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The "Gender Role" argument. My Position


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#1 studiodekadent

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 09:39 PM

Objectivism and Gender Roles

GOAL: To prove that the Objectivist philosophy logically entails rejection of gender roles.

DEFINITIONS:
Sex: Biological features that designate someone as male, female or other
Gender: The psychological counterpart to sex, i.e. personality traits, etc.
Gender Role: How someone is meant to express their gender (i.e. how a man/woman SHOULD be
owing to their man-ness or woman-ness).

Overview: Gender roles are, in essence, moral precscriptions. The concept refers to a set
of 'dos' and 'do nots' that are applied to individuals of one sex only, with another set
being applied to the other sex (assuming a two-sex situation). If gender roles are valid,
then there are objectively proper expressions of maleness and femaleness that are to be
followed.

Proponents of gender roles have been known to use a number of arguments to back up their
claims. These arguments are addressed as follows:

ARGUMENT FROM GOD
1) Gender roles are valid due to [insert religious injunction here].
Objectivism is atheistic and antireligious. This argument fails automatically.

ARGUMENT FROM TRADITION
1) Traditional gender roles have existed for a long time.
2) Traditions should be respected.
Objectivism rejects tradition as a valid argument. This argument fails automatically. In
addition, altruism is a tradition, as is mysticism, as is political statism. Should they be
preserved because they are old? Was their longevity due to them 'working'?

ARGUMENT FROM BIOLOGY
1) There are numerous biological differences between men and women.
2) Empirically speaking, some form of gender role has existed universally in all cultures.
3) Obviously there must be some causal connection (evolutionary utility maybe?).
4) In addition, the biological difference between men and women include neurology.
5) Therefore traditional gender roles are natural.
This argument is a naturalistic argument. As such it does not fail automatically. It must
be addressed.

In response to point 1, this is true. However, in addition, there are numerous biological
differences amongst men and amongst women: biological difference has a significant
individualist component and cannot be reduced to sex difference. Not all men are identical
biologically.

In response to point 2, this is correct as well. However, the CONTENT of the gender roles
varies significantly from culture to culture. In Scotland, men can wear skirts (called
kilts). In addition, altruism as a moral code has been promoted in all cultures as well,
but that does not mean altruism is legitimate.

In response to point 3, this point is strictly speaking a logical fallacy. Correlation does
not imply causality. Secondly, the evolutionary utility argument presupposes biological
determinism (i.e. sex determines gender determines gender role), which Objectivism rejects.
Further, if biology DID determine gender roles, then there would be no such thing as
gender-deviant behavior (owing to the law of causality: things act according to their
nature). Also, even if biology determined gender and hence gender role, then the large
amount of biodiversity within each sex would mean that gender expression would still have
diversity. Evolution, after all, is driven by natural variation (diversity). Finally, the
human race is long past the point where gender roles would have any evolutionary value. We
are not living in caves any more.

In response to point 4, it is correct that neurological differences exist between sexes.
However, this does not imply that gender roles are valid. First, neurological determinism
is another form of biological determinism and is hence rejected by Objectivism. Second, if
these differences do exist and do determine behavior, then the issue is not a moral one
since it is outside the province of choice. Also, if neurological determinism were true,
there would be no such thing as gender-deviant behavior.

In response to point 5, if traditional gender roles are natural then why are they often
violated? A being cannot act in a way that is unnatural to it: a fish cannot fly. As shown
above, biology is more diverse than "XX" or "XY" chromosomes. There are more than two
chromosomes in the human genome! If evolution did determine gender roles, then there has
to be significant variation in acceptable gender behavior, and our two monolithic and polar
gender concepts are platonic floating abstractions. Finally, if all of the above biological
arguments are correct, then gender deviant behavior is amoral, not some sort of disease to
be cured.

Morality fundamentally derives from a choice to live on a level proper to the kind of being
one is, with the alternative being death. Men and Women do not have different needs for
survival and flourishing. There is nothing in the biology of women that makes being a
passive housewife a moral imperative by Objectivist standards. Indeed, such a lifestyle is
often very unfulfilling, see "The Feminine Mystique" for details on this topic (despite its
mistaken statist solution to the problem, it does correctly identify the problem).
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#2 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 05:18 AM

Morality fundamentally derives from a choice to live on a level proper to the kind of being
one is, with the alternative being death. Men and Women do not have different needs for
survival and flourishing. There is nothing in the biology of women that makes being a
passive housewife a moral imperative by Objectivist standards. Indeed, such a lifestyle is
often very unfulfilling, see "The Feminine Mystique" for details on this topic (despite its
mistaken statist solution to the problem, it does correctly identify the problem).


