after all, to think that one’s ability to think about politics is limited without an awareness of gender oppression;

It would be very strange indeed if all the people who are very good at thinking about politics show no such awareness. 

or that one’s thinking about metaphysics will be hindered if one does not take seriously the ontology of gender;

again, this would be strange if this had never previously been the case. 

Many great mathematicians were wholly unaware of many sorts of oppression. This did not affect their work at all. Is philosophy like mathematics or is it like being a virtue signalling cunt who feels obliged to join any paranoid bandwagon of gesture politics? If it is like math, it might get funded. If it isn't why not just pay genuine paranoiacs to produce manifestos? Better yet, just appoint David Icke an emeritus Professor. He can easily show that Gender Oppression is part and parcel of a conspiracy masterminded by shape-shifting lizards from Planet X.  

or that one’s thinking about epistemology will suffer if one hasn’t reflected on the ways in which oppression shapes the possibilities for knowledge.

This is like reflecting on the way shape shifting lizards have foreclosed the possibilities of knowledge. We are actually five dimensional beings but the lizards have manipulated scientific results so this is not obvious.  

It’s not strange to think, in other words, that feminist formation
 constitutes an epistemic advantage in philosophy, just as might other kinds of progressive and radical political formations.

Which one's? Marxism? It shat the bed. Indeed, Second Wave Feminism had to keep it at a distance so as to achieve anything.  But then stupid women in shitty disciplines thought they could muscle in on the act. Third Wave Feminism imploded quite quickly in the early Seventies and propagated itself as hermetic cults chiefly concerned with denouncing each other. 

So on the view I’m proposing, feminist philosophy is not a philosophy that takes the ‘feminist’ nature of a particular view as a reason to hold it, but instead a philosophy that consciously embraces feminist political formation as a way of doing philosophy better.

Philosophy can only do philosophy better by focussing more exclusively on it. How can shouting stupid slogans make you better at thinking deep thoughts?  Amia is saying this has to do with the 'Duhem-Quine thesis'. But that applies to crucial experiments in the natural sciences. Philosophy is not a natural science. When done by cretins, it is utterly cretinous. 

The critic of feminist philosophy will likely object as follows: sure,it’s true that our webs of belief are shaped by our particular backgrounds, and that people can rationally disagree because of the different constitutions of their webs of belief. But the problem with these ‘feminist’ philosophers is that at the centre of their webs of belief lie moral and political beliefs!

In other words, if your central beliefs are philosophical you are more likely to actually be doing philosophy rather than pretending to do it while trying to brainwash your students into saying 'Penis causes Rape. Boo to Penis!'  

It’s fine to reject some ethical claim because it has counterintuitive metaphysical or epistemological implications, but you can’t do it in reverse – you can’t just reject metaphysical or epistemological views because you don’t like their ethical or political implications! In other words, according to my imagined critic, one can arrange one’s web of beliefs as one likes, so long as one doesn’t have ethical or political commitments at its centre. One must always be willing to give up ethical or political commitments in the face of metaphysical, epistemological or scientific pressure. If there are strong metaphysical, epistemological or empirical arguments that women are inferior to men, or deserve to be subjugated, or that patriarchy is a myth, then we should we be open to rejecting our feminist convictions in light of such arguments. Otherwise we are just engaged in sham reasoning.

Or Propaganda or the attempt to recruit vulnerable kids to a crazy cause.  

This strikes me as a preposterous view, but sadly no less common for that. Notice that at work here is not Quine’s web but a different metaphor: that of the ‘hard’ core of philosophy – logic, metaphysics, epistemology, language –versus the ‘soft’ periphery of ethics and politics.

Or it is simply a matter of motivation. The Feminist Philosopher is not a philosopher at all. She is merely trying to recruit feeble minded students to her crazy cause. 

Whereas on the Quinean view we can and do arrange our webs as we like, on the hardcore vs. soft-periphery view, ethics and politics must always be relegated to the margins.

If you are in the business of teaching stupid shit to retarded kids, you have a choice between drooling imbeciles and paedophiles or nutters seeking to recruit for some barmy army.  

