User ID: 674
There are tens of millions of Americans who can directly trace their descent to families who lived in this country 400 years ago. I am one of them! Those people were settlers and invaders who displaced the indigenous population that had previously occupied that land; that is also true of nearly every human population group on earth.
I have ancestors who were on the Mayflower, and mostly-indigenous ancestors from Mexico, and I work with a bunch of guys from India. Even if we acknowledge the "realities of biology and heredity", my intuition is that there's plenty of "good stock" from the rest of the world that we can import into the United States to our own and their benefit. Every culture has its elites, and even "backwards" cultures like Ireland have been able to overcome low IQ's and become functional societies with an influx of resources.
It's a big 'if', but if we were able to screen every immigrant for either high-IQ or high-Conscientiousness, and remove those with violent criminal histories, I wouldn't have any issue letting in massive numbers of people into the country, up to what we could safely educate into American culture and values. America would definitely change, but that would inevitably happen even with closed borders, and an America built of either the smartest or hardest working people in the world seems like one that I would be proud to pass on to my children, even if wasn't 100% identical to the America I grew up in.
The Writer's Guild of America (WGA) is on strike as of May 2nd, after negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) broke down. While most of their demands deal with the way pay and compensation in the streaming era is structured, on the second page towards the bottom is:
- WGA PROPOSAL: Regulate use of artificial intelligence on MBA-covered projects: AI can’t write or rewrite literary material; can’t be used as source material; and MBA-covered material can’t be used to train AI.
- AMPTP OFFER: Rejected our proposal. Countered by offering annual meetings to discuss advancements in technology.
I think this is an interesting first salvo in the fight over AI in creative professions. While this is just where both parties are starting for strike negotiations, and either could shift towards a compromise, I still can't help but see a hint that AMPTP isn't super interested in foregoing the use of AI in the future.
In 2007, when the WGA went on strike for 3 months, it had a huge effect on television at the time. There was a shift to unscripted programming, like reality television, and some shows with completed scripts that had been on the back burner got fast tracked to production. Part of me doubts that generative AI is really at the point where this could happen, but it would be fascinating if the AMPTP companies didn't just use traditional scabs during this strike, but supplemented them with generative AI in some way. Maybe instead of a shift to reality television, we'll look back on this as the first time AI became a significant factor in the production of scripted television and movies. Imagine seeing a "prompt engineer" credit at the end of every show you watch in the future.
It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out.
My "excuse" is that I'm vegetarian. I'm okay with doing 70% of the good of a vegan diet, while having far more options at restaurants and for cooking.
But the statement "people had it better off in time and place X" doesn't mean "I will be better off in time and place X."
Even if I agree that the general social situation of some era is better off than the general social situation of the present day, the biggest issue with going to the past is the lack of family and connection there. I'll be coming in as an isolated individual without much in the way of useful resources and skills to that era, so I think the modal outcome of me showing up in most eras is going to be miserable.
Again, if the question was different, say, "What historical era would you like to live as a member of the highest class, in a tightly-knit community with strong family support?" then my answer would change. But the base question of what historical era I want to live out the rest of my life in is going to be close to "almost no where and no when."
It doesn't hurt that I feel pretty well off in the modern era. To me, one of the only advantages of living as a stranger in the past is that I would be guaranteed that an AI apocalypse/nuclear armageddon/etc. wouldn't happen within my life time.
For me, it was fascinating to discover how males and females consider history, especially when the topic of "in which historical epoch would you like to live?" and every woman answer "now".
I'd have to answer the same way as a man. If the question was, "In which historical epoch would you like to take a month long vacation?", I have a lot of options I would pick, but that question is a bit like "In which third world country would you like to live?" except worse, because I wouldn't even be able to leverage the favorable currency exchange rate I enjoy as an American, and I wouldn't have any access to modern conveniences.
Fair enough, but even that 1.02% is just measuring the likelihood of a gender dysphoria diagnosis. I doubt that all 1.02% of people in that group are getting the full suite of medical transition. Unfortunately, we don't have good numbers on minors getting surgeries, HRT or puberty blockers.
I still stand by my original statement. 1.5% of an opioid overdose death is a much scarier possibility than the apparently 1.02% chance your child gets a gender dysphoria diagnosis. Especially with how many gender-non-conforming children desist by the end of puberty, I actually find it fairly likely that the 1.02% is still something you should weigh less than other ways your child's life might end up being screwed up.
There are 17 states that have passed anti-trans healthcare laws for minors. You could consider moving to one of those places, if this is really a big concern for you.
