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What Is a Woman? Many Philosophers Know, But Aren’t Allowed to Say

An April 17 Quillette article about sex and gender by MIT scholar Alex Byrne prompted yet another round of debate and denunciation among his contemporaries.

· 17 min read
What Is a Woman? Many Philosophers Know, But Aren’t Allowed to Say
The Life and Age of Woman, an 1848 illustration by James Baillie.

Last week, Alex Byrne, a professor of philosophy at MIT, published a Quillette article describing violations of standard norms on academic publishing experienced by himself and Holly Lawford-Smith, a political philosopher at the University of Melbourne. Byrne and Lawford-Smith are two of very few philosophers—and Byrne is the only senior philosopher (that is, of independent name recognition in the discipline)—who’ve been willing to publicly defend some claims inconsistent with contemporary orthodoxy in the philosophy of sex and gender.

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