Philosophy of Transgenderism – Birth and Plurality

Aside


Introduction to the argument

“You weren’t born that way!”, a simple statement but used ad nauseum in opposition against several different issues.  And it’s not just transgender people which this argument is mainly used against. I mean we could bring up other issues, such as racism, immigration, classism, even feminism and women’s rights.

But let’s take the statement by itself. Like what is the statement saying? Well firstly it’s arguing a causal relation of a cause and its effect. X is inconsistent or immoral because you weren’t born that way. Or, in other words, X is inconsistent or immoral because that to which is effected wasn’t caused a certain way. Now the fallaciousness of this argument any philosophy student could point out is by dismissing or affirming a thing by stating its origins commits a genetic fallacy but that’s a different argument altogether. What we’re arguing is the assumption that certain effects are immutable and necessarily relational to its cause. Immutable meaning that it doesn’t change and necessary of its cause as it argues that effects themselves are somehow necessary of a singular cause and cannot be caused any other way.

Now I use cause and effect sort of interchangeably, so I hope I don’t confuse anybody. But what I mean by cause is the determining factor of a thing, and effect as the end factor of a thing; just so there’s no confusion.

The argument I’m going to present is sort of a counter argument or counter rebuttal in using said proposition. Now originally presented by John Stuart Mill, this is a metaphysical heuristic principle known as plurality of causes. Plurality of causes challenges the notion that while causes are relational to their effects, effects however are not necessarily relational to their causes. And for clarity I’ll provide a brief definition. Plurality of Causes: though the same cause must have the same effect, the same effect however need not have the same cause. Now let me re-emphasize that this principle is only stating that it is not necessarily the case, that causes are necessarily relational to their effects. So I’m going to be arguing here is that a particular effect, such as sex is not necessary of a singular cause, like natural reproduction.

So that said, let’s jump right in. Now I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard the statement or you may have heard the statement, “Because you weren’t born a certain way or because you weren’t conceived of a certain way, then what you’re doing is wrong or unnatural.” I’ve heard this argument come up several times in private and public discourse and it comes in various forms. Now to some it may seem convincing, and while I do think it’s meant to be persuasive, it’s far from being rational!

First we have to attack the preconceived notion of naturalism within causation. What makes a thing a thing shouldn’t not simply be determined by propagation. I think it goes without saying that many things can be affected by unnaturalistic means. But to use a naturalistic argument is simply fallacious by the very nature of the argument alone. That is to say that naturalistic arguments are descriptive, they cannot lend any sort of moral and normative justification for a thing they can only tell you what a thing is; this is why naturalistic arguments are fallacious.

We have to point out the fallacious assumption being made here when it’s asserted that the effect of something is inconsistent or not acceptable, because it wasn’t caused a certain way, this is a fallacious argument. Since effects can again have a multiplicity of causes then it’s perfectly rational to state a different kind of cause that affects a thing, either natural or unnatural. Sex, as we know it to be, is caused whether it be through propagation or insemination sex is caused into being. But the question is is sex necessary of these causes? I would argue no, because the metaphysical principle still applies here. Here I gave you two examples of how sex is normally caused, so it’s fallacious to make the assumption that what affects someone’s gender can only be caused a certain kind of way and should infact only be caused that way. For example we can look at other scientific methods of sex determination which are proven methods that have a direct effect on determining a fetus’s gender, such as fertility treatments and genetic engineering. In the genetic engineering portion there is a method called preimplantation genetic selection in which embryos are artificially fertilized by exposing them to predetermined sperm cells. So the sex of the fetus can be determined by other means other than naturalistic. But this is only one example amongst a plethora of genetic treatments and biological studies that effect sex determination.

But of course what kind of cause are we speaking of? It’s easy to assert other causes or scientific methods of which affect sex determination, but can we speak of Transgenderism within the same realm. In other-words what kind of cause is Transgenderism and does it follow the same mode or method of other gender determinants? Now to tackle this we’ll go back to Aristotle. Aristotle stated four kinds of causes, the one we will be discussing here is an ‘efficient cause’. The efficient cause, states the agent cause and the principle that to which brings something about.

Now remember an efficient cause is stating two things here,

1) The producer of an effect that follows a principle that guides its creation. As for one to be a producer of something one must follow a principle that brings about that effect, such as the art of making a table.

2) And the agent cause – the initiator of the change which first started it (the artisan).

Now in terms of Transgenderism it follows this concept to the letter. When we look at Transgenderism the efficient cause is already stated, we have the principle affect that guides its creation (clinical) and the agent cause, the initiator of the change which first started it (physician).  So the method or cause by which effects transgender determination is not only no different than other scientific sex determination methods but also fits in with a particular kind of cause that can account for its particular effect (efficient causality).

Conclusion

So when we look at the argument again, X is inconsistent or immoral because you weren’t born a certain way or because you weren’t conceived of a certain way really becomes absurd when thrown in the face of logic. Firstly we know that naturalism is not a precursor for any kind of normative justification for an argument, secondly if it can be demonstrated that a ‘plurality’ or multiplicity of causes exist that produces the same kind of effect then a singular cause is not necessary, and 3rdly if the cause which states the effect is logical (efficient cause) then the cause is both rational and justifiable. This in all would irrefutably demonstrate the contradiction in ‘asserting’ that there is a necessary effect.

– Jubilee

Argument from Contingency – Theologica37

Introduction

This is going to be a response to Theologica37 and his video entitled Arguments from Contingency: Thomistic/Leibnizian. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsEvxew8YOs

Theologica37, which from this point on I’ll be referring to as Theo, puts forth the argument from contingency as he uses both Leibniz and the Thomistic versions of the argument. The argument from contingency goes as such: “For every contingent entity that exists requires an explanation for its existence. Since an explanation for all contingent entities cannot be itself contingent, it thus requires an explanation that exists by necessity, this necessary explanation is God”.