The only biologically determinate aspects of humans related to gender are in the areas of reproduction and physical strength. Only women bear children (barring a radical redesign of humans). Women, on average, have a lower percentage of body weight as lean muscle than men and a higher percentage of fatty tissue in body weight.

So heavy lifting and speed (without mechanical aids) is more of a male thing than a female thing (with certain notable exceptions). Machines completely level the field when it comes to physical strength capability. There is no reason why women cannot operate battle tanks or fly warplanes. There is no reason why men cannot take up a life of mending, weaving and baby care. Men can nurture, but they cannot bear. Mentally I see no difference between the sexes. You will find the same variation of intellectual ability in both the population of males and females, respectively. There is no reason why women can't be physicists and mathematicians other than individual talent.

The life of man qua man is precisely the same as the life of woman qua woman except for the two cases previously noted (reproduction and muscle mass).

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#3 studiodekadent

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 06:05 AM

So heavy lifting and speed (without mechanical aids) is more of a male thing than a female thing (with certain notable exceptions). Machines completely level the field when it comes to physical strength capability. There is no reason why women cannot operate battle tanks or fly warplanes. There is no reason why men cannot take up a life of mending, weaving and baby care. Men can nurture, but they cannot bear. Mentally I see no difference between the sexes. You will find the same variation of intellectual ability in both the population of males and females, respectively. There is no reason why women can't be physicists and mathematicians other than individual talent.


I agree with this entirely. What I am objecting to is not the idea that men and women are biologically different to an extent, but to the idea that these biological differences generate morally imperative psychological differences (i.e. that because there is a biological difference between men and women, men are meant to play with trucks and women are meant to paint their nails, and any deviance is a moral failing).

I certainly concede that only women can bear children. I just dont see why some people in society (not you, obviously) take this to mean that in all their lives, women have a categorical imperative to be incarcerated in the kitchen.
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#4 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 07:55 AM

I certainly concede that only women can bear children. I just dont see why some people in society (not you, obviously) take this to mean that in all their lives, women have a categorical imperative to be incarcerated in the kitchen.



An attitude like that is just a habit and a bad one, at that.

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#5 Barbara Branden

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 03:46 PM

GOAL: To prove that the Objectivist philosophy logically entails rejection of gender roles


Andrew, you have done everything in your article to prove your point that rationalism, rather than rationality, demands. You have looked at various arguments, you have analyzed them, you have criticized them. What you have not done is to look at reality rather than at floating concepts in order to learn about the issue. Surely the first thing one must do in order to decide what is real and what is not is to examine the facts, to look at reality, to see what exists out there and to try to understand how it came into existence and what role it plays.

It may or may not be the case that Objectivism logically entails the rejection of gender roles. But if it does, it is only reality that will tell you if it's right or wrong to do so -- not the validity or invalidity of other people's concepts.

There's more I want to say on this issue, but for the moment I hope that what I have said will start a fruitful discussion of an immensely important epistemological issue.

Barbara

#6 studiodekadent

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 10:18 PM

Andrew, you have done everything in your article to prove your point that rationalism, rather than rationality, demands. You have looked at various arguments, you have analyzed them, you have criticized them. What you have not done is to look at reality rather than at floating concepts in order to learn about the issue. Surely the first thing one must do in order to decide what is real and what is not is to examine the facts, to look at reality, to see what exists out there and to try to understand how it came into existence and what role it plays.


Barbara,

I understand your point. It is true that much of my argument is deductive, however I do rely on certain empirical facts. For example, I point out that there is a lot of diversity in how members of the same sex express their gender. Another example, I point out that even within sexes, there is much biological diversity.

