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LTP Lecture with Kit Fine 'The Logic and Metaphysics of Gender'

Friday 30 April 2021

The Leiden Centre for Theoretical Philosophy at Leiden University will host a talk by Prof. Kit Fine, titled ‘The Logic and Metaphysics of Gender’. Everyone is warmly invited to join. 

Registration: please register here. You will receive the link to the Zoom meeting a day before the lecture on the registered email address. 

If you have any questions please contact the organizer:  Martin Lipman, m.a.lipman@phil.leidenuniv.nl. The talk is organized as part of the NWO funded project A Fragmented World: A New Philosophical Approach to Perspectival Facts.

Kit Fine picture
Prof. Kit Fine


What is it to be a woman in a sense that is inclusive of trans women? This question raises a number of difficult conceptual issues, foremost among which is the problem of circularity. For it has often been taken to be at least partly definitive of a trans woman that they be an individual who is identified as a woman. But what then is this concept of woman that appears in the definiens? If it is the same as the concept of woman to be defined, we appear to have a vicious circularity; and if it is taken to be different from the concept to be defined, then it is hard to see how identification with a woman in one sense can make one a woman in some other sense. All writers who have discussed this problem have assumed that the circularity is somehow to be avoided. I shall argue that it is not and that the circularity is of a benign sort, characteristic of response dependent concepts in general. To this end, I shall outline a theory of response dependent concepts and show how it is able to provide an inclusive definition of woman, a definition which allows that identification as a woman in the proper circumstances will, as a matter of definition, make one a woman. I shall also argue that the resulting circularity in the definition is not merely harmless but positively beneficial in that it enables one to see one’s gender as something that is up to you in a way that other accounts are not able to accommodate and in that it enables one to see womanhood not simply as a classification to which women belong but as a social group to which an individual may take themselves be affiliated.


Kit Fine (B.A., Oxford; Ph.D., Warwick) is Silver Professor at New York University and specializes in Metaphysics, Logic, and Philosophy of Language. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a corresponding fellow of the British Academy. He has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies and is a former editor of the Journal of Symbolic Logic. In addition to his primary areas of research, he has written papers in ancient philosophy, linguistics, computer science, and economic theory. His published books include: Worlds, Times and Selves (1977; with A. N. Prior), Reasoning with Arbitrary Objects (1985), The Limits of Abstraction (2002), Modality and Tense: Philosophical Papers (2005) and Semantic Relationism (2007). Recently a collection of papers on Prof. Fine's work was published with replies: Metaphysics, Meaning, and Modality: Themes from Kit (2020; ed. by Dumitru). 

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