Monday, June 5, 2017

The Methodology Behind a Pseudo-Intellectual "Eureka!"

At Witherspoon Institute's blog, one John Skalko explains human sexuality. We are told that Skalko is an adjunct professor at St. John’s Seminary and a PhD Candidate in Philosophy at the University of St. Thomas. His post is titled “Why there are only two sexes.

Witherspoon's blog — Public Discourse — is edited by Ryan T. Anderson. Apparently both Anderson and Skalkos are wed to the belief that a part-time instructor at a Catholic seminary in pursuit of a PhD in philosophy is qualified to inform us about sexuality. Why is that I wonder?

It is a rhetorical question. The answer is quite simple and it establishes the basis for the majority of of the intolerance and discrimination faced by LGBT people. In this case it is transgender folks who are targeted but that is less important than the “method.” There are variables depending upon what religion one subscribes to but the theme is the same. Here Mr. Skalkos accepts that the teachings of the Catholic Church form absolute truth. Regardless of evidence, anything that is contrary to those teachings must be wrong.

Therefore, the only erudition that is required is expertise in the teachings of the Church. By that preposterous standard both Skalko and Anderson are eminently qualified to authoritatively weigh in on subjects for which they have no training or experience. It sounds absurd because it is absurd. Yet, a few years ago the AP found that 77% of Americans believe in angels. This explains why critical thinkers are often on the defensive. They are disparaged as “elites” which is an non-substantive argument ad hominem.

With the understanding that Skalko is utterly lacking in expertise in the subject matter, I will briefly discuss his intellectually dishonest post:
Our sex—male or female—is determined by our basic capacity to engage in sexually reproductive acts.
Silly me. I thought that our sex was generally determined by chromosomes. Skalko, by the way, does consider the presence of intersex individuals. He essentially considers intersex to be a birth defect.
… We name these two types differently—as male and female—based upon the roles they play in reproduction. Such is why Aquinas held to a binary account of sex: “The distinction of the sexes is ordained in animals to the generation which occurs through coitus.” If human beings had no ordering to reproduction, or no sexual reproduction occurred, not only would one have no concept of gender, there would be no biological sex in human beings.
Let's hear it for that 13th century priest. He is presumed to be an expert on just about everything. Aquinas also believed that slavery was acceptable according to natural law. Aquinas was an important philosopher and in the 13th century he might have been the cultural equivalent of Steven Hawking. Yet citing him to make a point about biology is not only intellectually lazy but intellectually hazardous.

Already on unsteady ground, Skalko continues:
There, thus, can only be two biological sexes for human beings. In syllogistic form, what I am arguing is this:
  1. Biological sex is defined in relation to the roles played in sexual reproduction.
  2. Sexual reproduction involves only two, namely, male and female.
  3. Thus, biological sex is only two, namely, male or female.
Syllogistic reasoning works when the elements are true. Skalko's first element is flawed. Yet that is less important than the fact that Skalko indulges in a rather verbose polemic to argue something that is inarguable. We all generally concur that there are only two sexes and that the overwhelming majority of people are not sexually ambiguous. So what?

For Skalko (and Anderson) this is all validation of an inerrant Pope:
For the sake of argument, let us grant that it might be physically possible for a female to have a complete sex change operation that she had a fully functioning male genitalia, male hormones, and male chromosomes that were fully integrated into her body. In this case she would cease to be female, but become a male. Even if complete sex change operations were possible (which they will most likely never be), such operations would be no argument against the traditional binary distinction. In such a case, the woman would not become a third sex; she would cease to be female and become a male.
So what? Again, my emphasis is on the methodology which is a casualty of wilful ignorance. What Skalko doesn't want to understand is that, for some people, gender is at odds with sex. Transgender people take measures to affirm their gender. Doing so relieves what can be an intense discomfort caused by gender dysphoria. That 13th century monk that Skalko cited wouldn't know gender dysphoria from a loaf of bread. In the 13th century a doctor's favorite remedy for just about everything was "bleeding" the patient victim with a dirty implement.

They don't get it. They will never get it because they don't want to get it. The result is a moronic, pseudo-intellectual treatise. At his seminary Skalko will receive validation. In the real world, however, this crackpottery is subjected to due derision. Imagine what we could accomplish if we could wean people off those angels.

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