Monkeys and their toys, and what it means (and doesn't mean) for us

Somewhat surprisingly, Francois Tremblay is surprised by the results of a new study on primates that finds male monkeys prefer some kinds of toys over others. This suggests that "gender" differences may have some basis in sex after all.

I say "surprisingly" because scientifically speaking this conclusion is not at all a surprise or even really news. The research points overwhelmingly to innate differences between males and females, and anyone who follows this topic will already be familiar with it. The bulk of the resistance to the idea that there are innate sex differences seems to me to be motivated by non-scientific factors.

He muses: "What does this means for Anarchist views on gender relations, I wonder." This doesn't seem like a huge problem for me, since it already forms a part of my understanding of the world that there are real, innate differences between men and women other than the shapes/functions of their genitals. Everyone still has the right to live freely—science doesn't (and can't) challenge the moral basis for our system.

Of course, not every difference between men and women is innate. Our body of scientific knowledge leaves room for "gender" being distinct from "sex," we just need to remember that there are some biological bases for behavior. If our systems of thought don't acknowledge these kinds of facts about the world, we're in trouble. We can still fight the systematic oppression of women when we find it, because the shape of the bell curve for female intelligence has zero bearing on their rights.

More important things to consider here.

Note: I can already see some of the objections that people will have to this, so let me have it and don't pull any punches.

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Shocking

There's also a rumor that women don't have a penis. The implication for anarchism are mind-boggling.

This is what happen when you conflate libertarian anarchism, a theory of right, with a load of unrelated values and theories, such as feminism - what Micha calls I believe thick-libertarianism.

Tremblay thick libertarianism is a bit odd, I don't know if he does it purposefully but he seems to be trying to recycle every radical leftist philosophy into market anarchism, such as class struggle, and egalitarianism. I didn't know he also supported some form of gender egalitarianism, I am not surprised.

If anything, anarchism should strive to be parsimonious and coherent, that means avoiding encompassing other principles. It is very tempting when you have different philosophies to try and persuade yourself that they are part of a coherent large ensemble, and try to build your own theory of everything.

It's doomed to fail, keep it modular.

Nonsense, Arthur. No one is

Nonsense, Arthur. No one is "conflating" anything. The fact that we distinguish between thin and thick conceptions demonstrates this lack of conflating. If we were conflating, we would deny any such thing as thin libertarianism altogether.

If anyone is conflating, it is the thin libertarians who maintain that libertarians as libertarians have absolutely nothing to say about social relations other than that they are either coercive or noncoercive. We cannot say, one way or another, as libertarians, whether things like religion, tradition, modesty, gender relations, race relations, or the relationship between labor and capital have any impact whatsoever on the likelihood of achieving, maintaining, and promoting a libertarian society. Under this conflationist view, the only True Libertarianism is the one that promotes the non-aggression principle and nothing else. Insofar as anyone who claims to be a libertarian promotes anything but the NAP, they are doing so not as libertarians, but as something else.

Well, that is certainly one view of the best way to conceive of libertarianism, but it is not the only view, and to deny there are no other legitimate views of libertarianism is to conflate your view with the only legitimate view. Which is ironic, because the view that the best way to promote libertarianism, or the only "True Libertarianism", is the one that promotes the NAP and nothing else, is itself a form of thick libertarianism. It is a version of thick libertarianism that mistakenly thinks itself a version of thin libertarianism, and therefore denies the legitimacy of all other conceptions of libertarianism. The NAP itself tells us very little about how it should be promoted, other than restricting us from not violating the NAP in order to better promote the NAP. Most critics of thick libertarianism don't actually believe that everything other than the NAP is an unrelated value or theory, with no bearing whatsoever on libertarianism; they are simply confused.

The reason why we on the libertarian left "recycle every radical leftist philosophy into market anarchism, such as class struggle, and egalitarianism," is because these issues have been an integral part of market anarchism for hundreds of years, long before Murray Rothbard popped onto the scene. Far from recycling something borrowed from some other movement, left libertarians are reclaiming their 19th century anarchist heritage, which many seem to have forgotten about over the years.

It is very tempting when you have different philosophies to try and persuade yourself that they are part of a coherent large ensemble, and try to build your own theory of everything. It's doomed to fail, keep it modular.

Wishing that it was the case that one's theory on Topic X has no bearing on Topic Y does not make it so. I acknowledge the possibility that there is more of a risk of schisms and purges within an ideological movement if people come to believe that certain aspects of society are a package deal, e.g. the social existence of condition X intrinsically depends upon the social existence of condition Y. (Paraphrasing Rand: If you don't share my taste in art, get the fuck out of my political movement.) But too bad. The world does not bend to our wishes. Social facts are what they are. Deal with it.

As for the monkey news story, you guys seem to be attacking a straw man. Perhaps there are some feminists somewhere who believe that there are no innate differences whatsoever between men and women. And perhaps there are some sociobiologists or evolutionary psychologists who believe that all present observed differences between men and women are entirely the result of innate, biological process, and that socialization and culture have no effect whatsoever. But I am not familiar with either of these bogeymen (bogeypeople?), and even if we could find some examples on either side, this would imply nothing about the feminists and sociobiologists who don't share such totalizing views.

I haven't looked at this present study closely, but I'd be inclined to test some alternative explanations before concluding anything fundamental about the nature of gender. I recall a previous study which concluded that humans were better social learners than monkeys on the grounds that, in the laboratory, human infants were better at reading the faces of and following directions from the researchers than were monkey infants. Of course, the researchers happened to be adult humans, not adult monkeys, so all this study proved is that human infants were better at reading the faces of and following directions from adult humans than were infant monkeys. Had the researcher/teacher/demonstrator role been played by a fellow monkey and not a human, perhaps the infant monkeys would have performed better and the infant humans performed worse.

Notice that the study didn't show that male monkeys liked trucks and female monkeys liked dolls. It showed that make monkeys liked trucks and female monkeys liked both trucks and dolls equally. One explanation for this, from the linked article, is that "males, whether human or monkey, have a biological predisposition to certain toys." But the same researcher who gave that explanation also gave another interpretation: "Social factors undoubtedly influence children's preferences, he says, but in general boys tend to be pickier with toys than girls." In which case, the biological predisposition here is not a preference for certain kinds of toys, but a preference for pickiness. Maybe both the girls and the boys preferred wheeled toys over dolls, but the boys, for whatever reason, were willing to act on this preference while the girls, for whatever reason, did not. Was there any cost associated with exercising a preference?

From the news article:

The researchers captured play sessions on video and measured how long each monkey spent with plush versus wheeled toys. The team found that the males spent more time playing with wheeled toys, while the females played with both plush and wheeled toys equally.

Did the study take into account any power relations between the two genders? Were there any issues of scarcity with the toys, i.e. Did the male monkeys' taking of the trucks over dolls effect the availability of trucks relative to dolls for the girls? Or were there more than enough of each type of toy for both girls and boys to choose from?

His team reasoned that the choices of the monkeys wouldn't be determined by social pressures. Most of the study animals were juvenile (age one to four years), but some sub-adult and adult monkeys were included.

"They are not subject to advertising. They are not subject to parental encouragement, they are not subject to peer chastisement," Wallen says.

Why are they not subject to peer chastisement? Do monkeys not exhibit many of the same forms of social signaling as humans do? Do monkeys not exhibit many of the same, if not more, power relations that humans do? It sounds like, from the article, that these experiments were not conducted in isolation, but the monkeys all played together in the same room. Can we then conclude with scientific certainty that social pressures had nothing to do with the outcome?

Maybe we can; I'm not a monkey researcher. But these would be the sorts of questions I would ask if I was refereeing this project.

Wallen cautions against over-interpreting the results. The plush and wheeled categories served as proxies for feminine and masculine, but other toy characteristics, such as size or colour, might explain the male's behaviour, he says. Or the male monkeys might seek out more physically active toys, he says.

[...] She thinks that biological differences between sexes start the ball rolling toward learned preferences for play toys.

"There is likely to be a biological tendency that is amplified by society," she says.

This is my view as well. One need not deny the existence of gendered biological tendencies in order to be a radical feminist. Perhaps society is over-amplifying these tendencies. Perhaps these tendencies, though biological, should be actively resisted and redirected in the same way our biological tendencies toward physical violence and sweet foods are socially resisted and redirected. Demonstrating the existence of biological tendencies alone answers none of these questions for us.

