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Tags biology , gametes , lexicography , pedantry

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Old 16th September 2022, 08:48 AM   #81
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post

I have also read her on the subject of sequential hermaphrodites, and she is perfectly clear. They change sex. They are male when they produce sperm and they are female when they produce ova.
How can they possibly change sex if they're all male AND female right from hatching, if they merely have the potential - if they have the future functionality - to produce both types of gametes?

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I don't think any of what she says is at all controversial. She is simply clarifying long-standing usage, which didn't need clarification in the past because we weren't being assailed by the "sex is a spectrum" morons.
Hence the necessity to draw a line in the sand with the strict biological definitions of Griffiths, Parker, and Company.
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Old 16th September 2022, 09:00 AM   #82
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I've seen no reason to believe the people who study sequential hermaphrodites are confused about which ones are male or female, and I imagine they have somewhat specialized terminology around sex.

ETA: OP resolution was about mammals, IIRC. Happy to admit that things are somewhat trickier with sex-changing fish.
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Old 16th September 2022, 09:09 AM   #83
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
How can they possibly change sex if they're all male AND female right from hatching, if they merely have the potential - if they have the future functionality - to produce both types of gametes?

Hence the necessity to draw a line in the sand with the strict biological definitions of Griffiths, Parker, and Company.

No, they have either the structure to produce small gametes or the structure to produce large gametes. There is no confusion at all.

You really need to realise that Parker's definition is not what you think it is, and whatever Griffiths is playing at (I'm not persuaded even he, your guru, is on board with your definition) it has no relevance to the meanings of the words as they are used in biology.
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Old 16th September 2022, 09:12 AM   #84
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Pray tell, where did I ever say that some humans produce both? Don't think you're paying attention. Or are very honest in your responses.

The point is that by Hilton's "thesis", those humans with ovotestis are BOTH male AND female. All that's required by her "definition" is "developed anatomies" that may, or may not, in the fullness of time - gawd willing and the creek don't rise - produce sperm or ova.

That is, by their definitions, they are both male AND female, ergo, hermaphrodites. Which means that the Wikipedia article on the topic will have to be changed, and their authors, and those responsible for the citations, will have to be sent to the gulag, or at least the re-education camps:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermaphrodite

It doesn't matter how many cases there are - it only takes one to upset the applecart. And sow confusion ...

This is nonsense. There are no true hermaphrodites in human beings, and Emma Hilton does not propose that there are. If someone whose body has developed down the pathway to produce small gametes has some vestigial tissue of the opposite sex, that doesn't change the fact that their body is of the small-gamete type.

Nobody has yet been able to produce a case of an actual human being where it was impossible to determine whether they are male or female. One pathway is invariably dominant.
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Old 16th September 2022, 09:34 AM   #85
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I'd like to hear an answer to this as well, Steersman, one that doesn't require "reading between the lines."
Done.

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I'm happy to admit that the OP definition (or the past/present/future version) might well cause confusion ...
Hallelujah! Progress!

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
... but can you think of a specific situation in which that confusion would prove problematic? Like, maybe, the queue at a sperm bank?
Think I've already given answers to that - in exhaustive if not exhausting detail, ovotestes and sequential hermaphrodites in particular. Although those may be more technical and not likely to have direct or immediate effects on the majority of the public.

More problematic is the question of two contradictory definitions in play in the school system, one for the kiddies in their biology classes, and another for their social-justice social studies classes. Think Del Giudice's essay speaks rather directly and forcefully to the ubiquity of the problem:

Quote:
"On a deeper level, the ‘patchwork’ definition of sex used in the social sciences is purely descriptive and lacks a functional rationale. This contrasts sharply with how the sexes are defined in biology. From a biological standpoint, what distinguishes the males and females of a species is the size of their gametes: males produce [present tense indefinite] small gametes (e.g., sperm), females produce [present tense indefinite] large gametes (e.g., eggs; Kodric-Brown & Brown, 1987)"
https://www.researchgate.net/publica...Sex_and_Gender

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I'm > 99% confident you will never find anyone at OED claiming that they are promulgating stipulative definitions.
So what? If dictionaries' claim to fame and fortune is descriptivism, is to publish records of common usages, and if some scientists have published such definitions then, ipso facto, they're publishing stipulative definitions. Particularly if the former happens after the latter.