This marginal status isn’t just one of valuation: it’s not just that metaphysics and epistemology are harder than or superior to ethics and political philosophy. It’s also that they are philosophically prior: claims in ethics and political philosophy can be trumped by metaphysics and epistemology, but not vice versa.

Similarly, in mathematical economics- i.e. Academic masturbation- if you get the math wrong the econ is also wrong whereas in actual Econ you get zero marks for getting the math right but the econ wrong. 

Our ethical commitments need to remain radically open to revision, whereas our ‘hardcore’ beliefs do not. There is much to say against such a metaphilosophical view, but I will confine myself to a few observations. First, if feminist philosophy is guilty of prioritising ethical claims over non-ethical claims, then so are many others. Ronald Dworkin, Thomas Nagel and T.M. Scanlon for example all appeal to various first-order ethical
 considerations to reject particular metaphysical conclusions and establish others,

which is why they are all shit.  

but they are rarely derided as sham reasoners.

That's because the thing is bleeding obvious. Still, if philosophy is shit, why shouldn't Feminist Philosophy be equally shit? This is Amia's argument.  

Second, notice that epistemological claims are not any less normative than ethical or political claims –

No. An epistemological claim can be positive or alethic- e.g. such and such research program will solve such and such problem or no research program can find a general solution to such and such class of problems. There can be no justification for such a claim if it simply isn't true. True, politically it may be normative to deny an obvious truth and perhaps some feel this is ethical. But no epistemology, as opposed to program of propaganda or paranoid belief system, can have any normative reason to tell stupid lies. 

consider, for example, the epistemological claim that the brain-in-a-vat is blameless for his false beliefs.

There are no brains in vats. The claim is speculative. But speculative claims are neither normative nor alethic though they may become so at some future date.  

Given that epistemological claims are themselves normative, it’s not clear why they should enjoy any priority over ethical claims.

They aren't, save in epistemology, just as ethical claims aren't given priority except in ethics, and claims of being sexually harassed by a ghost aren't given priority save by the Ghostbusters.  

Why does epistemology get to be within the unrevisable the ‘hard core’, but ethics doesn’t?

Epistemology is concerned with analyticity and hence its 'core' is wholly 'revisable'. 

If I can take as given certain epistemological assumptions, why cannot I equally take certain ethical assumptions as given?

You can do what you like. But, if you are being sexually harassed by a ghost, who are you are going to call? Feminist Philosophers or the fucking Ghostbusters?  

Third and most significantly, all philosophy, like all theory, is value-laden.

It is laden with uselessness because the only people who do it are shitheads.  

We don’t just favour some theories over others on pure evidential grounds; to select a theory from an infinite array of equally evidentially supported theories, we appeal to values,such as simplicity and elegance.

No we don't. We do what is cheap and has a high expected value. Plenty of very elegant and simple theories have had to be discarded.  

This is as true in the hard-core as within the soft. There is, as Putnam says, no fact-value distinction to be drawn.

Putnam was wrong about a lot of things- including Q.M.T. The fact is he started off smart but soon became stooopid coz he hadn't kept up with the math. Any sort of useful distinction between things with different 'extensions' can always be drawn for any specific purpose. Facts simply aren't values.

There are no theoretical claims that we accept for purely descriptive, value-less reasons.

 Either we accept that there are 'theoretical claims' for a purely descriptive, value-less reason or we consider the sentence given above to be nonsense. 

If feminist philosophers are guilty of wrongly prioritising the normative over the non-normative, then it is a crime that they share with many other philosophers.

And rapists. Does this mean feminist philosophers should be accorded the same treatment as rapists?  

But we should query the claim that it is a crime at all, given the value-ladenness of all philosophical theory.

In which case philosophers should question whether rape is a crime at all given the value-ladenness of all philosophical theory. 

A second objection to my way of making sense of feminist philosophy comes not from the critic of feminist philosophy but from the feminist herself. What exactly does a ‘feminist’ web of beliefs look like? Isn’t the very idea of a ‘feminist’ web of beliefs too reductive, not in keeping with a feminism that is properly attentive to difference and diversity?I think this worry is a good one.