That said, I think this kind of worrying and paranoia is a bit overblown. Even with a double-digit percentage of Gen Z fashionably adopting non-binary identities, the number of minors actually receiving HRT, puberty blockers and surgeries is still pretty small. This Reuter's article says that there were 42,000 gender dysphoria diagnoses in 2021, and a quick search shows there were 26.2 million children in the US in the same year. Even if you assume that every child diagnosed with gender dysphoria gets the full suite of trans healthcare including surgery and sterilizing hormones, that's a 0.1% chance you kid will actually end up medically transitioning.
The odds of your kid dying in a car crash in their lifetime is ~1%. The odds of someone in the US dying of an opioid overdose is 1.5%. The odds of dying of cancer are about 14%.
I'm sure as a father, you've thought a lot about the many possible risks your child may face. But my overall advice is worry more about other more likely risks your child may face, and don't spend so much time on something that is exceedingly unlikely. I'm not even sure that trans ideology is the most likely way that your son will end up "sterilized" - environmentalist doomerism, feminism, etc. all seem like much more likely ideologies to capture a young mind, and even if you try to raise your son in a socially conservative environment, you'll never be able to keep the world entirely out.
It is a similar logic that leads me to oppose laws that mandate reporting to parents when a child expresses the possibility they have an LGBT identity. The foremost concern is the health and well being of the child in question and how disclosure of that information will impact them.
I don't know about legal mandates, but I feel like there should be a strong societal presumption in favor of telling a parent what's going on with their child, especially something massive like using new pronouns and nicknames while at school.
To me, it just seems like such a strange and unsustainable status quo to try and maintain. Are we really trying to keep major aspects of kids' lives secret from their parents, just so we can deceive the parents until they turn 18 and are able to fend for themselves? I can understand the idea of putting the needs of the child above those of the parents, but I don't get how we arrive at this as the most natural solution to the problem of, "If we tell the parents that their kid identifies as trans, the parent might freak out and do something drastic that isn't in the best interest of the child."
In fact, I think that "tearing the band-aid off" and just telling parents about trans children is the "safer" option for LGBT people on the whole. Anti-LGBT parents who might abandon or abuse their LGBT children are a tough problem to solve by government mandate, but I think a mildly anti-LGBT parent is much more likely to have a massive overreaction if they come in 6 months into their child's social transition, which has all happened behind their backs, than they would have if a teacher had reached out to them and said, "Hey, John goes by Jenny now, and prefers she/her, I thought you ought to know."
Alright, then they make it "Lucas Film'sTM Star Wars", and people would know the genuine article is Lucas Film's until the franchise got off the ground.
And a lot of this is solved by actor contracts with a clause that says, "You agree to give us first choice for sequels involving you playing this character for the next 10 years", or whatever the closest legally enforceable version of that is.
There would still be possible loopholes, I'm sure. Like Mark Hamill playing an unnamed character who is suspiciously like Luke Skywalker in every detail, but that would have been possible in our world with current copyright laws, and that didn't happen.
Eh, Lucas Films would still be the only ones with the Star Wars trademark - and thus the only ones with a movie called "Star Wars", and if they had the right contracts with their actors they would be the only ones with Luke Skywalker played by Mark Hamill, Han Solo played by Harrison Ford, etc. While my proposed copyright regime would allow for unauthorized sequels, I think they would tend to do about as well as those cheap knock offs like "The Little Panda Fighter" and "Ratatoing" do already, or all the Star Wars knock offs of the 70's and 80's. Do you think any of those would have magically been better if they had been able to use the name "Luke Skywalker" for their characters?
Plus, I think people are naturally snobby enough that people would look down on knock-offs. Look at what happened with Pokemon and Digimon in the 90's and 2000's. They're actually very different franchises with different origins (Pokemon started as a video game, Digimon started as a tamagotchi-like virtual pet), but kids on playgrounds got into endless arguments about whether Pokemon or Digimon was better, with many sticking up their noses because Digimon was supposedly a cheap Pokemon rip off. The same would happen with Columbia's Star Wars knock off, which couldn't even be called "Star Wars" due to trademark issues.
