Here I'll use the word "functionality" to refer to the range of capabilites of an object. For example a table has, within its functionality, the capability to be eaten off of. I claim here that impossible objects have absolutely no functionality - for example: santa claus, "an integer less than 1 and bigger than 2", the tooth fairy, etc, are all impossible objects and without any functionality. (Note that the lie claiming the functionality of these objects is an entity in itself, and may have functionality - e.g. inspiring kids to be good, in order to win a gift from santa. The lie retains functionality, but the entities lied about are functionless.)

I'll use the term "gender identity" here to refer to a purely-individually-determined set of characteristics. I'll use this term distinctly from "gender" (which has a more biological definition), and "gender roles" (which are a societally constructed set of attributes correlating to biological gender).

I've been considering this argument:

  1. There is only one method of gauging the functionality of an individual's gender identity: by asking the individual in question (this seems to be universally agreed upon by proponents of gender identity)
  2. Communication with an individual, concerning any entity, cannot ever prove the functionality of said entity. For example a person may communicate that "karma has the functionality of balancing moral actions". This is not proof that karma has functionality. A person could communicate a true claim, that "a table has the functionality of being eaten off of", but this does not prove that the functionality exists. An empirical test, on the other hand, could prove such things.
  3. The only method of gauging the functionality of an individual's gender identity cannot prove that such functionality exists.
  4. It is impossible to prove that any individual's gender identity has functionality.

This does not prove gender identities functionless - but it leads me to ask, what if they are?

As a society we extend certain considerations based on gender identity. In the case that gender identities are shown to be functionless, would it be ethical to continue to extend these considerations?

Are the considerations we extend based on gender identity ethically contingent on the functionality of gender identity?

  • Could downvoters comment? – Gershom Nov 13 '19 at 23:38
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    This seems to be polemics more than philosophy, and so it might fit better over on a political forum. Philosophically speaking, it's senseless: It's impossible to prove that any identity has functionality, so the discussion deteriorates into mere argle-bargle. I mean seriously: if someone claims the identity of a plumber, what 'functionality' does that have? If s'he behaves like a plumber, we'll credit h'er with being a plumber. So how is that identity-case different from gender identity? You haven't started on philosophy until you address things like that. – Ted Wrigley Nov 14 '19 at 0:19
  • I'm not sure if those questions require an edit - a "plumber" has the functionality of being able to fix plumbing. Someone's claim to be a plumber proves nothing (point #2). But "has plumber skills" is unlike "has a gender identity" - we can empirically show if a person has the functionality of a plumber by testing their ability to fix pipes. In this way gender identity is very different from many other identities. – Gershom Nov 14 '19 at 1:07
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    @TedWrigley No, there are professionals in the field that need to be identified as publicly available to fix pipes. If you eliminated the identity, those without those skills would have no way of identifying and using those people's skills. The world would change more than a bit. Men and women are used as tools in given and different ways by the culture, whether we like it or not. We retain gender identities to associate traits with roles. That makes this whole "totally interior identity" thing contrary to basic notions of language. And ex bullshit quodlibet. – user9166 Nov 14 '19 at 3:17
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    Words in certain languages have gender. Sex is biological (male/female). "Gender identity" as you said is whatever a person wants it to be. You're essentially asking about the "range of capabilities" of whatever a person wants their "gender identity" to be. That could be almost anything. – user18800 Nov 14 '19 at 4:04

You are begging the question by adopting your 1).

Everyone right of center in the populace would suggest that groups have that right to assign identities by making the demand that you fulfill a given social role established by tradition. That means other people assign our identities functionally. We can insist they are our choice, but to the degree we fail to meet the requirements of our roles, this is just a way of avoiding assigned responsibility.

So your argument comes down to 'assuming conservatism is nonsense, what if that means certain traditions mean nothing?' Since the essence of conservatism is respect for tradition your argument is circular.

  • I believe I see a flaw here: you say "given social role" and "certain traditions" (ctrl+f to pinpoint) with the same concept in mind, but the two cases are different. You've used "given social role" to refer to externally-determined traditions. But you say "certain traditions" in reference to gender identities, which are internally-determined traditions. If that's the case, this doesn't show my argument is circular. We can revere externally-determined traditions without revering internally-enforced traditions. Let me know if that makes any sense. – Gershom Nov 14 '19 at 1:18
  • @GershomMaes Only if conservatism is nonsense. From a conservative point of view, roles dictate identity through tradition. Roles exist because without them the community suffers. Identities exist to bind roles to individuals. There are no intenally-determined traditions, an individual is not a community, he has only a single instance and cannot therefore generate a tradition. A tradition is brought forward through community action. – user9166 Nov 14 '19 at 1:22
  • Basically, a consequence-free choice is always meaningless. And you are creating the illusion of a consequence-free choice, or one that modern leftist morality suggests ought to be consequence-free. Then you are asking if it would be meaningless. Of course it would. If the choice has expected consequences, then we can assess the functionality by those. And asking them is not the only way to get it. So 1) == no functionality – user9166 Nov 14 '19 at 1:27
  • Nobody asks me whether or not I am male and willing to play a male role but secretly female. My gender identity can be ascertained by my actions in society, unless I protest against that. Doing so will have consequences. The idea that I make up my gender identity is as bizarre as the idea that I make up my language. If either one is not mostly determined by cultural forces, it has no hope of meaning anything. – user9166 Nov 14 '19 at 1:42
  • This question considers what seems to be the universally accepted view of gender identity proponents, which is that gender identity is purely individually determined. If you reject the possibility that consequence-free-choices and self-generated-identities can be meaningful, the question then is: is it ethical to retract our considerations for those who believe these meaningless things are meaningful? Or should we accomodate them, and pretend as if we accept the meaning as well? – Gershom Nov 14 '19 at 4:36

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