But you might take a gander at Hilton's Substack, this passage in particular:

Quote:
I’ve been working on a legal document and was discussing with a colleague about my efforts to find a citation for the statement: “there are two sexes, male and female”. He laughed at the idea that this would require a citation, told me to check a textbook, then realised that this statement is so simple that it would not even be included in a textbook.
Link and bonus link to my comment thereon ...
https://emmahilton.substack.com/p/sex-denialism
https://emmahilton.substack.com/p/se...omment/8511640

Bunch of deleted responses to my comments from "Middle Aged Lady" - who claimed to be a molecular biologist - probably because she was embarrassed by her idiotic claim that "Every cell has a sex."

In any case, Hilton had something of a point about the lack of even a stipulative definition to the effect that there were only two sexes - in anisogamic species, of course - in biological textbooks. But likewise with a lack of such a definition for the sexes themselves - which the HHWH at least tries to rectify, even if it is remarkably and profoundly flawed from any number of perspectives.

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
So it may well be that your interpretation of "female" is what's causing the conflict.
Not quite sure how much "interpretation" is involved in noting that the "definitions" of the HHWH conflict rather starkly and profoundly with the presumably much more popular and current definitions from Google/OD:





The latter set of which I might emphasize say absolutely diddly-squat about any "past, present, or future functionality".

Kind of a smoking gun on the "confusion" case if you ask me ...
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Old 16th September 2022, 09:38 AM   #86
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I've seen no reason to believe the people who study sequential hermaphrodites are confused about which ones are male or female, and I imagine they have somewhat specialized terminology around sex.
So what? The issue is the dissemination of that "information". Which sows confusion ...

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
ETA: OP resolution was about mammals, IIRC. Happy to admit that things are somewhat trickier with sex-changing fish.
Bravo! Progress!

But, pray tell, where does that tweet of Hilton's say ANYTHING about their definition being exclusive to mammals? You maybe see that qualification in between a couple of the lines? Which ones? I'm all ears ...

You're putting your thumbs - to the elbows - on the scales.
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Old 16th September 2022, 10:16 AM   #87
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
No, they have either the structure to produce small gametes or the structure to produce large gametes. There is no confusion at all.
Christ Almighty. Don't think you're paying attention. Try looking closely at what Hilton is actually saying:

Quote:
"Individuals that have developed anatomies for producing either small or large gametes, regardless of their past, present or future functionality, are referred to as 'males' and 'females', respectively."
Link: https://twitter.com/FondOfBeetles/st...63359589527554

She and her partners in crime are saying that structures that MIGHT - in the fullness of time - produce small or large gametes is sufficient to qualify those possessing such structures as males or females. Likewise, structures that could maybe - possibly, even if at a stretch - HAVE PRODUCED small or large gametes qualifies those individuals who possess such structures as males or females.

The whole point of her "definition" is that the structures don't actually have to be functional. Apart from the thorny problem of defining those structures - and for all sexually-reproducing (anisogamic) species - the logical conclusion is that sequential hermaphrodites are both males and females right from birth - a contradiction in terms - because they have "structures" that might develop into producing sperm and ova. Solid pretext for confusion.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
You really need to realise that Parker's definition is not what you think it is, and whatever Griffiths is playing at (I'm not persuaded even he, your guru, is on board with your definition) it has no relevance to the meanings of the words as they are used in biology.
Think I've already pointed out, in exhaustive if not exhausting detail, that when some authoritative person or body says "we define ...." then that is, ipso facto, a stipulative definition. They are specifying necessary and sufficient conditions for category membership.

Following Damion's suggestion, I had sent Griffiths a letter outlining the issue as I saw it, and to which he had kindly responded the other day. He had also sent me a preprint article on the same topic that he's trying to get published, and had asked for some feedback on it.

But while the new article - which is something of a reprise of his Aeon article - doesn't actually say "sexless", it still more or less reiterates one of the central points of the Aeon one:

Quote:
"Nothing in the biological definition of sex requires that every organism be a member of one sex or the other. That might seem surprising, but it follows naturally from DEFINING each sex by the ability to do one thing: make eggs or make sperm. Some organisms can do both, while some can't do either [ergo, sexless]." [my editorializing ...]
https://aeon.co/essays/the-existence...uman-diversity

Not quite sure how you could possibly stick-handle around the consequential conclusion that some members of many sexually-reproducing (anisogamic) species are in fact sexless, are neither male nor female. Largely why I had suggested in my response to him that he should be more forthright in calling a spade a shovel.