I just don't think the risk of a rival studio "scooping" a rival studio's block buster movie is a very big risk of my proposed copyright regime. I think the bigger risk would be how my proposed regime affects the "little people" of the entertainment world. Imagine a big movie studio learning about popular web fiction like Worm or Unsong, and deciding to make their own unauthorized movie version of these works. While I do think social disapproval can be a slight salve for this kind of anti-social behavior - as it is in our copyright regime with cases like the creators of Superman being given good will "royalties" by DC decades after they had sold the rights for pennies, because DC wanted to maintain the good will of the fans - and it might be the case that some companies will cut deals with small creators even when they're not strictly, legally required to. There's also the possibility that an unauthorized Worm or Unsong movie would give the authors of those works the ability to leverage the copyright they do have, and make money from the original product. However, I think it's not unlikely that at least some of the time under my proposed regime small creators would put a ton of work into something only for the big players to use their idea without any payment, and they'd never be compensated by any other means.
If you agree that downloading the original Peter Pan in the US isn't "stealing" despite the perpetual UK copyright of that work, then do you agree that a person can morally object to the length of copyright terms in a country, and morally pirate all works older than a certain age?
For example, if I decide to live by a self-imposed 28-year "moral copyright" code, where I only pirate things older than 28 years old (the original copyright term in 1790 in the United States), do you think I am stealing when I download a work from 1993? (If you think 28 years is too short, substitute some arbitrary time less than the 95 years of modern US copyright.)
IMO the salient thing which defines stealing isn't that it's zero-sum, it's that you're taking something which doesn't belong to you. So it doesn't matter that you are just copying bits, it's still stealing.
But are your moral intuitions completely in line with the law on all points of what things can be "owned" as intellectual property?
As a simple example, clothing designs can't be copyrighted in most of the world because clothing is considered utilitarian.
If I make a knock-off dress, that's completely legal. Do you consider me to be morally as bad as a person who has pirated a movie? Do you think the law should be changed to punish people who copy clothing designs as well?
Or what about board games? Game mechanics and rules are not copyrightable.
It is perfectly legal for me to make a clone of Monopoly, as long as I use my own names, art, presentation of the rules, etc. for everything. Do you think if I make such a clone that I'm "stealing" something not currently covered by law from Hasbro?
Don't get me wrong. I understand your position to a degree, but I find it highly suspicious when a moral position is identical with the law. How do you morally deal with situations like the UK granting perpetual copyright on Peter Pan, because the copyright is owned by a hospital? Do you think I'm stealing, if I download the original Peter Pan stories from Project Gutenberg in the United States, even though there's someone, somewhere in the world with a claim to ownership over that intellectual property? What about if I make my own original Peter Pan stories, since he's public domain here? If it's morally okay for me to download the original Peter Pan stories or make Peter Pan fan ficiton in the United States despite the perpetual UK copyright, is it okay to pirate copies of other works in countries that aren't party to the Berne Copyright convention?
I think with the legal concept of derivative works, they're clearly in the wrong. I also don't agree with modern copyright law on derivative works.
I'm fine with a regime where, say, "Star Wars" is a trademark, and where the specific, fixed form of the movies and books is intellectual property of Lucas Films or Disney or whoever. But I believe very strongly that someone who writes a 500 page book with Han Solo should be legally able to profit from their creation. The world doesn't benefit at all if a 500 page Star Wars fan fiction, becomes a 501 page work where all references to Star Wars IP have been scrubbed, and one page of boilerplate has been added trying to establish who San Holo our completely unique main character is.
Free-riders are going to be a significant problem with such a system.
No, in a system where everything is paid for ahead of time by patrons, there are no "free riders." Or at least, people are free riders the same way that people who get a free game during a promotion are free riders.
I'm a huge fan of Pathfinder's business model for media going forward. They make the actual rules of their game available for free. I played Pathfinder legally for half a decade, without paying Paizo a dime, and then because I was thankful for the experience I went back and bought a bunch of books from them. I was a "free rider" until I wasn't one.
I prefer that infinitely to WotC's business model for D&D, where there is no legal way to purchase PDF's for the modern books, and the only digital formats available are on proprietary websites where there's no guarantee that content will always be available. (See the recent kerfuffle with Modenkainen's Presents, where they errata'd a bunch of information out of Xanathar's and MToF and then made it so that it's impossible to buy that version of the content anymore going forward.) I would pay WotC for PDF's if I could, but they don't make the format I want to use available. So I buy the physical books, and then pirate the fan-scanned PDF's without a shred of guilt.
Piracy might be morally wrong, but I've always felt like the attempt to compare it to "stealing" is incorrect. It's in a separate category. If I steal an apple, the merchant doesn't have the apple any more. If I pirate a movie, no merchant has been deprived of a DVD or anything like that - there's just one more copy of that movie in the world.