Monkeys = Cute

A few things:

1. This whole "even thin libertarianism is a form of thick libertarianism" is postmodernist. By the same token, some say atheism's a religion, doing nothing is doing something, freedom is zero sum, and add your own favorite.

That'll cut different ways depending on how you feel about such deconstructions. I myself dislike them, though I'm sure I slip and employ them when attacking a distinction I dislike.*

2. Micha's charge of conflation is odd for the same reason. His ultimate charge is that Arthur is conflating his view of libertarianism with the correct view of libertarianism, which I suppose is technically a conflation, but a strange way of putting it (and also odd to complain about--of course he thinks his own view is the right view, so far as there is a right or wrong in these matters**). It would be easier to simply say Arthur's view of libertarianism is wrong.**

3. Francois, in the post under discussion, says this pokes a hole in the theory that "gender distinctions are social constructs." Not partially, or minimally, or even mostly social constructs, but simply social constructs.

So it's not particularly fair to accuse Randall of attacking a straw man (Micha speaks of "guys," but the only one I can see actually attacking the target Micha speaks of is Randall), when, assuming Francois Tremblay is a real, non-straw-filled person, Randall has identified one specific man who holds the position he's attacking (I would say Randall's characterization is uncharitable, but as Francois has not disputed the characterization, my fears would be misplaced).

Whether or not the man is representative (of whatever: leftist anarchs? radical feminists? people?) is an open question.

NB: the article under question also speaks of this study upsetting psychologists who think sexual differences are not innate--which would seem to imply those believing that exist and aren't insignificant.

(Alternatively this is just a miscommunication using the ambiguous term "gender." But no one seems to be making that point, so I leave it alone.)

Just to be clear, everything following Micha's "One need not deny the existence..." to the end of his post has not been disagreed with here (nor discussed) so far as I can see, and I doubt any of us do disagree with it. So that solidarity's the silver lining. And Micha's right that, so far as people keep thick libertarianism separate from thin libertarianism, no conflation is going on.

Neat experiment though. Monkeys are cool.

*I wash my hands afterwards.

**I used to think there was an objective answer. Now I don't. Of course, if we're speaking of the best way to convince people of libertarianism, there is a right answer--but nobody's made clear whether that's the issue.

Calling an argument

Calling an argument postmodernist isn't some sort of rebuttal, is it? Thin libertarianism, as an isolated concept describing the common denominator of libertarianism, is not a form of thick libertarianism, but thin libertarianism as an ideological strategy is a form of thick libertarianism. If you want to call that criticism postmodernist, be my guest, but I think it's just an example of an imminent critique, which long predates the rise of postmodernism. While a popular critique among postmodernists (because it doesn't require an external framework to function; it functions from within the target's own framework), one need not be a postmodernist to use and appreciate the force of the critique.

His ultimate charge is that Arthur is conflating his view of libertarianism with the correct view of libertarianism,

No, my ultimate charge is that Arthur is conflating his view of libertarianism with the only possible view of libertarianism. I am arguing for pluralism: there can be multiple conceptions of libertarianism, understanding libertarianism as a strategy for achieving and maintaining a free society. Some of these various conceptions of libertarianism are correct, in that they accurately correspond with the way the world actually works, and some are not correct. But even the mistaken conceptions still get to claim to be legitimate forms of libertarianism, so long as they share the common denominator thin libertarianism like all the other forms.

Calling an argument

Calling an argument postmodernist isn't some sort of rebuttal, is it?

You'll see in my comment that I said it depends on how one feels about the technique. If you distrust it, then yeah, it's a rebuttal. If not, then no.

No, my ultimate charge is that Arthur is conflating his view of libertarianism with the only possible view of libertarianism.

As I said, it'd be easier to just say Arthur's wrong, rather than this talk of conflation. All Arthur's saying is libertarianism should be conceived of as thin, and you're saying it should be allowed to be thick. No conflation I can see--just a disagreement.

Most of the dispute here centers on an ambiguity in the usage of "libertarianism." It is unclear whether you're talking about libertarianism as A. a philosophy, or B. a strategy for bringing about and maintaining a libertarian society. Perhaps the two are identical, but there seems to be a difference, at least to me, especially as B depends on what A is. Arthur seems to be using A, and you took it as B and went running, stridently. Best to specify what is meant by libertarianism, and go from there.

But even the mistaken conceptions still get to claim to be legitimate forms of libertarianism, so long as they share the common denominator thin libertarianism like all the other forms.

Ok. This does not seem to me the only definition of the word "legitimate" or even the most natural one (but perhaps you know an esoteric twist on it that I don't). It would probably be best to make sure others know what you mean by the word. Seems to be something like: values that don't violate libertarian rights.

How to achieve liberty

If anyone is conflating, it is the thin libertarians who maintain that libertarians as libertarians have absolutely nothing to say about social relations other than that they are either coercive or noncoercive. We cannot say, one way or another, as libertarians, whether things like religion, tradition, modesty, gender relations, race relations, or the relationship between labor and capital have any impact whatsoever on the likelihood of achieving, maintaining, and promoting a libertarian society.

That wasn't my understanding of "thick libertarianism". I had thought that thick libertarians advocate their left-wing causes for their own sake and not merely as a means to the end of achieving a libertarian society (where libertarian society is defined in the same way that thin libertarians define it - if you mean that thick libertarians have a different idea of what constitutes a libertarian society then you have actually hidden the real difference between thick and thin inside of a bogus argument about the supposed distinction and I suggest you start over).

In a previous blog entry quoting Will Wilkinson you contrasted positive with negative liberty and appeared to suggest that positive liberty was more important and that negative liberty was a means to the end of maximizing positive liberty. Now you seem to be reversing your position: now you seem to be saying that the leftist stuff is a means to the common end, i.e., you seem to be saying that positive liberty is a means to the end of maximizing negative liberty.

Thick libertarianism is not

Thick libertarianism is not synonymous with left libertarianism. One can be a right-wing thick libertarian too. Thick libertarianism is the category, left libertarianism is a type within that category.

I had thought that thick libertarians advocate their left-wing causes for their own sake and not merely as a means to the end of achieving a libertarian society

They do so for both reasons; because racism, sexism, etc. are just wrong in themselves, and also because they are functionally incompatible with a libertarian society. As a left libertarian, if I believed that, by pursuing liberty, I was very likely pursuing a society in which there was very little actual coercion but much racism, sexism, etc., then I would probably rethink my commitment to liberty. So too, as a consequentialist, if I believed that, by pursuing liberty, I was very likely pursuing a society in which there were terrible consequences, then I would probably rethink my commitment to liberty. But fortunately I don't believe either of these things; that's what makes me a libertarian.

Conversely, if I believed that, by pursuing a society in which there was very little racism, sexism, etc., I was very likely pursuing a society in which there was massive rights violations and could in no sense be considered libertarian, I would probably rethink my commitment to leftist concerns. So too, if I believed that, by pursuing a society with good consequences, I was very likely pursuing a society in which there was massive rights violations and could in no sense be considered libertarian, I would probably rethink my commitment to consequentialism. But fortunately I don't believe either of these things; that's what makes me a leftist and a consequentialist.

In a previous blog entry quoting Will Wilkinson you contrasted positive with negative liberty and appeared to suggest that positive liberty was more important and that negative liberty was a means to the end of maximizing positive liberty. Now you seem to be reversing your position: now you seem to be saying that the leftist stuff is a means to the common end, i.e., you seem to be saying that positive liberty is a means to the end of maximizing negative liberty.

True, and I still believe that positive liberty is of ultimate importance, with negative liberty and leftist stuff both being secondary. Negative liberty and leftist stuff are both sometimes means to the end of maximizing positive liberty, though they can be valuable in themselves as well. Leftist stuff is also sometimes a means to the end of promoting negative liberty, which in turn is a means to the end of promoting positive liberty. If I were to rank in increasing levels of importance my various concerns here it would be: leftist stuff -> negative liberty -> positive liberty (i.e. good consequences). But this kind of ranking is really only needed when the concerns conflict and you have to pick an overriding concern. For the most part, the concerns work in tandem with each other.

But then all libertarianism is thick libertarianism

They do so for both reasons; because racism, sexism, etc. are just wrong in themselves, and also because they are functionally incompatible with a libertarian society.

