A useful example was given to us in June when a group of 30 “gender-critical” (read: anti-trans) academics, led by the philosopher Kathleen Stock, published an open letter in The Times about how having to respect the pronouns of their trans students and colleagues was somehow compromising their freedom of thought; they were then met by a petition, signed by more than 5,000 university professionals, forcefully decrying their bigotry. It is relevant, when considering an issue like this, to consider both the arguments and rhetorical tone of anti-trans philosophers in relation to their willingness (as Stock’s open letter makes clear) to treat certain of the people they will most likely encounter every day at work almost as test subjects for their own abstract thought to ride roughshod over; in relation to the fact that one of the names attached to Stock’s letter was that of Stuart Waiton, a lecturer at Abertay University who also was a candidate for the far-right Brexit party in Scotland. Transphobic philosophers often want to insist on the “merely” philosophical nature of their inquiry — but for the minority groups their thought most affects, its political force cannot remotely be avoided.

From We the undersigned would like philosophy to remain quite useless by Tom Whyman