The PSR Defined

The main presupposition within this argument is in the form of a reductio ad absurdum as it argues the absurdity of an infinite regress of causal explanations, which cannot go on ad infinitum, so therefore we must posit a necessary explanation. Now I will grant that Theo is correct in that we must posit a non-contingent explanation in order to explain why contingent entities exist. But what I do reject is the regression argument. Theo seems to view existence as some sort of succession and from what we know of existence this is simply not true.

The regression argument is sort of self leading, as it wants you to use or keep using sufficient explanations which we eventually have to do away with using, because a sufficient explanation would require an explanation that is dependent, and therefore contingent upon something else to explain it, and that in turn would require another explanation, and eventually we’ll have to come up with an infinite series of explanations that could go on ad infinitum. Now this may seem frustrating and it can be, philosophy can be a scary thing. But the questions within the argument from contingency are obviously fallacious as its rhetoric presupposes a causal oversimplification. It’s responses are limited to singular explanations of causal events rather than a multiplicity of causal events, when the person asks “well what causes this event and then what causes that event“? If you didn’t catch it you should already see the problem within the initial question, you could not possibly account for existing entities using an infinite series of causal explanations. What the theist is trying to do here is get you into a position where you’re forced to omit that since an infinite series of causal explanations is impossible to account for pre-existing entities we must therefore conclude that there was this singular explanation that is contingent upon a necessary being (God). 

My Rebuttal

So basically casual events occur and since they occur then they must be explained by an external cause that is contingent upon it. The argument presupposes the idea of predeterminism. Now predeterminism, not to be confused with determinism, would argue that contemporary states of events are ultimately determined by a chain of prior states of events leading back to its origins. Now I think this is where me and Theo part ways metaphysically. I think the disagreement lies mainly in how we view existing entities to be accounted for, which is either sequentially, as he would put it, entities being sufficient upon prior states of events, or in a monistic manner, as I would put it, entities being relational to its foundational properties. Now to put it simply my rebuttal to this argument is that… to account for existing entities is non-sequential as existing entities have unity within essence and are also limited within essence; & I’ll of course explain what this means.

But first let me show the logical implications I’m working from, when I speak of unity within existence I’m of course speaking of the monistic idea of reality. Monism or more specifically substance monism fundamentally is the idea of substance having universal qualities within every kind of existing thing, every kind of thing is relational in some sense. All entities have some form of relatable substance that is foundational, this is quintessential of existence. The laws of physics even complement substance monism. I’m sure we’ve all heard the old mantra energy may not be created nor destroyed it simply changes. You may have heard of other laws based off this, such as the conservation of energy and the conservation of mass, these laws of physics are monistic in the sense that they all agree that change is constant and is not quantifiable. So we can understand at least on both an axiological and scientific sense in how the monistic theory of metaphysics shows that substance/essence is axiomatic for all contingent entities to exist because substance/essence is the primary state of existence.

Now the idea that entities are both limited and have unity is where we get the concept of potency and act. Theo mentions the Thomistic version. But for clarity I’m going to use the original Aristotelian version. We can understand potency to be the potential or foundational substance that to which can remain itself while taking on new modifications. And the act, or actual properties, is the change by which the potency becomes actualized or overtly present within itself. So potency is the essence that persist within every kind of change that is potential for every kind of actual property and act is what limits potency within an actual property.

But as Aristotle points out, potency is necessary for any act, in that act can only occur if there is some foundational substance in which it is capable of becoming another kind of existing thing. You may have heard the saying “there are no contraries to substance”, this is Aristotle. Substance has no contraries to itself. There must be a foundational substance for any potency to be possible in becoming another existing thing.

So potency is this foundational substance, and it is itself axiomatic because nothing that exists or nothing that which could exist could be caused without a preexisting foundational substance to account for it. So potency can be said to have unity within every Act; it is the foundation that persists through every actual existing thing. And act, the thing that is modified or formed, is what becomes limited through potency. So this is where again we get the idea of entities having unity within essence, as there are no contraries to substance, every kind of existing thing is related to substance. And entities also being limited within essence as entities, or actual existing things, are limited by what makes it distinct, given its accidental properties.

Now I don’t think Theo himself even disagrees with this concept as he even admits in his video that a foundational substance is necessary, as he uses the metaphysical Thomistic version of potency and act: “Contingent beings are composed of potency of act and essence of existence, there must be a proportion between any act and the potency which receives it”. Now we see that Theo freely acknowledges that there must be some form of proportion as he puts it, that must exist between potency and any act which receives it. Now he defines potency as, or I should say rather, the principle by which the proportion/substance is obtained in the act. And the act or the accidental property is well pretty much the same in the original Aristotelian version – the change by which the potency becomes actualized or overtly present within itself.

In Closing

So the very fact that a contingent entity requires a necessary explanation ‘granted’, than that necessary explanation is potency the foundational substance for all existing things; for there can be no act or cause without first establishing some aspect of a necessary foundational substance which could have influenced it.

Given that there is this potency/foundational substance that persist through any & all actual existing properties, then there is no reason to assume that there is this sub-sequential limit to existing entities, and this is really the only point I’ve been making, because all existent entities can be accounted for by a universal foundational substance found in all existing or potential properties, therefore the argument from contingency fails, because to ultimately account for existing entities can be explained through its relation, not causation.

– ImymeJubilee