As individual persons with their own reasons they probably do, but as libertarians they do not do so for both reasons. At least, this seems to be what you are saying now: that thick libertarians as libertarians seek to eliminate racism and sexism for the sake of a libertarian society.

But I have never met a libertarian who did not also have specific ideas about how to promote and sustain liberty. Anarcho-capitalists have one idea; minarchists have another idea; the Libertarian Party tries to promote liberty within the current political environment; and so on. Advocating not only liberty per se but a particular set of institutions to maintain it seems to be in common to virtually all libertarians but also seems to be your current explanation of thick libertarians. This seems to reduce the importance of your idea of thick libertarianism as you are currently explaining it, because if everything or almost everything falls on one side of a distinction then its usefulness is diminished.

So too, as a consequentialist, if I believed that, by pursuing liberty, I was very likely pursuing a society in which there were terrible consequences, then I would probably rethink my commitment to liberty.

But, just to make the point clear, what makes you a libertarian is not your reason for advocating liberty (liberty as understood by libertarians), but the fact that you advocate liberty. Others with different reasons for advocating liberty are also libertarian. My point was not about why you advocate liberty, but about why you advocate a racism- and sexism-free society. Insofar as you advocate these for their own sake, or for the sake of increasing the positive liberty of minorities and women (and maybe majorities and men), then I would not call that libertarian. But insofar as you advocate these because you think that this will increase negative liberty, which is liberty as libertarians conceive it, then that strikes me as being like the reason minarchists advocate a minimal state. The minimal state is not, after all, itself liberty, but is something extraneous to liberty which (purportedly) supports it.

Yes, (nearly) all libertarianism is thick libertarianism

As individual persons with their own reasons they probably do, but as libertarians they do not do so for both reasons.

Granted.

Advocating not only liberty per se but a particular set of institutions to maintain it seems to be in common to virtually all libertarians but also seems to be your current explanation of thick libertarians. This seems to reduce the importance of your idea of thick libertarianism as you are currently explaining it, because if everything or almost everything falls on one side of a distinction then its usefulness is diminished.

You would think that if everyone already understands that they are themselves thick libertarians, it wouldn't be so difficult to convince people that they are in fact thick libertarians! The distinction between thick and thin isn't of earth-breaking, ground-shattering importance; it's merely there to convince skeptics of what they should already know. Many libertarians are confused and seem to think there is something dangerous about tying libertarianism with other ideas, ideas which some thick libertarians believe are in some way causally connected to liberty. The purpose of this distinction is to help clarify for the confused, partly by showing them that they themselves subscribe to some "thick" ideas.

It's also important because the distinction allows us to continue using a single movement name for lots of separate and conflicting conceptions of libertarianism, without risking the schisms and purges usually associated with bundling "thick" concerns, e.g. Objectivism. The problem with orthodox Objectivists is not their thickness, but their refusal to recognize the importance of thinness as a common denominator uniting all libertarians, and thus their failure to recognize themselves as libertarians.

But insofar as you advocate these because you think that this will increase negative liberty, which is liberty as libertarians conceive it, then that strikes me as being like the reason minarchists advocate a minimal state. The minimal state is not, after all, itself liberty, but is something extraneous to liberty which (purportedly) supports it.

Yes, I think this is a fair characterization of my views. Of course, as an anarchist, I would disagree with a minarchist who claimed that a minimal state supports liberty, and instead claim that it is inimical to liberty. But I understand your comparison.

Close-mindedness

Arthur B.'s attitude is close-minded and reflects a destructive insularity. it's because of attitudes like his that Anarchists of all stripes are arguing themselves to death instead of fighting together. We must seek the good in all schools of thoughts.

I don't see how you got this

I don't see how you got this idea from what I've wrote, what I said is that we should resist the temptation to conflate different values, ideas, philosophies that are otherwise unrelated. I am not advocating insularity, bridges and parallels between different ideas can and should be explored, keeping in mind we are overly biased in seeing connections and patterns when none exist.

Since I push for a smaller definition of anarchism, I don't see how it can lead to more fighting. Right are the minimal set of rules we have to agree on to leave in society.

Going back to the matter of feminism, whether girls play with dolls or firetrucks is largely irrelevant to anarchism. And whether this behavior is genetic or cultural is itself a fake distinction as ultimately culture is a phenotypical expression.

I may have come harsh in my criticism, please let me mention that I do enjoy reading you, and generally find many of your writing interesting and thought-provoking.

what I said is that we

what I said is that we should resist the temptation to conflate different values, ideas, philosophies that are otherwise unrelated

Well, yes, we should indeed resist the temptation to say P when really not-P is the case. I think we agree. But the argument here is whether or not P or not-P is in fact the case; if we both already agreed on the answer to this question, there would be no debate.

Don't jusk ask thick libertarians to "resist the temptation to conflate different values, ideas, philosophies that are otherwise unrelated" because we already do that; instead, demonstrate to thick libertarians why these values are unrelated to libertarianism.

"I don't see how you got

"I don't see how you got this idea from what I've wrote, what I said is that we should resist the temptation to conflate different values, ideas, philosophies that are otherwise unrelated. I am not advocating insularity, bridges and parallels between different ideas can and should be explored, keeping in mind we are overly biased in seeing connections and patterns when none exist."

That's fine.

"Since I push for a smaller definition of anarchism,"

Name it.

"Going back to the matter of feminism, whether girls play with dolls or firetrucks is largely irrelevant to anarchism."

Only for someone who sees Anarchy as irrelevant to gender hierarchies.

"I may have come harsh in my criticism, please let me mention that I do enjoy reading you, and generally find many of your writing interesting and thought-provoking."

Thanks! I got rather the opposite impression.

I like to define anarchism

I like to define anarchism as a society free of institutional coercion, such as a geographical monopoly of law.

Therefore, I do see anarchy as irrelevant to gender hierarchies, they are as related as a bear and a bicycle. I am obviously not unaware that most people who claim to be anarchist are actually opposed to hierarchical relationships. I believe they are mistaken and should call themselves anarchist as the suppression of natural hierarchical relationship require institutional coercion.

I do enjoy reading you but it doesn't mean I agree :). In particular, I believe I read your claim that not paying taxes is a moral duty, an idea to which I strongly object, but that's another debate.

"I like to define anarchism

"I like to define anarchism as a society free of institutional coercion, such as a geographical monopoly of law."

That's a too simple definition.

"Therefore, I do see anarchy as irrelevant to gender hierarchies, they are as related as a bear and a bicycle. I am obviously not unaware that most people who claim to be anarchist are actually opposed to hierarchical relationships. I believe they are mistaken and should call themselves anarchist as the suppression of natural hierarchical relationship require institutional coercion."

An opinion based clearly on ignorance, since it is part of what Anarchy is, and it does not require coercion.

"I do enjoy reading you but it doesn't mean I agree :). In particular, I believe I read your claim that not paying taxes is a moral duty, an idea to which I strongly object, but that's another debate."

I don't believe in moral duty, so obviously I didn't say that. But I do believe it is a moral responsibility for anyone sane to not finance genocide and suffering. Do you think you should finance genocide and suffering? If so, why?

Anarchism

That's a too simple definition.

No it isn't. It isn't the only definition, but it isn't too simple. Wikipedia makes more or less the proper distinction between two things that go by the name of anarchy:

"Absence of government; a state of lawlessness due to the absence or inefficiency of the supreme power; political disorder."

"A theoretical social state in which there is no governing person or body of persons, but each individual has absolute liberty (without the implication of disorder)."

"Absence or non-recognition of authority and order in any given sphere."

The first two definitions have the common factor of absence of a central government (supreme power, or "governing person or body of persons"), the difference between them being whether there would be lawlessness and chaos, or not, in a state of anarchy. The third definition applies to, e.g., hierarchies in private companies and families. The first, no-supreme-power definition does not imply the second, any-sphere definition, and the second, as Arthur pointed out, in practice often requires the absence of the first.

An opinion based clearly on ignorance, since it is part of what Anarchy is, and it does not require coercion.

It is not at all clear what your argument is here, but at least part of it seems to be an argument from definition. That is, you appear to be arguing on the basis of the definition of the word "anarchy" (as you understand it). But definitions of words prove nothing about the way the world is. You say furthermore that "it does not require coercion", which is either another part of your definition of "anarchy" (in which case, again, definitions prove nothing), or else merely an assertion of the opposite of what Arthur claims. Arthur has reasons for his view, and I am aware of some of these reasons and agree with them, so from my point of view all you have done is made an unsupported and arrogant remark about Arthur.