A bit late for that- innit?  

I didn’t mean to suggest that there is a single thing that constitutes a ‘feminist’ web of belief, a single kind of web of beliefs that a feminist formation, and only a feminist formation, will produce. Rather, feminist webs of belief merely share a family relation: an insistence on the reality of patriarchical oppression, a suspicion of certain gendered dichotomies, an interest in the social and political, a concern for the particular and the detailed, a suspicion that much of what is taken for fact is gendered myth.

This is a description of paranoia. Feminists merely want to make things better for everybody by making things better for women. What's wrong with that? 

The connection here is not one of necessity it will be hard to identify commitments, intellectual dispositions or styles of thinking that all and only feminists possess.

Amia doesn't want to do anything which might be hard.  

But it’s important to note that the connection here isn’t one of pure contingency, either. It is rather a statistically significant, historically and culturally produced connection.

Or maybe the thing is just a fad or a ploy some shitty academics use to make themselves seem interesting or 'relevant'.  

Indeed, part of the value of the label ‘feminist philosophy’ is that it calls into question the usefulness of the philosophical distinction between contingency and necessity.

But the same could be said about 'rapist philosophy'.  

For example, my web of beliefs is, I think, correctly labelled as feminist, though there is no necessary connection between my feminist political identification and most of the features of my web. There is no necessary connection between my being a feminist and, say, my believing that racism or colonialism is a moral abomination; but to think there is no important connection here is to ignore the historical and cultural connectedness between feminist and anti-racism and anti-colonial struggles.

There is no such connection. White Nineteenth Century Feminists could be as racist as fuck. The mother of the author of the Beveridge Report was one of the foremost opponents of the Ilbert Bill because, she believed, brown people should never be in a position to judge a case involving a White woman.

I suppose one might say it would be nice if there were such a connection. But, the truth is, different interest groups need to use different strategies and to subscribe to different philosophies at different times such that, though alliances can be made, that is a matter of negotiation and building mutual confidence. Stupid nutters babbling paranoid shite only add noise to signal. 

This is the fundamental problem with Jason Stanley, like Putin, calling everybody a Nazi. This is also the problem with Amia, who doesn't give a shit about 'Gender Oppression' in her own part of the world, pretending she is making some contribution to solving what is essentially a Rich People problem. The trouble, is- for those Rich Peeps- the age of abundance is over. Psilosophy of Amia's stripe is a luxury we can't afford. 

The philosophical fetish for the necessary connection

which is what allows one to generalize. But correlation and 'Granger causality' is good enough for many practical purposes. 

should not make us lose sight of other, politically significant connections that exist between our personal formations and our philosophical beliefs.

Political significance requires either a significant percentage of the population demanding particular measures or else things which have a significant impact on the economic or security position of the country. It is true that a dictator or a billionaire or a politician with great charisma may have philosophical beliefs which result in politically significant actions or campaigns. However, such people would not be philosophers per se. Meanwhile, nobody cares what philosophical beliefs a nutter, like Jason Stanley, who calls everybody a Nazi, might profess. Moreover, unless every philosopher with those beliefs behaves in an equally demented manner- there really is nothing to see her, folks. 

So, just what is the political significance of outing oneself as being shaped, qua philosopher, by feminism?

None, unless the one outing herself already has considerable political significance. This is unlikely to be the case if the person is a philosopher. 

First and obviously, outing oneself as a feminist philosopher implies that feminism is not a shameful label:

is being homosexual 'shameful'? No!  People stayed in the closet because of violent, relentless, homophobia.  

that it is a good thing, or at least not a bad thing, to be a feminist.

In which case it is desirable that people of all faiths, ideologies, philosophical predilections, etc. should be feminists. 

Second, it implies that ‘feminist’ is not a label that any truth-loving intellectual should eschew.

Should men be allowed to take female gender without any sort surgical procedure? How about a Salafi intellectual. Should he be classed as a Feminist if that is what he says he is?   