Imagine I had a matter duplicator. I walk up to your car, duplicate it, hotwire the copy and drive away. Did I steal your car? The only moral violation I think I might have done there is violating your privacy, depending on what was in the car when I copied it.
Now, I acknowledge that in a world with widespread matter duplication, the government might impose limitations on the use of matter duplication, so that creators are incentivized to create and innovate and produce new products. But I almost think this is getting the obvious funding model backwards. In a world where it's easy to create a copy, but hard and resource intensive to create an original, it's foolish to stop the creation of copies. Money needs to enter the system somewhere, but the distribution step isn't the most obvious place for that to happen. Instead, it makes sense to me to use a patronage/crowd-funding model.
Car companies would put together a proposal that says, "We'll create a car with features X, Y, and Z and we need to collect $A in order to make it worth our while." Then people who like their cars can pay into the crowd-funding scheme, and after car is created, people can use their matter replicators to make perfect copies of the car.
I feel like media companies have resisted moving to funding models that are a better fit for the world we live in, and trying to stop the creation of new copies when literally every person has the means of creating a copy in their pocket is Quixotic at best, whatever it might mean for morality.
It seems to me that these sorts of equivocations only work in very specific circumstances and contexts.
I think it's largely a function of what is common in a particular social and material environment, and what expectations are common in a particular question-asking environment.
In a culture that's crazy about pigs, the trivia category "Famous Pigs" will probably be about non-fictional pigs. In our culture, where most people hardly interact with real pigs, the names are going to be "Babe", "Piglet", "Wilbur", etc. In both worlds, additional context can disambiguate (e.g. "Famous Literary Pigs" vs. "Famous Real-world Pigs")
Scott's idea of categorization is a pragmatic one, so I'm not sure he would agree that it's all that vulnerable to the attack of "what is a whale?" or "what is birth?"
It might be philosophically unsatisfying, but humans do just tend to categorize things in their environment, and pragmatism is fairly happy to take large swaths of categorization for granted. Something like the category "dog" just naturally emerges from a human interacting with a lot of dogs. Likely for reasons of computational and memory efficiency, we're not the kind of animal that looks at one furry quadruped and treats it as a new and completely unique entity, and then encounters a similar furry quadruped and forgets everything we've learned as we try to learn all the new and unique rules that apply to this separate entity. We find patterns, and one of those patterns is something like what we label "dog."
The boundaries of these spontaneous categories are always fuzzy and ill-defined to start. Then, when humans engage in goal-directed behavior, we take all of these spontaneous categories and find the boundaries that are most important to have a consensus on with respect to that goal-directed behavior.
Why do we have words with well-defined boundaries like "cow", "heifer", "bull", "steer", "cattle", "calf", "milk", "beef", etc.? Because for the art of cattle ranching (which groups a number of goal-directed behaviors together), all of those distinctions are important. A steer can't have offspring, but might be suitable for pulling large equipment. A heifer doesn't produce milk, a cow does. And so on, and so forth.
Just by interacting in the world, humans are going to have a fuzzy version of the "woman" and "man" categories in their heads. Depending on our needs, we can change those fuzzy borders into well-defined ones by looking at what we're using the word for. We're perfectly happy to say that Shakespeare's Othello is a "man", even though he's just a fictional representation of a man. As a fictional character, Othello can't do any of the things usually characteristic of a man - he can't actually breathe, can't eat, can't sleep, and he certainly doesn't produce sperm that could impregnate a real flesh-and-blood woman. We're happy to omit the very important context that "Othello isn't real, and any sentence said about him is about the fictional story he belongs to", because most humans can understand the concept of fiction and don't really need reminding.
I think the distinction between a trans woman and a cis woman is going to emerge at some level of the discussion, because there are goal-directed reasons to make the distinction. If a cis man wants to have his own biological children, then he'll want to impregnate a cis woman and won't have much luck with a trans woman. But... the distinction exists. Even just "trans woman" and "cis woman" captures the distinction pretty well. I think the fight over the specific word "woman" is a distraction. We have "toy bears", which we're happy to call "bears" despite them just being paint and plastic. In a trivia game asking for "famous bears" most of the "bears" will actually be fictional representations of bears, and not flesh-and-blood bears. So, why can't a "trans woman" be a "famous woman" in a trivia game?
Sure, but I wasn't proposing a self-ID regime.
I'm okay with legal hoops comparable to adoption or naturalization.