[Chores to do; back in a bit.]
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Old 16th September 2022, 11:08 AM   #88
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Not a clownfish (redux)

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
But, pray tell, where does that tweet of Hilton's say ANYTHING about their definition being exclusive to mammals?
Pray tell, where does the OP say that I'm willing to argue about the application of that definition to fish?
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Old 16th September 2022, 11:15 AM   #89
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Ovotesticular fortitude

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Think I've already given answers to that - in exhaustive if not exhausting detail, ovotestes and sequential hermaphrodites in particular. Although those may be more technical and not likely to have direct or immediate effects on the majority of the public.
I don't think this one is nearly quite as confusing as you seem to think it is. Anton KrzyzanowskiWP, for example, should be sorted into the bathrooms, locker rooms, and sports leagues associated with males, for obvious (structural) reasons.
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Old 16th September 2022, 12:56 PM   #90
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Pray tell, where does the OP say that I'm willing to argue about the application of that definition to fish?
Maybe in the fine print about not wanting to be seen engaging in special pleading?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_pleading

You might note that Hilton's tweet starts off with, "Sir, Further to the Lib Dem policy of self-identifying one's gender, sexual reproduction in almost all higher species, including humans, proceeds via fusion of one small and one large gamete (anisogamy)."

Unless that "higher species" is an oblique reference to Tardis, then her use of the term is clearly covering a rather large group species - pretty much all of the anisogamic ones, I expect.

Though, en passant, she is clearly muddying the waters herself by not realizing that many people, with more than a little justification, use "gender" as more or less synonymous with personalities. She seems to think it synonymous with "sex" - talk about "confusion" ....

But you asked specifically about that confusion. Much of which clearly comes from the conflict between the HHWH definitions and the strict biological ones - a phrase that's also front and center in your OP, and from your rather idiosyncratic (mis)interpretation of the former.

Seems rather disingenuous, if not intellectually dishonest to fall back on the OP specifics when it is shown that that misinterpretation is part and parcel of that confusion.

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I don't think this one is nearly quite as confusing as you seem to think it is. Anton KrzyzanowskiWP, for example, should be sorted into the bathrooms, locker rooms, and sports leagues associated with males, for obvious reasons.
Not really the point. Which you look to be trying to evade.

The point is that the HHWH - even when applied only to mammals - conflicts rather badly and profoundly with the "strict biological definitions", i.e., those of Griffiths, Parker (FRS), Lehtonen, Wikipedia, and Google/OD. Which causes no end of problems and confusion ...
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Old 16th September 2022, 01:03 PM   #91
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
The point is that the HHWH - even when applied only to mammals - conflicts rather badly and profoundly with the "strict biological definitions", i.e., those of Griffiths, Parker (FRS), Lehtonen, Wikipedia, and Google/OD.
I'm going to discount that last one, since you haven't yet grappled with the fact that Google & OED usage examples clearly allow for prepubescent and otherwise infertile individuals (both males and female) to have the property of sex, not to mention the fact that lexicographers are generally not prescribing stipulative definitions.

I'm going to discount Parker as well, since he feels free to call an infertile individual mammal "male" in his own published work, as we've seen elsewhere.

As to the rest, you have yet to show where the confusion really lives. Is there a specific case in which we want to sort individual organisms but the structural approach yields one answer and the functional approach yields another answer?
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Old 16th September 2022, 01:45 PM   #92
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I'm going to discount that last one, since you haven't yet grappled with the fact that Google & OED usage examples clearly allow for prepubescent and otherwise infertile individuals (both males and female) to have the property of sex, not to mention the fact that lexicographers are generally not prescribing stipulative definitions.
"Don't confuse me with facts, my mind is made up"?

I've pointed out several times now that it's immaterial whether stipulative definitions conflict with lexical ones - they might in some cases, and might not in other ones:

Quote:
A stipulative definition is a type of definition in which a new or currently existing term is given a new specific meaning for the purposes of argument or discussion in a given context. When the term already exists, this definition may, but does not necessarily, contradict the dictionary (lexical) definition of the term. Because of this, a stipulative definition cannot be "correct" or "incorrect"; it can only differ from other definitions, but it can be useful for its intended purpose.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stipulative_definition

No doubt the HHWH definitions stipulated by Hilton and Company conflict with those sources as well. So theirs and the strict biological definitions (SBD) are, at first blush, on the same starting line. But that should then raise questions as to which are those "intended purposes", and which ones are more likely to achieve them.