I don't believe in moral duty, so obviously I didn't say that. But I do believe it is a moral responsibility for anyone sane to not finance genocide and suffering.

It is not at all clear to me what the difference is between a duty and a responsibility in the current context.

Do you think you should finance genocide and suffering?

The alternatives are not only "should avoid paying taxes" and "should pay taxes". A third alternative is absence of any "should" in this matter.

That's a too simple

That's a too simple definition.

What's wrong with it?

An opinion based clearly on ignorance, since it is part of what Anarchy is, and it does not require coercion.

If hierarchical relationships are natural, then preventing them from forming will require coercion. This is by the way what has been happening with the feminist movement, spawning gender discrimination laws.

As I said, I am aware that many so-called anarchists include the fighting of hierarchical relationship in Anarchy. I am not ignorant, they are just wrong.

I don't believe in moral duty

Don't you think you have a duty to compensate tort victims for example? There can be duties, but you get them by consenting or by doing something bad.

But I do believe it is a moral responsibility for anyone sane to not finance genocide and suffering.

Do you care to elaborate what you mean by responsibility? Am I, as a coerced tax-payer responsible for the suffering of the people being killed?

Do you think you should finance genocide and suffering? If so, why?

I think I should not sacrifice my legal security and my income to diminish the genocide and suffering of strangers.

Naturalist Fallacy

If hierarchical relationships are natural, then preventing them from forming will require coercion.

So preventing anything natural from forming requires coercion? It is natural for us to want to fill up on sweets and other unhealthy foods, because our instincts evolved in a very different kind of society than the current one. Does this mean that the only way to maintain a healthy diet is through coercion?

Because of our anti-foreign bias, it is natural for us to fear and feel antagonistic towards foreigners, leading us to support such policies as trade restrictions and anti-immigration laws. Does this mean that the only way to prevent trade restrictions and anti-immigration laws is through coercion?

Natural

Natural as in spontaneous order. Natural "xenophobia" is segregation, not "anti-immigration laws". If you really oppose any form of bad eating, then ultimately you will have to use coercion to force healthy diets on people. Which is happening by the way.

Left-anarchists can not realistically change the hierarchy in male / female relationships without some heavy social engineering requiring heavy coercion, nor is it clear at all why this outcome should be morally desirable.

Rephrase then

Natural "xenophobia" is segregation, not "anti-immigration laws".

Rephrase then. Is the only way to prevent xenophobia through coercion?

If you really oppose any form of bad eating, then ultimately you will have to use coercion to force healthy diets on people.

One can oppose poor eating habits by educating and persuading others who may not be aware that their natural instincts are harmful to them. Perhaps our disagreement here is based on my use of the word "prevent"; replace it with "discourage." Even if we cannot ultimately prevent everyone from making mistakes, we can certainly discourage them from doing so in noncoercive ways.

Left-anarchists can not realistically change the hierarchy in male / female relationships without some heavy social engineering requiring heavy coercion,

So you assert. Almost everyone used to believe that the gender hierarchies of their time were natural and unavoidable - until those gender hierarchies started to change. Imagine what someone from 200 years ago would think if they saw the current state of gender hierarchies. So too, almost everyone used to believe that the racial hierarchies of their time were natural and unavoidable - until those racial hierarchies started to change. Isn't it just a little bit preposterous to think that our current gender and racial hierarchies perfectly reflect what is natural, unavoidable, and good, despite the fact that all throughout human history people systematically believed the same thing and were proven wrong again and again? Can we really be so sure we aren't making exactly the same mistake whenever we try to justify power hierarchies on innate, biological grounds?

nor is it clear at all why this outcome should be morally desirable.

Really? You see no reason why women might want to be treated equally with men, have the same opportunities, and not be prejudged (either positively or negatively) because of their gender? You really see no reason why blacks might want to live in a world without racism? You share no empathy for others and see no reason why social equality is morally desirable? Really?

No I don't understand why

No I don't understand why women might want to be treated "equally" with men. Women and men are not "equal", in fact they are not even commensurate, the whole concept of equality is meaningless here. The closest thing to what you describe would be : treated without regard for the gender... I don't see why.

If people feel better surrounded by people who look like them, I don't see anything immoral about it. Racism is at best stupid not immoral. The only reason there are historical problems with racism in the US is because of forced integration through slavery (forced for the slaves that is) and then forced integration through the end of segregation (for the rest).

Empathy is a skill I lack, I find it hard to put myself in someone else's place, but I do have compassion. I do not see "social equality" as desirable because I do not see it as meaningful in the first place.

Re: No I don't understand why

Arthur B.:

Racism is at best stupid not immoral.

So you say. But why do you say this? I can think of lots of examples where racism has led people to do incredibly violent things, which I think that you would clearly agree to be vicious. I can also think of lots of examples where racism has led people to do things that, while not violent, were extremely cruel. Do you mean to claim that that's not immoral? Or to claim that the cruelty is immoral but not the racism which produced and justified it? Or something else again?

The only reason there are historical problems with racism in the US is because of forced integration through slavery (forced for the slaves that is) and then forced integration through the end of segregation (for the rest).

Your account of the history of racism and the law in the United States has an interesting lacuna. Specifically, the period from roughly 1865 - 1965.

For a hundred years of U.S. history black people and white people were forcibly segregated, partly through the use of contractual exclusions made on the market, but mostly as the result of government segregation laws. The connection between the existence of those laws and the prevalence of white supremacism among white people, especially among politically powerful and well-connected white people, was probably not entirely accidental.

However, I might also note that, as an account of "racism" in general, your explanation is somewhat lacking. There are more races of people in the U.S. who have been subject to racism, in its various forms (especially white supremacism) than just black people. The history of white prejudice and oppression against black people is a very important part of the story about American racism, but people of American Indian, Irish, Polish, Italian, Chinese, Filipin@, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Mexican, Central American, Arab, etc. etc. etc. descent have all suffered from racist prejudices, racist exclusion, and at times racist violence, whether at the hands of mobs or at the hands of state, local, or federal government agencies. But it's very rarely the case that any of these histories involved "forced integration" of any kind prior to the mid-1960s. Therefore, I conclude that American racism and the "historical problems" associated with it probably have at least some explanatory conditions other than what you call "forced integration."

No I don't understand why women might want to be treated "equally" with men. Women and men are not "equal", in fact they are not even commensurate, the whole concept of equality is meaningless here. The closest thing to what you describe would be : treated without regard for the gender... I don't see why.

Semantically speaking, "equality" is not just used to refer to position within a quantitative range (as in "equal portions"). It's also often also used to refer to the lack of a particular difference or distinction (as in "treat me like an equal," or "equal opportunity," neither of which makes any claim about comparative quantities of treatment or opportunity). So if a woman or a group of women demand equal treatment to men, then what they're likely talking about, in perfectly good English, is treatment which doesn't make a distinction based solely on her or their sex.

As for why a woman or a group of women would want that, well, honestly, who cares whether you "see why" or not? Presumably those who are making it have their own reasons, which many of them have explained at length in conversation, in articles, in films, in music, in books, etc. If you have some specific case against those reasons as they have been presented, it would help to explain what you're taking issue with and why, by engaging with those arguments rather than just playing dumb. If you acknowledge those positions, but have some specific reason to go on insisting on making sex-based distinctions in how you treat other people, whether or not they want you not to make those distinctions, then it would help to explain what are your own reasons for insisting on making those distinctions nevertheless.

Anti-racism is dangerous. Is it immoral?

I can think of lots of examples where racism has led people to do incredibly violent things, which I think that you would clearly agree to be vicious.

I could say something similar of opposition to racism. I don't typically think of it as immoral to oppose racism, though in the hands of those with power such opposition can lead to mischief, such as hiring quotas. Laws regarding race, gender, and physical ability have done a significant amount of harm to the economy and thus to us, and these are all based on opposition to various sorts of bigotry and discrimination. Opposition to racism has additionally led to paranoia about the supposed root of all things bad in racism, and this paranoia has in turn blinded people to the true causes of harm, and this blindness has furthered the harm by misguiding policy.

