Is there any reason to believe that one sex is biologically superior to the other in a generalized sense? I've heard it said that men are inferior to women because they don't live as long and, in every age group are more likely to die than women. Add to that the fact that men's immune systems aren't as resilient as women's, they invest much less in reproduction, more boys than girls have ADHD or autism, and (it has been argued) men's sexual and aggressive urges are the cause of most violence and suffering in the world. As a man myself, I find these notions deeply troubling, not least because I am not a violent person, but also because though the above facts are scientific, I've read other arguments that evaluative notions of 'superiority' and 'inferiority' have no place in scientific discourse. So if it's not for scientists to say whether or not one sex is superior to the other, which type of expert should we appeal to, if at all? Philosophers such as yourselves, who presumably understand value better than most people? If so, do you think one sex can be considered superior to the other, in any all encompassing, generalized, meaningful way?

The physicist Wolfgang Pauli apparently didn't have much patience for what he saw as nonsense. More than once, it seems, he dismissed an idea by saying that it was "not even wrong."

I'll have to admit: the idea that one sex is superior to the other in any all-things-considered way strikes me as a plausible candidate for "not even wrong" status. Men and women are different. On average—though only on average—women may have some advantages compared to men, and vice-versa. I'm skeptical that there's some way to accumulate these sorts of on-average facts into some meaningful sense in which women are overall superior to men, or the other way around. And even if there were, there's way too much variation for this to tell us much of anything person-by-person.

In any case, the kind of superiority you're concerned about is, as you suggest, not a scientific notion. The kind of superiority you're worried about has to do with whether one sex is in general "better" or perhaps even "nobler" than the other. We can use scientific techniques to make judgments about average longevity, or physical strength or whatnot. But living longer or having stronger muscles or even having a higher I.Q. doesn't make someone a better person, and I think that's closer to what you're actually worried about.

You ask which sort of expert we should turn to if we want to settle such matters. You ask if it might be philosophers, since, you write, philosophers "presumably understand value better than most people." But while some philosophers no doubt have a better theoretical understanding of broad questions about value, I've never seen any evidence at all that philosophers are better at making concrete value judgments than other people. Compare: being a brilliant linguist doesn't make it more likely that you'll be a good judge of poetry.

You say you're not a violent person, and I believe you. But you also say that you're troubled by the thought that there might be some broad sense in which one sex (women, you suspect) is superior to the other. Why be troubled? If you're a good and decent person, you're good and decent person whether or not anyone else is, and whether or not one sex has a higher average score on some scale of virtue. It's clearly possible for men to be good, and for women to be good. We know it's possible because there are good men, and there are good women. It also seems more than likely that there are things we can do to make it more likely that a person, male or female, will turn out to be good person. Perhaps that's a better place to direct our energy: doing what we can to make the world the kind of place where people are more likely to turn out good.

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There's another whole issue here: the distinction between male and female isn't as sharp and clean as is often assumed. In this context, however, the main thing this point would add is to make any superiority thesis even more problematic.

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