Rebirth of Reason

Post to this threadMark all messages in this thread as readMark all messages in this thread as unread

Post 0

Monday, January 29, 2018 - 5:37pmSanction this postReply

In order for a difference between people to be considered a difference between men and women, there would at least have to be a statistical tendency for men to be more one way and women to be more another way. In some cases it might be difficult to measure things well enough to develop a solid statistical case, but there might still be enough evidence to consider a difference as at least possibly being between men and women to at least some extent.


There are at least three ways in which a difference between men and women can arise.


One is direct biological difference. Obviously there are some physiological differences here. One statement I have seen about this is that the physiological differences between the sexes are greater than the physiological differences between the races. There are probably hormonal differences between the sexes too, although this might be more complicated and harder to pin down.


Another is reactions to the biological differences. For example, masculinity and femininity are probably at least partly a matter of rational, healthy reactions to the physiological differences.


Another is culturally determined differences. These certainly exist. In some cases these are probably rational, healthy reactions to the physiological differences. But they can also be irrational and unhealthy, as in the old tradition that limited women to a very narrow set of occupations.


It can be very difficult to sort out to what extent a given difference belongs to each of these three categories, and to what extent differences in the latter two categories are rational and healthy.


I have seen speculation to the effect that the variability in mathematical ability is greater for men than for women. This would make men more common than women at both the very able end and the very unable end. It would probably be difficult both to prove anything one way or the other about this and, to the extent that it is true, to prove just why it is true.


Wikipedia says about 80% of the students admitted to veterinary school are female. Does this mean something sinister is going on? I doubt it. It probably means that the profession tends to be much more attractive to females than to males. It would be easy enough to speculate about why this is true, but harder to prove anything.


(Edited by Doug Morris on 1/29, 5:41pm)

Post 1

Monday, January 29, 2018 - 9:37pmSanction this postReply

How sad that in today's world those who speculate that there are significant biological and inherited differences between men and women, whites and blacks, and straights and gays, are so often instantly, mindlessly, and maliciously labeled "sexists", "racists", "homophobes", etc.! 

Sanction: 9, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 9, No Sanction: 0
Post 2

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - 8:54amSanction this postReply

Doug, I read this through a few times over the past couple of weeks. It bothered me right away from a "first principles" point of view, but I did not - and still do not - want to argue everything all at once, but ordering the points is difficult. So this is not a pyramid, but a mosaic.


As Ayn Rand pointed out in "Racism" even if it were established that overwhelming percentages of this group or that posssesed or lacked some attribute that would say nothing about the individual in front of you. 


To say that "most men are this" and "most women are that" is not much different than generalizing about people from the Midwest versus the South. Long ago, I heard a Prairie Home Companion skit to the tune of the Chorale from Beethoven's Ninth about how shallow Midwesterners are. We ask "How are you?" but we really do not want to know. "I'm all right. How's your wife? ".... "She's fine, too." ...  My sister-in-law is English. We were visiting them while her sisters were there. My wife and I wondered if it was just us or are they really that rude? "No, they're just English."  To use your trichotomy: are they born that way, or is it a natural reaction to being born that way, or is it a cultural reflection of the natural reaction to being born that way?  See, it does not work; there is no logic; and the empirical evidence about how cold and distsant the English are, such as it may be, would be disproved at a rugby match.



So, too, with sex and gender.


My favorite counter-example from a college anthropology class is the primitive tribe where the women go out with dragnets and clubs and catch small game. The children old enough to be off the teat but too young to work stay back at camp with the men. It seems that some time "long ago" the men convinced the women that fire is a dangerous thing that only men can tend. So, they stay home with the camp fires and the kiddos.  There's a lot of these counter-examples in just about everything that we commonly think differentiates men and women. 


Are you prior military? The Marines have a transgendered (female to male) rifleman... and now we are looking at female Army Rangers. It is not just size. In Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven, the former SEAL commander tells of the competing teams in his class at Coronado, California. The smallest guys were put into a team. The others called them Hobbits. The Hobbits won the competitions nonetheless. So, the fact that "most" men are larger than "most" women is irrelevant in the one place where it would seem be most consequential, as (in the words of Gen. James Mattis) "the battlefield has its own accounting system."  And it matters less and less as even the Marines use drones and robots in the field.  And personally, I serve with several women far more physically fit than I am.  Even though I exceed my minimums, that's about all I do. 


And on a related note, my degrees are in criminology. We know from surveys that women write more tickets than men and they have fewer complaints from the public. So, if you wanted to discriminate on the basis of sex when hiring police officers, you should shun men because they cannot do the work of women.  


Even the seemingly fundamental physical differences do not stand up as absolutes. 


And those outliers aside, we know from Old Testament Biblical scripture that some women just do not have babies. Are they not women? Then what is your definition?  It is like the definition of "life." Living things reproduce. That's easy. But crystals are not alive; and mules are.  


When it comes to living together and benefiting from civilization, Objectivism teaches a different individualism than does libertarianism. Traditionalist conservatives who are attacted to some aspects of Objectivism argue well that you have a perfect political right to discriminate on the basis of race or gender. We have had those arguments here. The unanswered questions are not about what "most" men or "most" people from Indiana are like, but what you do about it.  Because the rational individualist does not engage in self-destructive behavior - despite the libertarian arguments in support of drug addiction - the rational individualist does not discriminate among the persons they meet on irrelevant characteristics. 


(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 2/14, 9:02am)

Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Post 3

Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 2:08pmSanction this postReply



Perhaps I should have put more emphasis on the importance of allowing for individual variation.


Certainly we must always think of people and treat them as individuals, not members of collectives, whether those collectives are defined by sex or in any other way.


For the most part, I don't see anything to disagree with in your post.  


One point: as I recall, Ayn Rand defined life as "an integrative process of self-generated, self-sustaining action".  She did not mention reproduction, and maybe something could satisfy this definition without being a product of reproduction.  But all currently known living things are biological organisms, and all currently known biological organisms are products of reproduction.

Post 4

Thursday, February 22, 2018 - 3:26amSanction this postReply

Ayn Rand's defintion hinges on the word "integrated."  She used that undefined concept to avoid the fact that crystals are self-generated and self-sustaining.  Rand was brilliant at getting to first principles rather than just citing authorities whose philosophical foundations may have been weak.  Sometimes that left her (and her admirers) outside the mainstream of science. See "Ayn Rand and Evolution" by Neil Parille here in RoR.


The differences between men and women are obvious. The question remains: "What difference does it make?" When the UK granted women the right to vote in 1918, it did so by extending the franchise to all men over 21 and all property-holding women over 30.  Based on what we know today, it should have been the other way around -- if you want to go by statistical measurements...

Post 5

Thursday, February 22, 2018 - 4:44amSanction this postReply

When people use sexual statistics to argue for a policy, it may be helpful to dig more deeply into differences between men and women to clarify what can be concluded from those statistics and what can't.


Digging into differences between men and women may yield other interesting or useful information.  We certainly shouldn't suppress such inquiries, and we should evaluate them rationally on their merits.

Post to this thread

User ID Password or create a free account.