Certainly, if we were to talk about floating abstractions, the gender roles I talk about are perfectly good places to start. For one, they are manifestly empirically incorrect, in that many people break their gender role at many times. If we were to take how men (in general) act and contrast it with how women (in general) act, we would find they are much closer to eachother than previously thought, rather than being from Mars and Venus.
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#7 Martin Radwin

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 10:59 PM

In the recently run Bay to Breakers, a roughly 8 mile foot race from the San Francisco Bay to the ocean, a sort of mini marathon, the race was won by a woman for the first time ever. The woman who won the race defeated an international group of male competitors. This is the first long distance male/female race that I know of that was won by a woman. This certainly is illustrative of the extent to which women are catching up to men in terms of their athletic prowess.

Is there really any doubt that men and women should not be bound by any predetermined sex roles in terms of the options that should be available to them in life?

Martin

#8 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 11:41 PM

Andrew,

Rather than deal with your rebuttals and criticisms of different "arguments" (the grouping of which I find forced and artificial), I prefer to give you some food for thought. I suggest you look into what I am giving you below and rethink your post.

1. Let's start with your goal: "To prove that the Objectivist philosophy logically entails rejection of gender roles."

In order to prove that, you have to refute Ayn Rand. I suggest you read her essay in The Voice of Reason, "About a Woman President," pp. 267-270. In this amazing piece of writing, Rand stated that a psychologically healthy woman inherently would not want to be president. To do so would be to contradict her nature as a woman. See the following quote (from the article):

For a woman to seek or desire the presidency is, in fact, so terrible a prospect of spiritual self-immolation that the woman who would seek it is psychologically unworthy of the job.

When Rand put forth the idea of "man worship," she meant "male human being," not just "human being."

I suggest you get a copy of Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand, edited by Mimi Reisel Gladstein and Chris Matthew Sciabarra. You will find much food for thought, there.

Also, I highly recommend the article, Objectivism, Venus and Mars by Robert Bidinotto. (There are about 120 posts following the article and they are worth reading.)

2. On your definitions, it is good you defined them, but there is a trap where you can easily fall into a logical fallacy. The word "gender" can mean what you mentioned, but it also can mean the physical condition of being male or female. This is common usage. See here: gender.

The logical fallacy is to imagine that your argument somehow rebuts the work of another who uses the word "gender" as meaning merely male/female (as in some of the scientific articles linked below).

3. There are physiological differences and scientific studies you should look into before making the kind of analysis you did. Here are some basic links on a quick Google search:

She Brains - He Brains
Gender and the Brain
Gender and Pain
Seasonal differences in the rhythmicity of human male and female lymphocyte blastogenic responses (abstract)
Male and Female Brains
Male, Female: The Evolution of Human Sex Differences by David C. Geary (Amazon book link)

There are plenty more high-quality discussions, articles and books on the Internet if you look.

4. See my following post from last year:

This is incidental, but when I was at Boston University in the early 1970's, I attended a few lectures by Issac Asimov. He was very entertaining.

I remember him mentioning an evolution theory for human beings. Women evolved smaller (and other things) because they are physically impaired during a fairly long pregnancy. So they stayed home and took care of the cave and did not develop prowess. Men evolved stronger (among other things) because they had to go out and kill dinosaurs and stuff for dinner.

Following that logic, Asimov said that it was women who actually prompted human progress. They developed agriculture, which they could do near the cave, while the cavemen were out hunting.

Somehow, despite the simplicity, I have a problem finding fault in these observations.

There is much more I could provide, but if you get through most of this, you will be in a much stronger position to discuss Objectivism and gender. Also, I fully agree with Barbara. Before looking at gender and Objectivism, look at gender and reality. If you must look at gender and religion, or gender and tradition, it should be for historical purposes only. There is no reason to rebut anything concerning them since it all has been rebutted long ago.

Happy reading.

Michael

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#9 studiodekadent

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 01:47 AM

1. Let's start with your goal: "To prove that the Objectivist philosophy logically entails rejection of gender roles."

In order to prove that, you have to refute Ayn Rand. I suggest you read her essay in The Voice of Reason, "About a Woman President," pp. 267-270 (originally in The Objectivist dated December 1968, although actually written in January 1969).


I am familiar with that article. I consider it in contradiction to the principles of Objectivism. I have no problem with refuting Ayn Rand in a situation where I believe she has made a genuine mistake in applying the principles of Objectivism.