One might additionally argue that opposition to racism can make racial tensions worse by forcing integration. Opposition to racism can lead to policies which in turn produce more racism, or more virulent manifestations of it. Before Yugoslavia fragmented, a professor of mine said that the only success - and a great success - was the harmonious integration of ethnicities achieved under the Yugoslavian communist government. In retrospect, this supposed success may have in fact sown the seeds of the later conflict. In retrospect, it might have been better to let people alone to integrate, or not, as they see fit.

Forced integration can lead to a particular kind of problem. If the governing power, guided by an anti-racist ideology, forces integration and then the governing power loses influence, what remains is mixed communities. A peaceful political separation may become untenable because of the mixing, which does not allow a clean cut, and the result may be a violent conflict over a disputed area, over which two or more groups have a claim because some of their own people live in that area.

So if a woman or a group of women demand equal treatment to men, then what they're likely talking about, in perfectly good English, is treatment which doesn't make a distinction based solely on her or their sex.

It is entirely legitimate to make distinctions based solely on sex, if sex is relevant to the distinction. We maintain separate public bathrooms for men and women. Most of us refuse to even consider a romantic partnership with a person of the wrong sex.

So the question is whether sex is relevant to the distinction. Who decides whether it is or is not? I might prefer to have a female secretary. If this is not as legitimate as preferring to marry a woman, why not?

The morality of racism and sexism

Constant,

I agree with you that any value other than non-aggression could, when combined with the notion that it is O.K. to use the State to enforce values other than non-aggression, lead to aggressive actions or policies. Anti-racism included.

You also don't have to convince me that government-imposed antidiscrimination policies are harmful. I think everything unjust is (therefore) harmful, and that they're harmful in other ways besides the fact that they're unjust. (Although we might disagree on the exact details as to why, I don't think we'd disagree in a way that matters for this discussion.)

However, I think that there is good reason to say that a belief in natural orders of superior and inferior social rank, based on race, are more conducive to aggression than a belief in social equality among people of different races. It could quite easily be argued that it takes a bigger inferential step to get from "Racism is a social evil" to "The government should make specific policies to force people not to promote that evil" than it takes to get from "White people are naturally superior to black people and should be in a socially dominant position to them; black people who are not submissive are vicious and dangerous" to "The government should make specific policies to enforce white dominance." I don't think that in either case the premise logically necessitates the conclusion (without auxiliary principles), but an independent belief in the propriety of the State as a means of social change has more of a leading role to play in the first case than it does in the second case.

For what it's worth, I also think that there are other reasons why racism is vicious and not merely foolish. The precise reasons why generally depend on what we're discussing (prejudiced attitudes or beliefs? exclusionary actions? antagonistic actions? etc. etc. etc.). Part of the issue here is that I think there are things that are naturally classed as examples of racism, and not easily divorced from the fact of the perpetrator's racism (for example, racist harassment, slurs and insults) which I regard as vicious, and which are very widely regarded as vicious. I don't know whether Arthur means to deny that acts like these are vicious (if not, why not?), or whether he means to say that they are vicious, but should not be classified as a part of racism. So I'm asking him to clarify what he means to say about cases like those.

I might prefer to have a female secretary. If this is not as legitimate as preferring to marry a woman, why not?

I don't know what you mean by "legitimate." Are you asking me whether or not this is within your rights, or are you asking me whether or not it's morally licit for you to do?

If the former, then certainly it's within your rights. You have a right to prefer all kinds of things. If the latter, well, reasonable criteria for a good romantic partner for you are presumably different from reasonable criteria for a good secretary for you, and I suspect that the former allows a lot more leeway for unargued idiosyncratic preferences than the latter does. While nobody has a right to force you to go along with somebody else's judgement about what criteria are the reasonable ones, it may very well be the case that they have good reason to suggest that your own understanding of the matter is mistaken, ignorant, foolish, or even vicious. (After all, you might have reason to change your own mind at some point; and if you can have good reasons for differing with your past opinion, then other people could have had those good reasons, too.)

As for whether such a preference really is mistaken, ignorant, foolish, or even vicious, I suppose it depends on what your reasons for having that preference are. Most of the historical reasons that men had during the 20th century for preferring women (as such) over men (as such) as secretaries have been fairly sleazy. But any serious discussion of a preference like that will require more details than just its existence.

For what it's worth, while sexist hiring practices are a serious concern for those who are concerned with gender equality, there are a lot more issues involved than just that, many of which go well beyond exclusiveness in terms of who you want to associate with at your job or on your own property.

Legitimate

I don't know what you mean by "legitimate."

I'm referring back to this exchange, which I take to be a point at issue covering both racism and sexism:

Racism is at best stupid not immoral.

So you say. But why do you say this?

Which I take to imply that your position is that racism - and by extension sexism - is immoral. So, is my preference for a female secretary (assuming I have one) sexist, and if it is, is that immoral? It is presumably not immoral to prefer that my spouse be of a certain sex. I don't know whether it is "sexist".

Most of the historical reasons that men had during the 20th century for preferring women (as such) over men (as such) as secretaries have been fairly sleazy.

Is it sexist for a man to lust after women?

Re: Legitimate

Constant:

So, is my preference for a female secretary (assuming I have one) sexist,

Probably, but as I said, I don't know. What's the reason for your preference? I can imagine sexist, anti-sexist, and sexism-neutral reasons for preferring hiring a woman (as such) rather than a man. Without knowing which one is hypothetically yours, I can't answer the question.

and if it is, is that immoral?

Yes, if it is, it is (therefore) immoral.

Constant:

Is it sexist for a man to lust after women?

Depends on what you mean, I guess. If you're asking whether it's sexist when the particular people you're sexually attracted to all turn out to be women, then no, I'm not claiming that. If you're asking whether it's sexist to lust, more or less indiscriminately, after "women," due to some kind of attitude towards femininity in general, then that may well be sexist. In any case it's immoderate and objectifying.

More to the point, while being male and heterosexual is not, as such, sexist, there are a lot of things commonly associated with heterosexual male "lust" for women, as it is actually felt and expressed in the society we live in, that are sexist. For example, preferring to surround yourself with women in subordinate positions to you so that you can ogle them or sexually harass them is fairly sexist, and, as I said, fairly sleazy.

If one's preference for associating with women rather than with men in a particular context is based on different reasons, then who knows? It may well be neither sexist nor sleazy.

So you say. But why do you

So you say. But why do you say this? I can think of lots of examples where racism has led people to do incredibly violent things, which I think that you would clearly agree to be vicious. I can also think of lots of examples where racism has led people to do things that, while not violent, were extremely cruel. Do you mean to claim that that's not immoral? Or to claim that the cruelty is immoral but not the racism which produced and justified it? Or something else again?

People always look for excuses to their violent behavior. There's racism, sure. Then there's religion, love, etc. Racism is racism, it should not be conflated with the acts of violence that it inspires in some people. I think deep down everyone's racist. Not in a bad, mean way, it's just that xenophobia is natural and mostly overcome by education and exposure.

Conflating racism and acts of violence has led many countries to treat "hate crimes" more harshly which is unjust, as well as restrict free speech.

But it's very rarely the case that any of these histories involved "forced integration" of any kind prior to the mid-1960s.

Which is why I believe this racism was transitional instead of endemic.

As for why a woman or a group of women would want that, well, honestly, who cares whether you "see why" or not?

The person who asked me the question whether I saw why ?

No I don't understand why

No I don't understand why women might want to be treated "equally" with men. Women and men are not "equal",

True, women and men are not equal in all respects. But it is also true that women and men are not unequal in all respects, either. That is, women and men share many things in common. The demand for equality is a demand that women should be treated equally with men insofar as specific gender differences aren't at play. If a woman and a man can perform task X with equal proficiency (and holding all else constant), it is just cruel to consistently prefer men over women for no other reason than you dislike women as a group, just as it is cruel to consistently prefer women over men because you find the task in question inherently degrading, and prefer to degrade women than degrade men.

Treating someone cruelly, in a way that they do not deserve to be treated, is immoral, even if it isn't actionable in the same way rights violations are. When I see someone acting or speaking cruelly to others, I think less of that person.

Innocent

But in reality what I expect is that virtually all seeming injustices turn out, in the final analysis, to have a perfectly innocent basis. A simple example is the gender gap in income. One might notice the gender gap and then jump to the conclusion that here we have proof positive of misogyny at work. Except that, once some external factors are held constant, the income gap virtually disappears.