It implies that there is no tension between the goals of truth-seeking and feminist political commitment;

because neither genuinely obtain.  

indeed it implies that being a feminist is a particularly good way of seeking philosophical truth, and that those who aren’t shaped by feminism might as a result be philosophically inadequate.

Yet, there are no great feminist philosophers anywhere in the world. There are great female mathematicians and physicists and economists and Jurists and statesmen and so on. But the 'opportunity cost' of a woman's time is too high for her to consider getting stuck in a shitty discipline. Barcan Marcus is an example of a smart woman who should have graduated from logic to category theory instead of babbling nonsense in Philosophy of Language.  

Third, outing oneself as a feminist philosopher calls attention to what I referred to earlier as our collective genealogical shame – that is, our shame as a discipline that in the end we must admit that our spades are turned, that we believe everything we do for contingencies of birth and enculturation, that our reasons don’t go all the way down.

Why stop there? Why not out yourself as a chronic bed wetter?  

Outing ourselves as feminist philosophers calls into question the official self-conception of philosophy as that which is done from no point of view at all, a practice that is immune from the forces of history, culture and politics.

Like STEM subjects.  

One immediate practical upshot of this is that, once the official self-conception is shattered and has been replaced by what we all tacitly know about our disciplinary practice, the demand for greater diversity in philosophy becomes a matter of not just political but philosophical urgency.

But if philosophy gives up pretending to be STEM adjacent then it really doesn't matter if there is a chair in Feminism next to the chair in Voodoo in some shitty Liberal Arts College which can no longer afford to teach Shakespeare or foreign languages, let alone Latin and Greek. Come to think of it, that a description of West Virginia State University. 

There's nothing wrong with teaching Voodoo or Feminism or Socioproctology. The problem is that your students are going to get stranger and stupider year after year, decade after decade. This rubs off on you. The other Professors start avoiding you. You then get into the habit of outing yourself first as a feminist, then as a failed lesbian, and finally as a person who pees a little when she laughs. 

Given philosophy’s official self-conception, it is all too easy to think that the requirement that philosophy become more diverse is purely ethical: it is ethically important, given a commitment to equality, that philosophy include more women, more people of colour, more disabled people, more queer people, more socioeconomically oppressed people.

And here was me thinking diversity was about tapping talent in places where it might be cheap and abundant. That's what Silicon Valley did.  

And that is of course true. But once we recognise that the outputs of our philosophical theorising are radically shaped by how, where and with whom we are thrown into the world,

you are shaped by cretins because only cretins study or teach this worthless shite.  

then we will see the philosophical pressure to diversify philosophy.

It is already shit. Diversifying shit, just means more shit. A hundred years ago, there was pressure from STEM subjects to 'diversify' philosophy with the result that it became more mathsy. But STEM subjects attracted better and better quality students from all over the world precisely because the teachers were smart. There was a virtuous circle. Nobody now turns to a philosopher to elucidate anything.  

A homogenous discipline means a homogenous set of ideas, a homogenous set of intellectual products and projects. If our goal is to collectively explore logical space,

you have to do maths. Logic is very mathsy.  

collectively seek the truth, then a genealogically homogenous search party won’t be particularly good at the job.

But a heterogenous search party of retarded paranoiacs will do a worse job because they will keep claiming to have found Hitler in the chicken coop.  

Thus the movement to diversify philosophy is not some attempt to bend an epistemically impeccable discipline to the forces of progressive politics. It is rather an attempt to save a discipline from a state of epistemic impoverishment born out of its reactionary politics.

Sadly, reactionaries can make great discoveries same as anybody else. A bunch of cretins won't turn into geniuses if they change their political orientation. 

In so far as feminist philosophers advance claims that they do not themselves believe, but because those claims are amenable to feminist projects, they are engaged in an activity that is not philosophy at all, but ideological warfare.