I suggest you get a copy of Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand, edited by Mimi Reisel Gladstein and Chris Matthew Sciabarra. You will find much food for thought, there.


I already own it. Much of the book supports my position. For example, Gramstad's article "The Female Hero" and Susan Love Brown's "Ayn Rand, The Woman Who Would Not Be President."

2. On your definitions, it is good you defined them, but there is a trap where you can easily fall into a logical fallacy. The word "gender" can mean what you mentioned, but it also can mean the physical condition of being male or female. This is common usage. See here: gender.


I am aware that some people use different definitions. Indeed, all Objectivists are aware of definitions, since Objectivism often uses definitions that are outside 'common use.' I do my best to avoid definitional ambiguities and make sure I avoid misinterpreting other people. Im sure you and every other Objectivist does the same.

Let me put my personal cards on the table. As is well known, I am both an Objectivist and a Goth. Goth does involve 'gender-deviant behavior' (in the sense that I wear more makeup than my mother). Does the fact I wear makeup indicate that I am immoral? I have a friend, also an Objectivist Goth, who went to an ARI conference and got lambasted by others. He was asked "what would Ayn Rand think about you wearing makeup?" He answered "I dont care." He was kicked out of the conference. The fact is that "I dont care" is the perfect Objectivist answer to give. Howard Roark did not spend his life terrified of what other people thought of him, Peter Keating did.

Honestly, does the fact I have a penis somehow result in a moral imperative for me to play contact sports and not wear makeup? I dont think anyone on this board would genuinely say that it does.

Edited by studiodekadent, 25 June 2007 - 01:49 AM.

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#10 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 02:10 AM

Andrew,

I have no problem with make-up on non-gay men (or gay men, for that matter). Whatever rings your ding-a-ling. Have you ever heard of a movie called Glen or Glenda by Ed Wood? It's a hoot. Clothes, not make-up, but that was back in the 1950's. People stared, scratched their head, blinked their eyes and changed the subject as soon as it was over. I get tickled thinking about it.

I don't know much about the Goth subculture. I don't see Howard Roark or John Galt there, but I don't see them making a fuss about it, either.

Is Goth big on Crow epistemology? :)

btw - Rejection by ARI is not rejection by Objectivism. It is only rejection by the orthodoxy, and that's so frequent that it's the easiest thing in the world. It means nothing.

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#11 Kori

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 02:18 AM

WTF is Goth anyway?! I think, honestly, that it's a stupid label...nobody can really define what it is. Even if they could...ick to it all (the label, that is)! I've been called "Goth" before and I don't even know what that is. Based on my evaluation of the other people that I've heard called "Goth", I am nowhere near that! I guess being quiet when you're not talked to and wearing a black T-shirt from time to time qualifies one as "Goth"? I mean, I smile a lot...like...a LOT...but the second I'm just focusing on something and not grinning from ear to ear people are like, "What's wrong? What's wrong with you, you Goth freak?" WTF! Do I have to be smiling every second of the day? Gawd...give it a rest, wouldja? I am me. *ENDRANT*
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#12 studiodekadent

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 02:33 AM

Andrew,

I have no problem with make-up on non-gay men (or gay men, for that matter). Whatever rings your ding-a-ling. Have you ever heard of a movie called Glen or Glenda by Ed Wood? It's a hoot. Clothes, not make-up, but that was back in the 1950's. People stared, scratched their head, blinked their eyes and changed the subject as soon as it was over. I get tickled thinking about it.


I have not seen the film, but Ill put it on my 'to see' list.

I don't know much about the Goth subculture. I don't see Howard Roark or John Galt there, but I don't see them making a fuss about it, either.

Is Goth big on Crow epistemology? :)


LOL, well Goth as such is actually pretty decentralized. It doesnt have a philosophical position apart from one 'common value': a respect for individuality ("independence" in Objectivese). So in that respect, its perfectly compatible with Objectivism. Some individual Goths however do not hold positions compatible with ours. Great joke though, especially since "The Crow" is a very popular movie amongst many Goths.

As for not seeing Howard Roark or John Galt there, well you havent met me! lol.

btw - Rejection by ARI is not rejection by Objectivism. It is only rejection by the orthodoxy, and that's so frequent that it's the easiest thing in the world. It means nothing.


