The Metaphysics of Gender is (Relatively) Substantial

Journal Article (Journal Article)

According to Sider, a question is metaphysically substantive just in case it has a single most natural answer. Recently, Barnes and Mikkola have argued that, given this notion of substantivity, many of the central questions in the metaphysics of gender are nonsubstantive. Specifically, it is plausible that gender pluralism—the view that there are multiple, equally natural gender kinds—is true, but this view seems incompatible with the substantivity of gender. The goal of this paper is to argue that the notion of substantivity can be understood in a way that accommodates gender pluralism. First, I claim that gender terms (at least as used in the ontology room) are referentially indeterminate, where referential indeterminacy holds in virtue of the way the world is. Second, I propose a degree-theoretic (or scalar) account of metaphysical substantivity; genders are substantial to the degree that they are determinate. I conclude that gender is relatively, although not absolutely, substantial.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Richardson, K

Published Date

  • January 1, 2022

Published In

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1933-1592

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0031-8205

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/phpr.12916

Citation Source

  • Scopus