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I'm going to discount Parker as well, since he feels free to call an infertile individual mammal "male" in his own published work, as we've seen elsewhere.
Let me know when he actually says that "infertile individuals" actually have a sex. Maybe he was using it in an "extended" sense - as Griffiths has done. Or maybe in a nominal sense. But planning on writing him as well so stay tuned for further developments ...

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
As to the rest, you have yet to show where the confusion really lives. Is there a specific case in which we want to sort individual organisms but the structural approach yields one answer and the functional approach yields another answer?
Think I've explained or described several cases in some detail - notably in school systems which might wind up using both the strict biological definitions of Griffiths et al, and the "patchwork" and quite unscientific ones of Hilton and Company.

But maybe more to your "sorting" point, the strict biological definitions lead to the conclusion that some third of us are sexless, while the HHWH one more or less insists that every last one of us - not to mention all of the other anisogamic species - are all either one sex or the other.

Maybe moot on the practical ramifications of using the strict biological definitions, but, at the very least, I expect it would foreclose on people like Forstater insisting that "sex is immutable". May underline the rather "draconian", if not profoundly odious consequences of "gender-affirmation surgery" - i.e., turning defenseless and autistic children into sexless eunuchs.
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Old 16th September 2022, 02:29 PM   #93
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Think I've explained or described several cases in some detail - notably in school systems which might wind up using both the strict biological definitions of Griffiths et al, and the "patchwork" and quite unscientific ones of Hilton and Company.
I'm about to go pick up my third born from an elementary school wherein almost all the students are "sexless" in your preferred nomenclature, that is, very few of them are producing viable gametes. Somehow that school has managed to sort their students into one set of bathrooms for boys and another for girls. Do you suppose they are using structural or functional definitions to do so?
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Old 16th September 2022, 02:49 PM   #94
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I'm about to go pick up my third born from an elementary school wherein almost all the students are "sexless" in your preferred nomenclature, that is, very few of them are producing viable gametes. Somehow that school has managed to sort their students into one set of bathrooms for boys and another for girls. Do you suppose they are using structural or functional definitions to do so?


Maybe they're using NEITHER? Given your background in probability - so to speak - one would think you'd have some grasp of the concept of proxy variables:

Quote:
Proxy (statistics), a measured variable used to infer the value of a variable of interest
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proxy

Though the logic may be a bit murky. But kids at birth are (mis)labelled as male or female on the basis of their genitalia. So the (mis)label serves as a pretty solid proxy to "infer the value of a variable of interest", i.e., genitalia.

That's is how the actually sorting for bathrooms is done; it's largely immaterial whether the kids yet have a sex or not. But the mislabeling tends to cause no end of problems - and confusion - when the reproductive abilities associated with the labels become more of an issue.

Try thinking that there's a difference between words as a labels, as handles, and what they actually denote. See:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Map%E2...itory_relation

Often the denotation, the meaning associated with a word, is irrelevant to how it's being used.
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Old 16th September 2022, 02:54 PM   #95
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That's a lot of words to say they're using the structural definition and it's not causing any confusion at all.
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Old 16th September 2022, 03:01 PM   #96
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
That's a lot of words to say they're using the structural definition and it's not causing any confusion at all.
So? Where have I said that confusion in one area necessarily means confusion in all other ones?
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Old 16th September 2022, 04:32 PM   #97
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I hope our elementary schools stick with the structural definition (if you can stand up to pee, we've got urinals in the bathrooms designated for "boys") since any other definition will inevitably engender confusion, not least in the minds of the kids themselves.
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Old 16th September 2022, 08:55 PM   #98
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I hope our elementary schools stick with the structural definition (if you can stand up to pee, we've got urinals in the bathrooms designated for "boys") since any other definition will inevitably engender confusion, not least in the minds of the kids themselves.
Even though the "structural definition" is flatly contradicted by the strict biological definitions based on function? Which, you've apparently conceded, causes "confusion" when applied to many other anisogamic species?

Don't think the schools are doing the kids any favours by enforcing that. They might just as well teach them to praise Jesus. ...

