We need Leelah's Law!

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Re: We need Leelah's Law!

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Sun Mar 08, 2015 10:47 am

James wrote:You know... you could probably say anything to me and I'd take it in good grace as long as you managed to work in a Princess Bride reference. :lol:


As you wish. :mrgreen:

James wrote:In my opinion you do it far too frequently and laxly (e.g. genital mutilation contributed nothing to our discussion), and often-times in cases where an honest discussion can be had about the subject for what it is at face value. Not to say it isn't a useful tool, or that even a well-intentioned parallel can sometimes be worthwhile even if it is misunderstood.


Fair enough. In that case I'll try not to do it as often. That said, I did think the parallel was fairly explicit, at least in terms of the actual practice rather than the historical baggage that came with each.

James wrote:Sex is complicated. The 'mind' is essentially the sum of our awareness, memory, intelligence, decision making. There is much on the subject we do not understand, scientifically, and I'm not going to try and hypothesize beyond what I can learn or intelligently speculate on.

What is my position? I want society and medicine to serve people to the best of its ability. I do not want it to be inhibited by unfounded beliefs to the contrary but I support the role our beliefs play in discussion. If we have a young lady, in the body of a man, who is going to kill herself because her body is that of a man, I want her to get the body she wants so she can live and find happiness. I want to support the science behind it because it is, by any measure we have, working. The medical intervention for these extreme cases has been wildly successful (no doubt due, in large part, to the fact that people not struggling on a very deep level have absolutely no interest in considering these solutions).


Okay. I think that your conclusion does not at all follow from your premises, though.

Sex is complicated. That's true, but it's far easier to parse somatic sex than mental sex. We have an empirical basis for determining a person's somatic sex: chromosomes and physiology. We don't really have any empirical basis for determining the 'sex' of a person's consciousness, memory, intelligence or decisions, and it's more than likely that if a scientist tried to do this she would be at once accused of sexism - at the very least, her results as determined within the current bounds of our understanding would be considered inconclusive.

So, following from this. What empirical basis do we have for saying that 'we have a young lady, in the body of a man'? All we have to go on, given our present level of scientific understanding, is the subjective opinion of the physiological man in question! Now, that does count for something (hence how you can say that hormone therapy and GRS have been 'wildly successful'), but I'm not sure that it makes for evidence (yet) of an objective 'mental sex'.

James wrote:Because we know changing the mental sex has been wildly unsuccessful and has caused far more harm than good. Because we know programs designed to de-gay a person have failed, terribly.


From one perspective, this can be precisely because we simply don't know yet what constitutes a person's mental sex, and practitioners of 'conversion therapy' are messing around with mental processes they don't and can't possibly understand. On the other hand, if at some future time we are better able to understand how to change a person's mental sex in the same way we are able to change a person's physical sex, and develop the technology to ensure that a change in a person's mental sex 'sticks' in the same way that a change in a person's somatic sex does, why does one become morally preferable to the other?

If your only objection is because one 'works' and the other doesn't, and if we assume that neuroscience progresses at its current pace for the foreseeable future, that particular problem will likely be solved with subsequent technical developments in neurology. Personally, I don't think this objection will ultimately hold water - the only way we will be able to overcome the urge to play God with people's minds will be if we can first overcome the urge to play God with people's bodies.

James wrote:But these are also examples of a parent being credited with a place where a specific professional should have been regarded as the authority, so it may be inline with your argument above.


Basically, that would have been my answer, yes. I don't doubt there are terrible parents out there, but I argue that the solution to terrible parenting is not the further proletarianisation of parents, and further deference to technical 'experts'.

I have definite Laschian qualms about technocratic, 'expert' fields encroaching on what ought to be the prerogatives of parents. If democracy is something that you value, it cannot survive unless local communities of knowledge are not only respected but actively used and sought out. Otherwise you're left with a passive mass of people who are conditioned to be complacent in their children's upbringing until told what to do by the 'experts' - the gatekeepers of the intellectual capital needed to do something as basic and universal as 'parent'.

James wrote:Even the examples at the end where there is far more variance in knowledge hold as general truths. People certainly should, for example, avail themselves to more knowledge from their grandparents. It's a shame by the time we're barely learning to draw from our parents knowledge our grandparents are leaving us.


I agree - that's been one of my biggest personal regrets as my grandparents have died. I've tried to compensate for that in certain ways with genetic and genealogical research of my own, but there's really no substitute for what your grandparents can tell you, and what your parents can tell you about the way they lived.

James wrote:I see your point, but deviating for a moment, technical progress is going to be a huge part of solving climate change. The population is going to continue growing. Emerging economies are going to continue relying on fossil fuels. We absolutely do need technical progress in terms of making the devices and processes which exist now more energy efficient, developing alternative energy, exploring avenues such as carbon sequestration.


On a related note, have you read Fritz Schumacher? I highly recommend his book (along with Fei Xiaotong - the two kind of say similar things in different cultural contexts). He was kind of laughed off in his own time, but he's recently been reevaluated far more positively in the fields of sustainable development and ecological economics.

Development economics and sustainability being my own area of 'expertise' - population will continue growing until a certain economic equilibrium is reached and children (particularly male children in the global south) are not considered an investment good needed for their parents' basic-needs survival in their old age - after that, population growth will level off. Fossil fuel dependency is a bigger problem, and you're sort of right that this will be solved by technical 'progress' of a sort. But borrowing from Schumacher and Fei, the 'progress' we're talking about will be appropriate to its environment. It won't (and can't, if it's ecology and climate we're concerned with) be linear in the sense often assumed by modernisation theory, in which we progress to a 'higher', more consolidated level of technology than currently seen in the global north.

In addition, the global north will likely have to make do with a 'lower' level of technology than currently exists. We are still consuming, per capita, way, way more than our fair share of the Earth's energy and food resources, and (it goes without saying) far too much to be sustainable in the long run. I've sort of come to see most green-tech projects as something of a sideshow - very fun to watch, often very cool from a conceptual standpoint, but similar in most senses to the pet projects and military 'toys' favoured by DoD contractors. When the rubber hits the road, we'll always want to stick with the low-cost alternatives rather than the fancy ones.

James wrote:The contribution of philosophers is diminishing in the physical sciences (the study of inanimate natural objects, including physics, chemistry, astronomy). A genuine scientific knowledge and relevant tools are required to make new contributions as we move beyond the realm of what can be observed or contemplated deeply without scientific knowledge.


In a way, yes. But from what I'm coming to understand, the boundaries of modern science - particularly physics and astronomy - are more wrapped up in theoretical thinking and mathematics than they are in actual experimental procedure (with a few very important exceptions, like particle physics and the use of increasingly-large high-speed particle colliders, neutrino detectors and the like). String theory, for example, is still a largely mathematically-driven field, and advances consist in mathematical modelling coupled with assumptions about the nature of subatomic particles.

The rest of the conversation, I think can probably stand to be moved over to the Religion and Politics thread; I'll respond to it in addition to your last response there.
Some more blood, Chekov. The needle won't hurt, Chekov. Take off your shirt, Chekov. Roll over, Chekov. Breathe deeply, Chekov. Blood sample, Chekov! Marrow sample, Chekov! Skin sample, Chekov! If I live long enough... I'm going to run out of samples.
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