Do you expect that, rather

Do you expect that, rather than evidence of misogyny, the interest in and popularity of Max Hardcore videos has a perfectly innocent basis? What explains this other than a strong desire to humiliate and degrade women?

Max Hardcore is your theory of gender roles? Or what?

I have never heard of Max Hardcore and don't intend to watch it. Presumably you're referring to hard core pornography. I will mention that I have seen a bit of hard core pornography though not very much of it, and what the stuff that I've seen seems to appeal to is the male fantasy of easy no-commitment sex with gorgeous women. It may be that the Max Hardcore series is just more of the same, or it may be that it's some kind of kinky S&M thing.

But if that's what it is then all you've proven is that some men, in some contexts, like to fantasize about sadism and/or masochism. It fails to convince me of very much more. For example, it fails to convince me that, generally speaking, the old-fashioned male and female stereotypes are an expression of a male desire to humiliate women.

You claimed that "in reality

You claimed that "in reality what I expect is that virtually all seeming injustices turn out, in the final analysis, to have a perfectly innocent basis." I gave you the counter-example of Max Hardcore. Do read the safe-for-work article: this is not merely typical hard core pornography appealing to the male fantasy of easy no-commitment sex with gorgeous women.

This example isn't meant to convince you that, generally speaking, the old-fashioned male and female stereotypes are an expression of a male desire to humiliate women. This example is meant to disprove your claim that "virtually all seeming injustices turn out, in the final analysis, to have a perfectly innocent basis." Some injustices are just that: injustices. They do not have a perfectly innocent basis.

Doesn't disprove it

This example is meant to disprove your claim that "virtually all seeming injustices turn out, in the final analysis, to have a perfectly innocent basis." Some injustices are just that: injustices. They do not have a perfectly innocent basis.

I put the word "virtually" in there for a reason. "Some are injustices" disproves "all are innocent" but does not disprove "virtually all are innocent".

I've glanced through the article now (I'm free of the content filter that was blocking my access). Still, what I wrote was "virtually all seeming injustices".

How many actual injustices

How many actual injustices would you need to see in order to change your opinion that virtually all seeming injustices are not actual injustices?

Answer varies

I would say at least a twentieth of the total quantity of seeming injustices. How many that is as an absolute number depends on the number of seeming injustices, and that depends on to whom they seem to be injustices. To some, the income gap seems an injustice. I hold that it is not an injustice, because controlling for extraneous factors brings incomes into line. Since it concerns the whole body of working women, of which there are tens of millions in the US, then this amounts to a high number of seeming injustices, and a twentieth of that is also high, probably orders of magnitude higher than the number of faces that Max Hardcore has peed on.

Meanwhile to some,hierarchical relationships are unjust. These, however, are so pervasive and manifest themselves on so many occasions, probably many occasions per day per person, that the total daily number is in the billions. A twentieth of this is probably also very high, maybe a hundred million per day or so.

Social engineering

Left-anarchists can not realistically change the hierarchy in male / female relationships without some heavy social engineering requiring heavy coercion.

I don't think that the empirical evidence points very strongly toward the conclusion that anti-sexism would require a continuous process of "heavy social engineering." (It would take heavy social engineering to get from where we are to an anti-sexist society, but as I see it, that's because it took heavy social engineering to get to where we are, not because there is some perennial in-born basis for structuring social relationships in terms of sex-class.)

But suppose you're right. Suppose there is some in-born, perennial basis that will keep asserting itself in favor of hierarchical relationships structured by sex.

Does it follow that any attempt to combat that through "heavy social engineering" will require "heavy coercion?" Only if all forms of social engineering are coercive. But they're not. For example, mass literacy is only possible through heavy and continuous "social engineering" aimed at teaching children how to do something quite difficult over a period of years. But does mass literacy require coercion? Not as far as I can see.

Does it follow that any attempt to combat that through "heavy social engineering" is necessarily foolish or wrong? Only if all forms of social engineering are foolish or wrong. But they're not. Lots of forms of deliberate "social engineering" are extremely beneficial (for example, teaching children how to read), and become harmful only when they are accompanied by coercion. If there are independent reasons for thinking that sexual equality is a valuable goal, then even if it is true that social engineering would be required to achieve it, that provides a reason for practicing the social engineering, not a reason for abandoning sexual equality as a goal. If there is some independent reason for rejecting sexual equality as a valuable goal, or for concluding that the costs of the social engineering processes outweigh the benefit to be gained from it, then certainly that's a reason either to reject anti-sexism in principle or to reject efforts to implement it on a structural level in contemporary life. But you first have to produce those independent reasons; just pointing to some discovery about what human beings may or may not be naturally inclined to do won't cut the ice you're trying to cut.

Sexism

Men and women are born with some slight differences. As a result, women tend to be a little better than men at some things, and vice versa. In human society differences in ability inform specialization, so that we should not be surprised that women tend to specialize in some things and men in other things. Specialization magnifies inborn differences, so that what began as a slight difference, ends in a marked difference.

Humans are mortal and time passes quickly, so there is an advantage to beginning specialization early. One disadvantage of beginning early is that an individual's strengths are not fully known at an early age. One is therefore forced to guess based on distinguishing features that are visible at a young age - such as the individual's sex. Thus the early training of all members of the same sex tends to be stereotypical and to create a uniform sexual culture. All boys learn the same things and all girls learn the same things, and what they learn is specialized along the sexual divide. And the early training trains boys to be (culturally) boyish and girls to be (culturally) girlish, so that even a girl born with more manly than womanly potential will, after early training, be more womanly than manly.

There is also a need to maximize one's ability to interact successfully with other members of the society. If most of the boys are a certain kind of (cultural) manly then if a girl wants to maximize her likelihood of providing a good family for her offspring, then it behooves her to learn skills that complement the most popular kind of (cultural) manliness (since this maximizes the pool of good candidates for her), and the same is true of the boys. This creates a dynamic which pushes both sexes in the direction of a single, stereotypical skill set which is the best complement of the skill set of the opposite sex. This is roughly the same phenomenon that has sustained the QWERTY keyboard: people learn it because it is ubiquitous, and makers manufacture it because people know it. Manufacturers of a Dvorak keyboard have a hard time finding customers and Dvorak typists have a hard time finding Dvorak keyboards. So what we see is not half Dvorak keyboards and half Qwerty keyboards, but virtually all keyboards Qwerty.

Furthermore, if you want to maximize your social success then you want to maximize the likelihood that you treat people appropriately from the very first meeting and that what you expect from them matches the reality. But given that men tend to specialize in being (cultural) men and women to specialize in being (cultural) women, then the strategy with the best expectation of success and personal reward is to treat a treat a woman like a (cultural) woman and to expect her (pre-judge her) to be a (cultural) woman from the very first meeting, and the same with men. In other words, the best strategy is prejudice: to expect an individual to conform to his or her sexual stereotype.

The best strategy is this:

behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex

That's from Webster. It's the second definition of the word "sexism".

Sexism may be ending in the modern world, because its economic basis is disappearing, because of our developed economy and our great wealth.

An explanation is not a

An explanation is not a justification. The fact that some practice became dominant because of a first-mover advantage, network effect, or some other accident of history is not evidence that the practice is desirable, efficient, optimal, or moral.

It's an argument against your argument (among other things)

Let's compare my story to your story. According to your story, sexism is a result of misogyny, cruelty, a desire to humiliate and degrade women. According to my story, sexism is the outcome of a series of reasonable, non-malicious responses to the environment and the inborn differences between men and women.

I don't find your story credible (as an account of most of what anti-sexists object to). In place of your story, I offer my story. Because I find my story more compelling than your story, then it succeeds, in my mind, in displacing your story and therefore succeeds in rebutting your argument, the argument you were making in response to Arthur. So, actually, yeah, my story does serve as an argument against your position - specifically, as a rebuttal of your argument for your position. Your argument follows the familiar pattern: a certain group is identified as the malicious, cruel oppressor that humiliates and degrades another group. It's a familiar story. Marx said it about capitalists and workers. Hitler said it about Jews and Germans. You said it about men and women. It's a familiar sort of analysis of society, but it's usually not a very good analysis. It's always easy enough to find specific supporting examples of it, but it fails as an analysis of the general situation.