Though I wonder at the precise nature of exactly what it is they are imparting with that structural definition. That boys have penises and girls have vaginas? If that's the extent of it then I don't see much if any difference between how the two sets of definitions would play out on the ground. In which case there's as much justification, if not more, for going with the more accurate and broadly applicable functional definitions.

Particularly if one has to qualify "male" and "female" with "non-functional" when applying the structural definitions to prepubescent children ...

But such endless qualifications reminds me of the song, "The Old Lady that Swallowed the Fly", and of having to tell ever bigger lies to cover for previous smaller ones. All to avoid saying "sexless".
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Old 17th September 2022, 07:36 AM   #99
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Even though the "structural definition" is flatly contradicted by the strict biological definitions based on function?
I asked earlier whether you can come up with a specific example of an individual organism (preferably mammalian) where the structural definition gives one answer and your functional interpretation gives another.

I don't think you're on firm footing if elementary school children are the example you want to use, since if we go by your interpretation of "strict biological definitions based on function" there is no criterion by which we can sort those who can pee standing up (whom I call "boys") from those who invariably pee sitting down (whom I call "girls"). The built environment already takes these differences into account, but your "strict biological definition" doesn't see them, because they are merely structural.

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Which, you've apparently conceded, causes "confusion" when applied to many other anisogamic species?
It might be worth noting that the OP definition was provided in response to sex and gender issues arising amongst Homo sapiens rather than, say, sequential hermaphrodites. It might also be worth noting that the specialists who study sequential hermaphrodites seem not to suffer from confusion when observing how gametic structures change over time.

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Though I wonder at the precise nature of exactly what it is they are imparting with that structural definition. That boys have penises and girls have vaginas? If that's the extent of it then I don't see much if any difference between how the two sets of definitions would play out on the ground. In which case there's as much justification, if not more, for going with the more accurate and broadly applicable functional definitions.
Once again, your functional definitions have no power to help sort prepubescent children. To you, they are all "sexless," unless you want to infer future function from current structure.

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Particularly if one has to qualify "male" and "female" with "non-functional" when applying the structural definitions to prepubescent children
People using the OP definition require no such qualification, since they are free to assign sex based on structural features.
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Old 17th September 2022, 07:47 AM   #100
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Even though the "structural definition" is flatly contradicted by the strict biological definitions based on function?
The strict biological definitions based on function are only used when the function itself is the critical distinction. Everywhere else, including in "strict biological" contexts, the structural definition is used. And no confusion arises.
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Old 18th September 2022, 12:36 AM   #101
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I asked earlier whether you can come up with a specific example of an individual organism (preferably mammalian) where the structural definition gives one answer and your functional interpretation gives another.

I don't think you're on firm footing if elementary school children are the example you want to use, since if we go by your interpretation of "strict biological definitions based on function" there is no criterion by which we can sort those who can pee standing up (whom I call "boys") from those who invariably pee sitting down (whom I call "girls"). The built environment already takes these differences into account, but your "strict biological definition" doesn't see them, because they are merely structural.
Not just my "functional interpretation" though, is it? It's the definition of Google/OD, Wikipedia, Parker & Lehtonen, and of Griffiths. Just ran across a tweet from a UK philosopher which had quoted some definitions from the Oxford Dictionary of Biology which says pretty much the same thing:



Something that I had included in my Medium essay on The Imperative of Categories (so to speak):

https://medium.com/@steersmann/the-i...s-874154213e42

But would you agree that both the structural definitions of Hilton and Company, and those of Lehtonen and Company qualify as stipulative definitions? That we might then have a reasonable debate on which one is the best and most useful?

Somewhat en passant, Griffiths' preprint article raises the quite reasonable question, "Why should evolutionary biology get to define biological sexes?" Some fascinating digressions into alternative viewpoints, but the bottom line is more or less that pretty much all of the sexual dimorphism in humans - physical, biological, psychological, emotional, social, etc. - and in other anisogamic species starts from the two fundamentally different gamete types - and the processes which produce them. Something which even Hilton's definitions recognize in its "present functionality". So then the issue is what relevance or value there is in including past or future functionality.