Thats quite true. The friend I referred to earlier is aware of it, as am I. I think that many ARIans (although probably not all of them) seem to have this form of moral sadism, they get off denouncing things.
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#13 Philip Coates

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 09:26 PM

I haven't read this whole thread yet, but must correct one factual thing: The bay to breakers race was not won by a woman. The women have a head start over the men to avoid congestion. The first woman was not caught by the first man, so she finished ahead of him even though her time was about 4 minutes slower than him, which is major in a 7.5 mile race.

The best women do not have the physical musculature to win races against the best men, either sprints or long distance. Never has happened, never will on a world class level.

#14 Martin Radwin

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 02:02 AM

I haven't read this whole thread yet, but must correct one factual thing: The bay to breakers race was not won by a woman. The women have a head start over the men to avoid congestion. The first woman was not caught by the first man, so she finished ahead of him even though her time was about 4 minutes slower than him, which is major in a 7.5 mile race.

The best women do not have the physical musculature to win races against the best men, either sprints or long distance. Never has happened, never will on a world class level.




I apologize for the misinformation. I missed the actual race itself. I listened to the post race commentary on KGO radio, where they announced that a woman had won the race for the first time. They didn't qualify this by indicating that the woman had a head start. I know that, in the bay to breakers race, the women runners start ahead of the men. But, given this fact, they should not have reported that a woman won the race. Very bad electronic journalism. But still I should have checked out the story more carefully.

Martin

#15 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 04:37 AM

I haven't read this whole thread yet, but must correct one factual thing: The bay to breakers race was not won by a woman. The women have a head start over the men to avoid congestion. The first woman was not caught by the first man, so she finished ahead of him even though her time was about 4 minutes slower than him, which is major in a 7.5 mile race.

The best women do not have the physical musculature to win races against the best men, either sprints or long distance. Never has happened, never will on a world class level.


This is especially true in a dash or a sprint. HOWEVER, in the supermarathon some 50 miles long, women have an advantage. Since about 40 percent of their body weight is fatty tissue (as opposed to 20 percent for a man in prime condition) they have a fat reserve which gives them greater stamina for a very long race.

But in athletic events requiring speed and strength, on average, men do better. For stamina women have an advantage.

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#16 Bob_Mac

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 09:16 AM

ARGUMENT FROM BIOLOGY
1) There are numerous biological differences between men and women.
2) Empirically speaking, some form of gender role has existed universally in all cultures.
3) Obviously there must be some causal connection (evolutionary utility maybe?).
4) In addition, the biological difference between men and women include neurology.
5) Therefore traditional gender roles are natural.
This argument is a naturalistic argument. As such it does not fail automatically. It must
be addressed.

In response to point 1, this is true. However, in addition, there are numerous biological
differences amongst men and amongst women: biological difference has a significant
individualist component and cannot be reduced to sex difference. Not all men are identical
biologically.

In response to point 2, this is correct as well. However, the CONTENT of the gender roles
varies significantly from culture to culture. In Scotland, men can wear skirts (called
kilts). In addition, altruism as a moral code has been promoted in all cultures as well,
but that does not mean altruism is legitimate.

In response to point 3, this point is strictly speaking a logical fallacy. Correlation does
not imply causality. Secondly, the evolutionary utility argument presupposes biological
determinism (i.e. sex determines gender determines gender role), which Objectivism rejects.
Further, if biology DID determine gender roles, then there would be no such thing as
gender-deviant behavior (owing to the law of causality: things act according to their
nature). Also, even if biology determined gender and hence gender role, then the large
amount of biodiversity within each sex would mean that gender expression would still have
diversity. Evolution, after all, is driven by natural variation (diversity). Finally, the
human race is long past the point where gender roles would have any evolutionary value. We
are not living in caves any more.

In response to point 4, it is correct that neurological differences exist between sexes.
However, this does not imply that gender roles are valid. First, neurological determinism
is another form of biological determinism and is hence rejected by Objectivism. Second, if
these differences do exist and do determine behavior, then the issue is not a moral one
since it is outside the province of choice. Also, if neurological determinism were true,
there would be no such thing as gender-deviant behavior.