Anyway, you're wrong about it not being positive evidence that the practice is desirable, efficient, optimal, and moral. It's not a deductive proof, I'll grant you, but it most certainly is evidence. For starters, your characterization of it is false. In contrast to the qwerty keyboard, which (presumably) could easily have been something different, the innate difference between the sexes is no mere accident of history, unless you mean to say that the human species itself is an accident of history. I have moreover portrayed each step as a reasonable response to the situation, a response which, as I thought I made clear, improved the situation of the individual responding. If you want to argue that despite these improvements it nevertheless made people on net worse off then I think it's up to you to explain where this occurs.

What I have done here is explained in some detail how it is that sexual stereotyping makes people's lives better. Now, it may be that there are negative externalities which more than cancel out the improvement, and if you were to outline such externalities then these would constitute evidence that sexual stereotyping made people worse off. But by the same token, the improvements I've pointed out constitute evidence that sexual stereotyping makes people better off.

You don't understand my argument

According to your story, sexism is a result of misogyny, cruelty, a desire to humiliate and degrade women. According to my story, sexism is the outcome of a series of reasonable, non-malicious responses to the environment and the inborn differences between men and women.

These two stories are not mutually exclusive. Sexism can, and likely is, a result of both misogyny, cruelty, and a desire to humiliate and degrade women, as well as the outcome of a series of reasonable, non-malicious responses to the environment and the inborn differences between men and women. My claim here has been that even if something is the outcome of neutral processes does not make the outcome desirable, efficient, optimal, and moral. To believe otherwise is to commit the naturalist fallacy, as I have described it.

The human inclinations to eat sugary foods and to commit rape are no doubt the outcomes of a series of reasonable, non-malicious responses to the environment. That doesn't make eating sugary foods or rape desirable, efficient, optimal, or moral.

I am not so much concerned in the origins story of how we got here, but in where we should go next. Origins stories may be useful for determining how easy or difficult it would be to change, but they tell us very little about whether change is desirable.

Your argument follows the familiar pattern: a certain group is identified as the malicious, cruel oppressor that humiliates and degrades another group. It's a familiar story. Marx said it about capitalists and workers.

Marx was a historical materialist, not an idealist as you so charactize him. In the Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Marx famously said, "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness."

Marx didn't think capitalists were just bad people, as if replacing them with better people would make everything hunky dory. Marx was blaming the economic and social system as a whole for producing the incentives that determine why capitalists act the way they do. Marx happened to be very, very wrong about the systematic virtues of free market institutions relative to socialist institutions, but the fact remains that he was concerned with material institutions, not motives and character traits.

On this latter point, he and I are in agreement. And so, for that matter, are most libertarians: we generally reject the idea that if only the right people were in power, things would be better. We favor instead materialist, institutional analysis. Just like Marx.

That's not the naturalist fallacy

And anyway, G. E. Moore invented the term "naturalist fallacy" to label philosophers who disagreed with him about morality. The problem is that Moore was in no way the last word on the topic. So, (a) actual examples of the so-called naturalist fallacy are not necessarily fallacious (what they are is at odds with Moore's philosophy of morality), and (b) this is not an actual example of it.

"Natural" has many meanings. Open up a dictionary. The entry on "natural" is long and multipart. When a libertarian uses the word "natural" in a political context, consider what is meant by terms such as "natural law". It means, among other things, that law which corresponds to a spontaneous order in the absence of a state and which is enforced, (in the absence of better methods), by individual unorganized violence (quoted from James Donald).

Thus, while I don't know what Arthur meant (and I see he has replied but I'll take a gamble and submit this without reading his reply), as I understand him what he writes is not only true but trivially true. If something is natural in the sense of natural law, i.e., if it occurs in the absence of a state, then it is trivially true that in order for it to stop occurring, a state is necessary.

Yes it is

There is another definition of the naturalist fallacy apart from G.E. Moore's definition: "the term is sometimes used loosely to describe arguments that claim to draw ethical conclusions from natural facts", the converse of the moralistic fallacy.

If something is natural in the sense of natural law, i.e., if it occurs in the absence of a state, then it is trivially true that in order for it to stop occurring, a state is necessary.

Disease occurs in the absence of a state. Is it trivially true that in order for disease to stop occuring, a state is necessary?

I don't know where you guys are getting the idea that the mere absence of coercion is a panacea, as if all human effort will be unneeded and all human problems will be solved as soon as ancapistan is achieved.

Logically it is trivially true

Disease occurs in the absence of a state. Is it trivially true that in order for disease to stop occuring, a state is necessary?

Logically, yes, it is trivially true. The reason it might seem false to you is that you are interpreting the two statements in different ways by adding different silent qualifiers to both statements. Which is fine - often when we make statements, there is much that is left unsaid which most people understand and which qualifies what we literally say.

For example, I happen to think that we will never entirely do away with disease (and thus a state is necessary - logically, if something is false under all conditions, then [arbitrary condition] is necessary for it to be true). Someone might say, "but eventually the universe will experience heat death. At that point disease will end." To which I might reply, "okay, so I'll explicitly add the hitherto silent qualifier, "for as long as our species survives." It's not a genuine objection to my point, but is a quibble about a silent qualifier.

It's okay to add silent qualifiers. The problem is that when you are interpreting somebody else, like Arthur, you need to be careful about adding your own silent qualifiers to his statements. If you do that then you run the risk of misconstruing what he is saying, and your response may amount to a straw man attack.

I have no idea what this means

For example, I happen to think that we will never entirely do away with disease (and thus a state is necessary - logically, if something is false under all conditions, then [arbitrary condition] is necessary for it to be true).

Huh? If something is false under all conditions, how does it in any way follow that an arbitrary condition is necessary for it to be true? It can't be true; nothing is needed for its impossibility.

But that's not even my claim. I think disease can be cured, or at the very least reduced, and both of these things can happen with or without a state. But no disease necessarily gets cured automatically just by virtue of eliminating the state and all other forms of coercion.

Simple logic

Huh? If something is false under all conditions, how does it in any way follow that an arbitrary condition is necessary for it to be true? It can't be true; nothing is needed for its impossibility.

It's basic logic. I'll grab a definition of it. You'll find any number of equivalent definitions:

A is necessary for B iff (“if and only if”) B can’t occur without A. Whenever you have B, you have A. Anything B is A.

Suppose that B cannot occur at all. Then, in particular, B cannot occur without A. (It can't occur with A either, but what's relevant to the definition is that it can't occur without A.) Therefore A is necessary for B (see the definition). If you like I can repeat this demonstration with other definitions.

I think disease can be cured, or at the very least reduced, and both of these things can happen with or without a state. But no disease necessarily gets cured automatically just by virtue of eliminating the state and all other forms of coercion.

Sure, but that's really quite different from what you wrote. Anyway, I want to backtrack a little and look at a previous comment of yours:

I don't know where you guys are getting the idea that the mere absence of coercion is a panacea, as if all human effort will be unneeded and all human problems will be solved as soon as ancapistan is achieved.

That is not at all what Arthur said. That doesn't even make sense as a response to what Arthur said. Arthur said that in the absence of coercion hierarchies will arise. That's not saying that all human problems will be solved. You seem to be confusing two very different conversations: the real one with Arthur and me, and an imaginary one with no real person.

Causal Necessity And Conditional Necessity

It's been a while since I did formal logic, and I don't think I even got as far as learning about the distinction between causal and conditional necessity and sufficiency, but after a little bit of Internet research (here and here), I think I now understand the heart of our disagreement: you are speaking of conditional necessity, not causal necessity, and are using a very idiosyncratic definition of Nature.

Arthur's original statement was:

If hierarchical relationships are natural, then preventing them from forming will require coercion.

We have expanded this into a more general statement with the following structure:

The presence of a State (or Coercion) is necessary for something Natural to stop occurring.

You defined Natural as the condition that occurs in the absence of a State. This definition turns out to be very problematic as we shall soon see. Through substitution, we can rewrite the general statement above as:

The presence of a State is necessary for (the condition that occurs in the absence of a State) to stop occurring.

This makes a little more sense, but it requires redefining away all of the causal relationships of interest. Let's go back to your definition of Natural. Something is Natural if it occurs in the absence of a State. You gave the example of natural Law. I gave the example of Disease. Both Disease and natural law occur in the absence of a state. But not exclusively so. Disease and natural Law also occur in the presence of a State.