For people who haven't yet undergone the legal hoops, people can still treat them as honorary members of their identified group, the same way people might say, "You might not be my daughter, but I already feel like I'm your mother", or a close friend might say, "You still have some legal hoops to jump through, but you're just as French as anyone else in my book, and I'll fight anyone who says otherwise."
My point was that we already have many malleable socio-legal categories in society that amount to "lies" if taken absolutely literally. I fail to see how legal gender transition poses any notable risk to society's foundation.
Ultimately, the purpose of philosophy is to find the Truth, not to make policy recommendations.
But the truth is trivially easy in the trans case. No one on either side is really confused.
Ask any empirical question, and the pro- and anti-trans side can answer all these questions the same way:
Can transwomen give birth?
Can transmen produce sperm?
Do trans-women and -men typically have XX or XY chromosomes?
The fight over the specific words "woman", "man" and "gender" are shallow side shows in my opinion. They're not really part of any deep philosophical discussion. It's a simple classification question - that's philosophy 101. People are just eager to pounce on a relatively uninteresting part of the debate, because they're so sure that they have the one True definition written on the Tablets of Reality, but unfortunately such tablets don't exist, and we can't consult them even if they did.
If society has to live a lie, it certainly is at a higher cost than if it is telling the truth. You cannot train everyone to lie everyday and expect no consequences.
I think this is a little overdramatic. There are plenty of "lies" that come at very little cost in a society.
Lies like "these people may not be biologically related, but as a legal fiction they are parents and children" or "this person wasn't originally from France and isn't of French ethnicity, but now they're declaring their allegiance to France now so they're French." There are even fairly strong social taboos against pointing out the differences between adoptive parents and naturalized immigrants in most cases.
I think viewing the trans "lie" as particularly pernicious or destructive to society is an isolated demand for rigor.
I do think it's only a tiny minority of trans people claiming to be "biological men/women" of their identified gender. "Biological" as a modifier for sex and gender is one that fell by the wayside years ago - but I think words like "gametic" or "chromosomal" are much more specific while emphasizing the point being discussed.
Veronica Ivy might be viewed as an "honorary" woman, the same way adoptive parents are "honorary" parents despite their lack of biological connection to the children they're raising. But with current technology, "honorary" women lack many of the feature of cis women, such as the ability to produce large, immobile gametes or XX chromosomes. Maybe that technological barrier will be overcome some day, who knows?
They don't have to be axes if you don't want them to be. You could just view them as two different components of a person's view of trans people.
I'm imagining the trans-related equivalent of the Catholic who is morally opposed to abortion, but doesn't think it should be illegal. Or the gay man who lives with his male partner, but doesn't believe being gay should be valorized and celebrated as much as it is in society, in favor of more "traditional" family structures.
I'm sure there are people disgusted by transgenderism who don't believe that medical transition should be illegal for adults who want it, and who are okay with pronoun hospitality on a case-by-case basis. Or people who say that "transwomen are women", but who still think social contagion might be a factor that should be quelled as far as possible.
You see this kind of rhetorical move used a lot by the woke--drawing on the essentially universal consensus that the civil rights movement was a good thing, and then trying to make parallels between the activism of that era and the activism of our own, and implying that the moral questions are just as easy to answer now as they were back then.
I think to be fair, during the actual civil rights era these weren't considered easy questions to answer. We went from 4% of polled Americans supporting interracial marriage in 1959, to 94% today. The argument is that it was only because a small and annoying minority of 4% argued their point in the marketplace of ideas that support for interracial marriage can be so high today. MLK Jr. was one of the most hated men in America, and considered a dangerous radical.
Certainly, for any civil rights struggle there would have once been a time when the average American wouldn't have accepted that the thing under discussion was an easy question, even if we look back and see it as a no brainer.
I think it goes without saying that if trans activists "win", then in 40 years it will be just as "obvious" that they were right to most people.
I'll actually admit I don't quite know what they should be apologizing for. Anheuser-Busch tried to make a targeted ad that advertised to a Dylan Mulvaney-adjacent segment of the market, and didn't think other parts of their market would ever see it, let alone care about it. They were wrong.
I don't think the mere inclusion of a trans influencer in an advertising campaign is some grave offense they should have to apologize for.
Just off the top of my head, Cardi B has partnered recently with Walmart for a bunch of a commercials, and she drugged and robbed men who wanted to have sex with her in the past. This is not to say that I think people shouldn't get second chances, but what Cardi B did was way worse than any of the reasons people are angry at Dylan Mulvaney, and I doubt that anyone could meaningfully cancel Cardi B or Walmart at this point.
Context Copy link