Then from me:
Monday, April 1, 2019
ON STEM AND SOME CONSERVATIVES’ DISMISSAL OF LIBERAL ARTS
Then from me:
Then from me:
I wrote the following about one paragraph in this essay.
Me to my friends:
….If any of you care to peruse and comment, I’d be obliged:
As it happens, Ben Shapiro seems to me to have mechanistic view of sex and gender, namely a boy is a boy is a boy, a girl is a girl is a girl and and any individual’s internal confusion over that, gender dysphoria, is a disease to be cured. But without getting into the merits of Shapiro’s view—I disagree with it—what about this?
I break down one paragraph from McManus’s essay.
….Shapiro and others are well known for their crude arguments against the trans movement. But the argument that the only thing that matters is a purely scientific approach to the world inadvertently supports the position of transgender individuals (as it should)…
On transgenderism, how but by a scientific approach can we come to understand, then make judgments about it and deal with it? It involves how we’re sexually constituted, genetically wired and how in our minds we relate to our sexuality. By what but the different sciences raised by transgenderism and their integration into a workable theory can ever come to terms with it? Objection can be taken to what Shapiro thinks, but for that to be meaningful, it will need to be grounded in better science than what avails Shapiro.
…If all we care about are the facts of the world, and how they can be manipulated to service our ends, there is no intrinsic reason why the fact of our biological sex at birth cannot be manipulated if we so desire…
Firstly, how does wanting a scientific approach to transgenderism necessarily morph into tendentious reasoning? And what says that Shapiro by his argument only cares about manipulating facts to service his ends? That says he’s being a propagandist of a kind. Maybe he is but who’s to say he doesn’t sincerely reach a good faith conclusion based on his understanding of the science? And why even impugn his motives? Why not make a better argument from better science? And, finally here, why move from a complaint, as I read it, of the bad faith manipulation of facts to serve ends, to the repetition of such bad faith arguing in the service of justifying transgenderism? It deserves better than that.
…Indeed, since, according to the instrumentalist position, there can be nothing inherently wrong with pursuing the end of transcending our initial biological sex, we should be applauding those scientists who are better able to satisfy the wishes of individuals by bringing individual biology closer to that of preferred sex…
McManus earlier in this essay has described instrumental reasoning as:
…the world was little more than a collection of material objects interacting with one another according to scientific laws. The point of reason was to understand these laws, so the idle objects of the world could be manipulated and engineered to satisfy subjective human preferences. As Alasdair Macintyre puts it in After Virtue, instrumental rationality is a way of thinking about the most effective means of satisfying our desires. It remains neutral about the ends we choose to pursue, regarding all kinds of reasoning about which ends good human beings should pursue as embedded in superstitious traditionalism and religious pieties…
As I’ve noted, the dive into instrumental reasoning as here defined and applying it to transgenderism distracts us from and ought to be irrelevant to the issue wanting a proper approach. McManus could say, I suppose, “I’m just showing how Shapiro’s instrumentalism can work against him here.” But I’d say, stipulating for argument that Shapiro so reasons, “So what? It ought to be enough to say that instrumentalism has no place in a good faith discussion or debate about transgenderism and, so, enough said on that.”
….Shapiro may object that this is simply unscientific, because sex is determined at birth. But that is no real argument, since the facts about the world simply exist to be manipulated through scientific reason, which can reconfigure reality according to our wishes….
Isn’t a little incoherent to posit for Shapiro his objection based on science? He either is an instrumentalist—as McManus defines it—or he’s not. If he is, then the posit flies in the face of his instrumentalism since facts are mere means to a desired end. And if he’s not, then why parade him as one and then posit him asserting science and then on top of that then provide an instrumentalist answer to his assertion of science?
….Indeed, the more STEM fields advance, the fewer immediate barriers there will be to people doing just that. The only argument against this position is a (bad) moral one, and encouraging indifference to learning about moral argumentation can only entrench the belief that almost everything is a matter of opinion, bias and perspective….
I can’t make out this conclusion. Who’s to say instrumental reasoning follows from the advance of STEM education (in tandem with the decline in or dismissal of by certain conservatives humanities education, the main theme of the essay)? Who’s to say that STEM graduates are more likely to be instrumentalists than liberal arts majors, that an education in moral reasoning is a barrier to the instrumentalism STEM allegedly breeds? In fact, if we observe what’s going on in the humanities on college campuses, the infection by a kind of dictatorial political correctness emanating from the now current notion of intersectionalism suggests a much greater instance of instrumentalism in the humanities than in STEM faculties, which, to reverse McManus’s argument, seem a barrier to that infection.