In response to point 5, if traditional gender roles are natural then why are they often
violated? A being cannot act in a way that is unnatural to it: a fish cannot fly. As shown
above, biology is more diverse than "XX" or "XY" chromosomes. There are more than two
chromosomes in the human genome! If evolution did determine gender roles, then there has
to be significant variation in acceptable gender behavior, and our two monolithic and polar
gender concepts are platonic floating abstractions. Finally, if all of the above biological
arguments are correct, then gender deviant behavior is amoral, not some sort of disease to
be cured.

Morality fundamentally derives from a choice to live on a level proper to the kind of being
one is, with the alternative being death. Men and Women do not have different needs for
survival and flourishing. There is nothing in the biology of women that makes being a
passive housewife a moral imperative by Objectivist standards. Indeed, such a lifestyle is
often very unfulfilling, see "The Feminine Mystique" for details on this topic (despite its
mistaken statist solution to the problem, it does correctly identify the problem).


"Finally, the
human race is long past the point where gender roles would have any evolutionary value. We
are not living in caves any more. "

Wrong. Value? Well maybe, but that's missing the point. Influence? No way, it's huge. Evolutionarily speaking, we stepped out of the caves THIS MORNING, perhaps just one minute ago. How does this fact change your argument? Think about it.

"First, neurological determinism
is another form of biological determinism and is hence rejected by Objectivism."

Essentially, Objectivism is in direct contradiction to reality and the nature of man. However, determinism is not strict, humans are adaptable as are other animals. Perhaps 'determinism' is the wrong word. How about "biological tendencies" of various strengths.

"Second, if
these differences do exist and do determine behavior, then the issue is not a moral one
since it is outside the province of choice."

So what? Reality is reality. Morality is biological, it's built right in. This does not preclude choice.

"Also, if neurological determinism were true,
there would be no such thing as gender-deviant behavior."

Only a useless definition of determinism would make this true.

"Men and Women do not have different needs for
survival and flourishing."

Wrong. They most certainly do in biological terms of gene replication. It seems you have not grasped the very basics of evolution theory. In fact, this is the very reason why men and women are physically different in terms of secondary sex characteristics.

Objectivism and evolution are at odds, you can't agree with both. I support the one that has about a billion times more evidence in favour. Care to guess what that would be?

Bob

P.S. - Your goal: "GOAL: To prove that the Objectivist philosophy logically entails rejection of gender roles." may have actually been met, but Objectivism, where it contradicts evolution, among other areas, is wrong.

"There is nothing in the biology of women that makes being a
passive housewife a moral imperative "

Correct. There is a biological tendency for women to preferentially fulfill this role. There is also a biological tendency for women to be highly intellegent creatures just like men and have the intellectual capacity to pursue anything they damn well please. All this means is that there will be MORE women housewives and nurses and LESS women cops and athletes. Vice-versa for men. This is not a problem as long as the freedom is there.

Edited by Bob_Mac, 26 June 2007 - 09:31 AM.


#17 Pam Maltzman

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 10:53 PM

This is especially true in a dash or a sprint. HOWEVER, in the supermarathon some 50 miles long, women have an advantage. Since about 40 percent of their body weight is fatty tissue (as opposed to 20 percent for a man in prime condition) they have a fat reserve which gives them greater stamina for a very long race.

But in athletic events requiring speed and strength, on average, men do better. For stamina women have an advantage.


I've also heard that at least some women also do better than men in long-distance swimming--again, because of the body fat percentage differential.

But I agree--I'm a rather big woman (6'1") and, although strong for a woman, still I'm not as strong as most men. Every time I have moved and hired professional moving men, this point has been driven home to me--whereas, in everyday life, I don't think of it all that much. The things those guys can pick up with their bare hands amaze me. Heck, my significant other is a head shorter than me, and he's stronger than I am.

Edited by Pam Maltzman, 26 June 2007 - 10:55 PM.


#18 Pam Maltzman

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 11:02 PM

"There is nothing in the biology of women that makes being a
passive housewife a moral imperative "

Correct. There is a biological tendency for women to preferentially fulfill this role. There is also a biological tendency for women to be highly intellegent creatures just like men and have the intellectual capacity to pursue anything they damn well please. All this means is that there will be MORE women housewives and nurses and LESS women cops and athletes. Vice-versa for men. This is not a problem as long as the freedom is there.


