Philosophy’s No-Go Zone


“A staple of Philosophy 101 is René Descartes’s Meditations, in which the 17th century Frenchman devotes himself to the “general demolition” of his own opinions. In a couple of pages, he succeeds in demolishing his conviction that he has “hands or eyes.” This is the ethos of philosophy—question claims that we ordinarily take for granted and can’t imagine denying. Nothing is off the table. Weak-minded scientists may conform their conclusions to the prevailing orthodoxy, but at least clear-eyed philosophers will remain unbowed.

Alas, that isn’t true. When the (then junior) philosopher Rebecca Tuvel published a paper on “transracialism” in 2017, there was a huge firestorm. More recently, the UK philosopher Kathleen Stock resigned from Sussex University in 2021 after three years of harassment. Both times, fellow philosophers turned up waving pitchforks. Both times, the heresies concerned transgender issues (although Tuvel had compounded her felony by connecting them to race).”


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