No. It is philosophy if the claim is in regards to an open question. One may not believe in the Continuum hypothesis but still advance claims favourable to your own position on its basis. Suppose, as a feminist, I want to prove God is a woman, I may use it in conjunction with something else I don't believe, e.g. that the set of positive properties is an ultra filter. It may further be the case that there is an element of 'ideological warfare' in what I am doing. The real point I might be making is that Social Choice must use a different way of aggregating preferences. Indeed, half the population probably have the wrong preferences (i.e. they are Muth irrational) because the relevant Price equation is systematically mis-specified. 

Feminist philosophy of this sort really is a contradiction in terms, really does rest on a mistake.

The mistakes of the very very stupid make no difference whatsoever.  

But I want to apply some pressure to that thought. I want to suggest that at least in some cases it’s philosophically legitimate to argue for views that one does not oneself hold.

That's what Socrates said when he first used the term 'philosophy'. You are doing it if you can argue as well for or against the proposition in question.  

And I want to suggest that this is something philosophers do very often.For example, when I write and talk about epistemology, I often advocate for an externalist conception of epistemic justification.And in so doing, I offer reasons for believing that externalism is true, and reasons for believing that internalism is false. Indeed I present myself as believing that externalism is true, and that internalism is false. But in reality I’m not convinced that there is really a substantive debate here. For I think there are many concepts of epistemic justification, some externalist and some internalist, and so it doesn’t really make sense to talk about which is the ‘correct’ theory of epistemic justification. In some sense, I am inclined to think that internalists and externalists are having a merely verbal dispute, talking past each other.

That's true enough. The problem is that Amia is now talking past herself.  

So I don’t really believe that externalism is true and that internalism is false, although I present myself as believing just that. So why do I this? I engage in the debate, and present myself as believing in externalism, because I think there is a good question about which concept of justification is best to use – by which I mean, which concept of justification can be best put in service of radical politics.

But we already know that paranoia is what best serves 'radical politics'. It is convenient to be able to say that an Arab woman must always be able to detect Racism in a White Man. But it is equally convenient to say that your neighbour's cat infallibly detects the presence of a paedophile ring operating under cover of the Postal Service. The cat once said miaow when Oprah appeared on the TV screen. This proves she is the ring-leader.  

Politics seeks to change the world,

No. It is generally concerned with keeping things as they are.  

but philosophy leaves, as Wittgenstein says, everything in its place.

after hoovering under it, sure. Wittlesstein was fussy that way.  

But this of course is a false dichotomy. The world is shaped by the concepts and words we use to describe it.

It really isn't. That's why our planet wasn't really flat for all the aeons when we described or conceptualized it in that manner.  

Whether we call what happened in Charleston terrorism, or non-consensual sex between married people rape, or what happened to the Armenians genocide– these questions of description have real, material effect.

No. They have no fucking effect whatsoever. What has material effect is people getting together and spending a lot of money on putting their agenda into effect. The Armenians have worked very hard to get establish that what happened them was genocide. On the other hand, they may have an opportunity to do a bit of it themselves. 

And so how philosophers choose to describe the world can have real, material effect.

No. The material effect arises from the allocation of material resources to a given end.  

Indeed, sometimes by saying something often and persuasively enough– that marriage isn’t just for straight people, that men and women are equal, that transwomen are women--we can make it true.

Charismatic or entertaining people may have that ability. But philosophers are stupid and charmless.  

Perhaps there is a sort of sham in trying to change the world while seeming only to describe it, to present oneself as believing something one only hopes is true, or one hopes to make true. Perhaps someone engaged in this kind of politicised philosophy is at best a sham philosopher.

If you get paid to teach that shite, you are that type of shithead. There is nothing sham about you. What is ludicrous is Amia posing as a one woman Pussy Riot.  

Perhaps. But I’d also suggest that what philosophy itself is is up for grabs.

Who wants to grab shit? 

How we practice and talk about and theorise philosophy makes it what it is. So perhaps a fully politicised philosophy, a fully feminist philosophy, is right now a contradiction in terms. But perhaps one day it will no longer be.

Fair point. The day will come when Philosophy will be seen as the exclusive preserve of Special Needs Education. Arguably, with Professors like Amia and Jason, this has already happened.  

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