So, if you've been reading my Less Wrong posts over the last twenty-one months, you'll notice that I've been doing a lot of philosophy-of-language blogging lately! Those posts are:
- "Where to Draw the Boundaries?"
- "Schelling Concepts, and Simple Membership Tests"
- "Maybe Lying Doesn't Exist"
- "Algorithms of Deception!"
- "Firming Up Not-Lying Around Its Edge-Cases Is Less Broadly Useful Than One Might Initially Think"
- "Philosophy in the Darkest Timeline: Basics of the Evolution of Meaning"
- "Maybe Lying Can't Exist?!"
- "Unnatural Categories Are Optimized for Deception"
But, if you didn't know, the reason I've been doing so much philosophy-of-language blogging lately is because I was frustrated because I thought a lot of people were motivatedly getting the philosophy of language wrong for political convenience, specifically around transgender issues. (I think assertions like "trans women are women" and similar need to be argued for on the empirical merits; you can't just define them to be true.)
In particular, "Where to Draw the Boundaries?" was intended as a "stealth reply" (quoting/paraphrasing without attribution in order to reply to the philosophical substance while eliding the political context) to:
- Scott Alexander's "The Categories Were Made For Man, Not Man For The Categories"
- (note that Alexander added a clarifying edit to the bottom in December 2019)
- a November 2018 Twitter thread by Eliezer Yudkowsky (archived)
- (note that Yudkowsky would later clarify his position in a September 2020 Facebook post)
I also write a blog about gender issues under a differential-visibility-but-not-actually-Secret pen name. The posts from that blog that are most relevant to my philosophical writing on Less Wrong are:
- "The Categories Were Made for Man to Make Predictions" (a non-stealth reply to Alexander's "... Not Man for the Categories")
- "Reply to The Unit of Caring on Adult Human Females"
- "Self-Identity Is a Schelling Point"
- "More Schelling"
- "Reply to Ozymandias on Fully Consensual Gender"
To allay concerns about premature abstraction of political issues, I'm putting up this non-Frontpageable post in case anyone wants to comment on or ask questions about my object-level motivations without cluttering up our philosophy discussions.