How is the presence of a State, or the Coercion entailed by its presence, causally connected to the termination of something Natural? It is certainly true that Coercion is one possible way to terminate something Natural, meaning that Coercion is causally sufficient for the termination of something Natural. But is it the only way? No. There are other possible ways to terminate something Natural, for example, by discovering a cure to a Disease through non-Coercive, non-State means. Coercion is not causally necessary for the termination of something Natural.

Suppose that it is impossible to terminate some Natural things, such as Disease, as you claimed. What would follow from this? Would we say that Coercion, or the State, is causally necessary, causally sufficient, causally unnecessary, or causally insufficient for the termination of Disease? Well, since the termination of disease is impossible by your definition, nothing can be causally sufficient for the termination of Disease, nor can anything be causally necessary for the termination of Disease - the termination of Disease cannot be caused, period.

When we use phrases like "in order for N to happen, S must happen" in ordinary language, we are making a causal claim. "In order for something Natural to stop occurring, a State is necessary." This is the claim that Arthur made and you agreed with. Regardless of how this might be translated into first-order logic, capturing the causal relationship here seems to require either a higher-order logic (modal, maybe?) or additional quantifiers. I'm not sure if this is the same as what you were getting at with talk of "silent qualifiers".

Incidentally, my choice of disease as an analogy here is no coincidence.

That is not at all what Arthur said. That doesn't even make sense as a response to what Arthur said.

I was referring to the comment Arthur made in this post:

Left-anarchists can not realistically change the hierarchy in male / female relationships without some heavy social engineering requiring heavy coercion, nor is it clear at all why this outcome should be morally desirable.

To which I responded,

I don't know where you guys are getting the idea that the mere absence of coercion is a panacea, as if all human effort will be unneeded and all human problems will be solved as soon as ancapistan is achieved.

This was somewhat confusing as a response to your post, as I mistakenly assumed you were expressing the same view as Arthur, when in fact you were not. It's less of a strawman if you read it as a response to Arthur's linked post.

When Arthur denies the moral desirability of challenging unequal status hierarchies, the implication is that he finds the status quo of Nature ("the condition that occurs in the absence of a State") morally desirable, or at least morally unobjectionable. This in turn leads me to believe that the only sort of condition that Arthur worries about is coercion, and that the mere absence of coercion is a panacea for Arthur.

Causation and logic?

It is certainly true that Coercion is one possible way to terminate something Natural, meaning that Coercion is causally sufficient for the termination of something Natural.

But coercion will not terminate a disease (except, I suppose, by killing a patient). So I'm not sure it's right to say that it's "causally sufficient". And I'm having enough other little "wha?" reactions to various little points you're making that I kind of want to sidestep this whole bit. Which I think I can do.

But is it the only way? No. There are other possible ways to terminate something Natural, for example, by discovering a cure to a Disease through non-Coercive, non-State means. Coercion is not causally necessary for the termination of something Natural.

If it has been cured outside of the state and has therefore ended, then it's not occurring outside the state. Can it be called natural in the relevant sense? /'.[,mm

Maybe what you want to say is that something that was at one time natural, can cease to be natural (because it is cured). So the real issue here is that you're saying things can change. But I think all this requires is some clarification. Instead of just saying "natural", what if I say, "permanently natural". Or maybe instead of using the word "occur" I should use the word "persist". Think about natural law, about the idea of it. The idea is that this is a more or less permanent aspect of humanity, not subject to easy revision. The "occurs" isn't intended to be a momentary event but a persistent phenomenon.

I think if you want to dispute the point, the place at which to dispute it is not at the inference from the claim that it's natural, but at, and before, the claim that it's natural. And the way to dispute this is not as easy as charging "naturalist fallacy" (which I don't think applies here), but by delving into the details of the concrete thing in question, e.g. the relationship between the sexes, the reason for it, and what it would take to alter it more or less permanently. That takes us into subjects like evolutionary psychology.

But coercion will not

But coercion will not terminate a disease (except, I suppose, by killing a patient).

Again, I must keep reminding you to go back to the point of the disease analogy: Arthur's claim that innate tendencies towards gender hierarchies are so strong that they would require nothing less than coercion to eliminate. I then made an analogy to our innate tendency to prefer sugary foods, to demonstrate that though we may have some negative tendencies that are innate, we can overcome or at least partially address these tendencies through non-coercive forms of social engineering. Many diseases spread or are caused because of our innate tendencies toward certain behaviors: sexual promiscuity, intravenous drug use, nicotine use, sun bathing, etc.

If it has been cured outside of the state and has therefore ended, then it's not occurring outside the state. Can it be called natural in the relevant sense?

Again, I really don't understand why you are insisting on this idiosyncratic definition of natural when it is obviously not the definition Arthur and I are using. We are talking about innate tendencies, what we might call aspects of human nature.

Instead of just saying "natural", what if I say, "permanently natural".

But many things that we previously thought were permanent are no longer considered so once we figured out how to change them. Indeed, even Arthur seems to be admitting that the innate tendencies toward gender hierarchies are not permanent, since he grants that coercion would be necessary to change them (implying that they can, therefore, be changed with coercion).

And the way to dispute this is not as easy as charging "naturalist fallacy" (which I don't think applies here), but by delving into the details of the concrete thing in question, e.g. the relationship between the sexes, the reason for it, and what it would take to alter it more or less permanently. That takes us into subjects like evolutionary psychology.

Which is where we've been all along. You were the one who took us on this detour of formal logic and idiosyncratic definitions, not me. But even evolutionary psychology is at risk of committing the naturalist fallacy, if we assume that because human tendencies evolved in a certain way, that they are therefore justified, desirable, unchangeable, ethical, etc.

I don't think so

Again, I really don't understand why you are insisting on this idiosyncratic definition of natural when it is obviously not the definition Arthur and I are using. We are talking about innate tendencies, what we might call aspects of human nature.

No, I thought we already went through that. I was right, you were wrong. At this point the discussion is too unwieldy and we disagree too thoroughly about what was said and meant. I don't think it would be useful to continue. Maybe I can find a fresh point to enter or maybe I can just wait for the subject to reappear later on.

Nature and Moore

And anyway, G. E. Moore invented the term "naturalist fallacy" to label philosophers who disagreed with him about morality.

No, he didn't.

Moore coined the term "naturalistic fallacy" to describe a particular kind of move in ethical argument, which Moore believed to be fallacious. (Specifically, an attempt to establish a substantial ethical conclusion by equivocating between a statement of the form "Everything that is X, Y, and Z is good" and a definition of the form "'Good' means being X, Y, and Z.") His issue with the naturalistic fallacy is meta-ethical, not normative; it's not that he disapproves of the conclusions drawn from it, but rather that he disagrees with the way they are drawn. (He argues that this kind of maneuver tries to resolve substantive ethical disagreements on the cheap, by changing the subject from ethics to semantics, which fails to offer an ethically serious inquiry, i.e. one which might possibly result in reasons for action.) He did not accuse all philosophers who disagreed with his own ethical views of committing the naturalistic fallacy. In particular, he specifically argues that Henry Sidgwick did not commit the naturalistic fallacy in his ethical arguments, although Moore disagrees with, and spends half a chapter arguing against, Sidgwick's hedonistic view.

Thus, while I don't know what Arthur meant (and I see he has replied but I'll take a gamble and submit this without reading his reply), as I understand him what he writes is not only true but trivially true. If something is natural in the sense of natural law, i.e., if it occurs in the absence of a state, then it is trivially true that in order for it to stop occurring, a state is necessary.

If that's what Arthur means (I think it's still not especially clear from his response), then he is either walloping a strawman or asserting a strong claim without evidence. If the argument started out about whether gender roles are or are "socially constructed" or "natural," then the latter presumably refers to those things which aren't derived from social construction (which may be a coercive process, a non-coercive process, or an admixture of both), rather than to those things which emerge spontaneously in the absence of coercion. If his claim is the trivial claim you attribute to him (that things that emerge spontaneously in the absence of coercion will emerge spontaneously unless coercion is applied), then he's not successfully responding to Francois's expressed concern. If, on the other hand, his claim is the substantive claim that things that aren't socially constructed cannot be limited or eliminated without the use of coercion, then what he's saying is responsive, but it's also not as yet supported by argument. (And in fact is pretty obviously wrong, if it's intended as a universal claim.)