Stay in Your (Semantic) Lane: Prudence and the Lexical Sovereignty of Social Groups


This paper argues that it is prudentially wise to defer to groups about how they are essentially constituted and defined. After a few words situating the paper in my greater research project (§1), I articulate the kind of deference I have in mind (§2). Then I offer two conditional arguments on why it is epistemically desirable to let other people tell you how they ought to be identified (§3). The first argument is that people are owed lexical sovereignty because denying it is absurd; the second is that modest skeptics ought to agree with it on the basis of some relatively anodyne and plausible epistemic considerations.

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