Some of the stuff I've read over the years seems to indicate that the same hormones which are related to pregnancy and the attachment of a woman to her offspring, also makes the woman want to "nest." No, it's not a moral imperative. I think this is also related to a woman's (usual) greater desire for security... those women who want to be wives and mothers seem to function better when they're in a secure relationship and being taken care of.

And I don't think that all wives/mothers are "passive housewives." They may not be the CEO of some multinational corporation, but they are still working... they are raising children and running households, all of which requires at least some managerial skills.

When I was young enough, I didn't want to be a wife and mother myself, but I do realize that what these women do is WORK, even if that work tends to be looked down upon by other people. It's work that usually is regarded as not requiring the type of specialized skills for which other people would attend college or vocational school, because wife/mother skills are usually taught by one's parents.

No, it doesn't make being a wife/mother a "moral imperative," but there seem to be biological grounds for most women wanting to be wives/mothers.

I agree that this area is one where Objectivism and evolution would be at odds. But then (although I did and still do admire Ayn Rand's writings), I am not one of those people who thinks that Ayn Rand had the final answer to every last problem on the face of the earth.

#19 studiodekadent

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Posted 27 June 2007 - 12:36 AM

"Finally, the
human race is long past the point where gender roles would have any evolutionary value. We
are not living in caves any more. "

Wrong. Value? Well maybe, but that's missing the point. Influence? No way, it's huge. Evolutionarily speaking, we stepped out of the caves THIS MORNING, perhaps just one minute ago. How does this fact change your argument? Think about it.


I agree that evolutionary biology does have a level of influence on human beings. However, this does not make it a moral imperative to obey said influence (and as stated, if this influence overrides free will, then it is not a moral issue).

Essentially, Objectivism is in direct contradiction to reality and the nature of man. However, determinism is not strict, humans are adaptable as are other animals. Perhaps 'determinism' is the wrong word. How about "biological tendencies" of various strengths.


For these "biological tendencies," determinism is the wrong word. Determinism refers (in this context) to a belief that for some reason, people have no free will.

So what? Reality is reality. Morality is biological, it's built right in. This does not preclude choice.


Although I certainly agree that people more often than not have generally benevolent sentiments to eachother, possibly due to evolution, I do not consider this the foundation of morality (like David Hume and his followers did). Its certainly a nice fact, however.

Only a useless definition of determinism would make this true.


Well the definition that I am using is the standard definition (in the context of human free will).

Wrong. They most certainly do in biological terms of gene replication.


Im talking in terms of the survival and flourishing of the individual. Not the propagation of said individual's DNA.

"There is nothing in the biology of women that makes being a
passive housewife a moral imperative "

Correct. There is a biological tendency for women to preferentially fulfill this role. There is also a biological tendency for women to be highly intellegent creatures just like men and have the intellectual capacity to pursue anything they damn well please. All this means is that there will be MORE women housewives and nurses and LESS women cops and athletes. Vice-versa for men. This is not a problem as long as the freedom is there.


Im not saying that evolutionary biology does not result in behavioral tendencies. What I am saying is that these tendencies do not override free will and following these tendencies is not morally imperative, and hence deviating from them does not in and of itself imply a need for psychiatric 'treatment' or any specific sexuality or anything apart from personal taste.

Edited by studiodekadent, 27 June 2007 - 12:39 AM.

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#20 Bob_Mac

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Posted 27 June 2007 - 11:34 AM

Im not saying that evolutionary biology does not result in behavioral tendencies. What I am saying is that these tendencies do not override free will and following these tendencies is not morally imperative, and hence deviating from them does not in and of itself imply a need for psychiatric 'treatment' or any specific sexuality or anything apart from personal taste.


Well, you need to be more clear about what you're saying because the implications are important. Gender roles are loose, malleable, and optional but still based in biology. Humans are fundamentally adaptable and resourceful, regardless of gender. This reality has to be acknowledged before delving into gender issues. What this means is that we'll NEVER have 50% male nurses and 50% female cops, nor SHOULD we. That's a big difference compared to a static gender role mindset as well as a blindly egalitarian viewpoint exemplified by radical feminists for example. As usual, the truth, the reality, often lies in the middle ground which is often overlooked as often by Objectivists as their detractors.

Bob




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