Journal of Controversial Ideas

(ISSN: 2694-5991) Open Access Journal
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Controversial Ideas, Volume 3, Issue 2 (October 2023)
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1 Professor Emerita, Department of English, Loyola University Chicago, USA;
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Controversial Ideas 2023, 3(2), 2; doi: 10.35995/jci03020002
Received: 8 Jul 2023 / Revised: 8 Aug 2023 / Accepted: 2 Sep 2023 / Published: 31 Oct 2023
This essay asks, when does our effort to avoid offending students interfere with our ability to teach them? Rehearsing conflicts over language and terminology, over who can speak and what can be said, from my four-decade career as a literature professor, critical theorist, and gender scholar, I confront contemporary efforts to censor certain words, to prohibit certain kinds of inquiry, and to limit who can speak about certain subjects by placing recent incidents in relation to previous debates in academia and the public sphere. The university classroom and scholarly peer-reviewed journals have long served as spaces where established viewpoints can be questioned, knowledge can be challenged, and identities can be probed. Increasingly, however, we see classroom curricula under attack, books banned, language policed, and viewpoints prohibited, with teachers, students, and scholars self-censoring as a result. What happens when words are prohibited, and research subjects are deemed off limit, because some fear they may harm fragile young students or readers? Refusing to have that conversation, to allow scholars and teachers to debate controversial positions openly, itself does the harm. Through examples drawn from my teaching and scholarship, and drawing on newspaper editorials and academic publications, I model a means for working through this seeming impasse encapsulated by the title phrase, “the word that dare not speak its name.” Full article
1 Independent scholar, UK;
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Controversial Ideas 2023, 3(2), 4; doi: 10.35995/jci03020004
Received: 21 May 2022 / Revised: 24 Jul 2023 / Accepted: 26 Jul 2023 / Published: 31 Oct 2023
Classical music has in recent years been under hostile investigation within society as never before: it is alleged to be elitist, sexist and racist, and has been left in a position where it seems unable or unwilling to defend itself. This article, from a British perspective, examines the imprecise but weighted vocabulary which drives the debate, and considers the complex and apparently unresolvable demographic issues around musical representation by identity classification, of whatever kind. The issue of legacy repertoires and quotas is discussed, as well as the concepts of fairness and decolonization, and some of the reasons which drive the selection of musical repertoires. Full article
1 Seton Hall University, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice, South Orange, NJ 07079
* Corresponding author:
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Controversial Ideas 2023, 3(2), 7; doi: 10.35995/jci03020007
Received: 20 Aug 2021 / Revised: 13 Feb 2023 / Accepted: 6 Aug 2023 / Published: 31 Oct 2023
Curington, Lundquist, and Lin’s book, The Dating Divide: Race and Desire in the Era of Online Romance, demonstrates the limits of a moralizing sociological approach to courting behavior shorn of biosocial insight. In this essay, I summarize the book’s central findings and claims regarding the roots of systematic, racially exclusionary patterns in online dating. I question the adequacy of their social constructionist, power analytic explanation of such patterns; and I suggest additional interpretations from a multidimensional, biosocial perspective. I argue that reducing dating discrimination to “racism,” based on a totally constructed view of romantic desire, is both scientifically and politically shortsighted in today’s polarized ideological environment. Full article
Controversial Ideas 2023, 3(2), 5; doi: 10.35995/jci03020005
Received: 23 Mar 2023 / Revised: 11 Sep 2023 / Accepted: 24 Sep 2023 / Published: 31 Oct 2023
As one of our most deeply entrenched social taboos, zoophilia is widely considered to be wrong, and having sex with animals is illegal in many countries. In this article, I would like to go against this de facto consensus and argue that zoophilia is morally permissible. This would have major implications for how we legally and socially deal with zoophilia. Full article
1 Liberal Arts Department; School of the Art Institute of Chicago; 112 S Michigan Avenue; Chicago, IL 60603; United States of America;
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Controversial Ideas 2023, 3(2), 3; doi: 10.35995/jci03020003
Received: 25 Nov 2022 / Revised: 18 Sep 2023 / Accepted: 24 Sep 2023 / Published: 31 Oct 2023
On what we can call the “folk” conception of sexual orientation, sexual orientation is understood as sex-based attraction, that is, as (partly) attraction on the basis of the perceived sex of the person to whom one is attracted. However, in recent discussions, philosophers have either added gender to sex as the basis of sexual orientation, or have altogether replaced sex with gender. Moreover, this addition or replacement has gone – mostly – unargued for. This paper argues that a sex-based conception of sexual orientation remains plausible because (1) it is compatible with gender-based attraction, which I argue can be understood as a preference; (2) the reasons so far on offer for adding gender to sex (or for replacing sex with gender) are not convincing; (3) we have good evolutionary and non-evolutionary reasons for thinking that sex is the basis of sexual orientation; (4) we have good reasons to not add gender as a basis of sexual orientation; and (5) a sex-based conception of sexual orientation accommodates the various sexual orientations that have recently appeared, orientations in addition to the folk two (or three) of heterosexuality, homosexuality (and bisexuality), such as pansexuality, skoliosexuality, gynsexuality, and androsexuality. What emerges is a conception of sexual orientation based on the sex of the people to whom we are attracted, but that understands sexual-based attraction in broad enough terms to include surgically altered bodies. Full article
0 New York University, New York, USA;
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Controversial Ideas 2023, 3(2), 1; doi: 10.35995/jci03020001
Received: 1 Mar 2023 / Revised: 20 Jun 2023 / Accepted: 27 Jun 2023 / Published: 31 Oct 2023
I critically analyze the reasoning in Chanda Prescod-Weinstein’s article “Making Black women scientists under white empiricism: The racialization of epistemology in physics”. Full article
1 RMIT University, School of Global, Urban, and Social Studies, Melbourne, Australia
2 University of Melbourne, Department of Philosophy, Melbourne, Australia
* Corresponding author:
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Controversial Ideas 2023, 3(2), 6; doi: 10.35995/jci03020006
Received: 23 Nov 2022 / Revised: 15 Apr 2023 / Accepted: 12 Oct 2023 / Published: 31 Oct 2023
Conflict over who belongs in women-only spaces is now part of mainstream political debate. Some think women-only spaces should exclude on the basis of sex, and others think they should exclude on the basis of a person’s self-determined gender identity. Many who take the latter view appear to believe that the only reason for taking the former view could be antipathy towards men who identify as women. In this paper, we’ll revisit the second-wave feminist literature on separatism, in order to uncover the reasons for women-only spaces as feminists originally conceived them. Once these reasons are understood, those participating in debates over women-only spaces will be in a better position to adjudicate on whether shifting from sex to gender identity puts any significant interests at stake. Full article