PUBLICATION

Why We Shouldn't Compare Transracial to Transgender Identity (with Robin Dembroff

Unlike gender inequality, racial inequality primarily accumulates across generations. Transracial identification undermines collective reckoning with that injustice. (Boston Review, Nov. 18th 2020)

CURRENT RESEARCH

The abstracts of a few of my papers are  listed here. Please email  me for the full drafts: d.payton@rutgers.edu

Dissertation Chapter 1: [title redacted for blind review]

A paper about the constitutive social construction of properties.

Many people think there are socially constructed properties. For example, the property of being a woman is plausibly a socially constructed property. In this paper I defend the view that a property is socially constructed just in case the real definition (or “essence”) of that property makes reference to social factors. I argue that this view has advantages over the view that socially constructed properties are constituted by social factors, as well as the view that socially constructed properties are grounded in social factors.

Dissertation Chapter 2: [title redacted for blind review]

A paper about the relationship between social properties and the words we use to talk about them.

It is common to think that predicates like ‘cool’ express socially constructed properties. In other words, the meaning of ‘cool’ is a socially constructed property. Consider two questions in this area: first, what makes it true that ‘cool’ expresses the property it does? And second, what makes it true that a given individual has the property ‘cool’ expresses? This paper begins with the observation that, in the social metaphysics literature, these two questions are often answered in the same way. I then suggest that this observation may lend us some insight into the nature of sociality more generally, by highlighting one special feature of socially constructed properties.

Dissertation Chapter 3: [title redacted for blind review]

A paper about the difference between asking what 'woman' means, and asking about the nature of the property of being a woman.

The metaphysics of gender is a rich and rapidly expanding area of analytic philosophy. This essay takes up one of its core questions, What is it to be a woman?, and argues that there are actually two very closely related questions in the area of this one sentence. The first is a question about language: what does the term ‘woman’ mean? The second is a question about metaphysics: which property (if any) is the woman property? These two questions are not asking after the same thing, or so I will argue here. Furthermore, once we distinguish these two questions, another question arises regarding the relationship (if any) between our answers to each. My aim in this essay is not to provide definitive answers to these questions, but instead to make the case for asking them each independently, and considering them in relation to one another.

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