But if they're both stipulative definitions then it's reasonable to ask, as per your sorting those who "pee standing up" and those who "pee sitting down", how the two definitions affect the definitions for "boys" and "girls". The standard for the former is:

Quote:
boy (noun): a male child or young man.
But in the case of Hilton's "thesis", you really have modify that definition to qualify "male" - at least in the case of "child" - with "non-functional". You might note theprestige added "functional" in one case of "male", and that, as I had noted, Wikipedia's article on sequential hermaphrodites does the same:

Quote:
Both protogynous and protandrous hermaphroditism allow the organism to switch between functional male and functional female.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sequen...ermaphroditism

From which one might reasonably conclude that, by Hilton's lexicon, male and female are at least binaries themselves - or trinaries if you wish to split out "non-functional" into two subcategories. Hilton and Company are clearly making the sexes into polythetic categories, and you can't just do some hand waving and claim each subcategory is the same as the others.

But that's really pretty much the same as the functional definitions, except that now "male" has to be qualified with "pre-" or "probable".

Whether the definitions are changed to explicitly recognize those differences or not doesn't change the fact that the qualifications are implicit in the definitions chosen, and in their consequences. Don't think you can reasonably claim that there should be one type of "sauce" for the goose, and another for the gander.


Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
It might be worth noting that the OP definition was provided in response to sex and gender issues arising amongst Homo sapiens rather than, say, sequential hermaphrodites. It might also be worth noting that the specialists who study sequential hermaphrodites seem not to suffer from confusion when observing how gametic structures change over time.
Sure. And the issue, as you suggested in the OP, is whether the strict biological definitions should apply, or the structure-absent-function ones of Hilton and Company.

But the issue really isn't whether "specialists suffer from confusion" - though clearly some of them do, at least those generalists who "think" every cell has a sex or that sex is a spectrum. Though not sure that Hilton and Company have much of a leg to stand on in throwing stones at the latter since that definition of theirs boils down into a pair of binaries or trinaries. The issue is whether the general public is "dazed and confused" by the competing "theses" - should be manifestly evident that they are: every man and their dogs riding madly off in all directions.

But seems to me you're being a bit disingenuous, at best, in thinking the issue is just a matter of who pees where. Don't see that you've addressed - surprise, surprise - the consequences of, in effect, having one set of definitions for high school classes on biology, and another quite contradictory set for those on social studies.

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Once again, your functional definitions have no power to help sort prepubescent children. To you, they are all "sexless," unless you want to infer future function from current structure.
Once again, not just my functional definitions. Somewhat disingenuous, at best, to describe it as such.

But of course we can so infer: methinks there are very few "pre-males" who go on to produce ova. Largely why I suggested that "pre-" or "probable" is implicit in the definitions for "boy" and "girl". As "non-functional" is in both cases.

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
People using the OP definition require no such qualification, since they are free to assign sex based on structural features.
Methinks that's just trying to sweep the elephant in the living room under the rug. Probably something like a 67% chance that any given penis-haver is in fact a (functional) male, and in 2 times out of 3 making that inference probably won't be wrong or cause many problems. Likewise with vagina-havers.

But the issue is that that structural definition conflicts rather badly with the functional one. It's not just of academic interest that "from contradictions, anything follows":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_explosion

We might just as well say that black is white as to have both definitions in play. Little more than following suit with Ignatius Loyola's Rules for Thinking with the Church:

Quote:
That we may be altogether of the same mind and in conformity[...], if [the Church] shall have defined anything to be black which to our eyes appears to be white, we ought in like manner to pronounce it to be black.
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php...ldid=797030740

"Priestesses" Heying and Hilton, and "Priest" Wright in the "Sex is Immutable" Church ...
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Old 18th September 2022, 07:31 AM   #102
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Is this a good place for a statistical question?

"in 4% of newborns the doctors can't tell male or female"? Sounds out of the bounds of everything I ever heard.
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Old 18th September 2022, 07:59 AM   #103
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Not just my "functional interpretation" though, is it? It's the definition of Google/OD, Wikipedia, Parker & Lehtonen, and of Griffiths.
Neither the OED nor Wikipedia have any problem referring to postmenopausal females, prepubescent males, male/female infants, etc. and thus you don't get to claim these sources for your quixotic crusade to narrow the common definitions of male and female to exclude all those who haven't yet or no longer produce gametes, and by now it seems increasingly dishonest for you to continue doing so.

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
But would you agree that both the structural definitions of Hilton and Company, and those of Lehtonen and Company qualify as stipulative definitions? That we might then have a reasonable debate on which one is the best and most useful?
Stipulative definitionWP is a term of art for a definition which has been clearly laid out for the purposes of a specific conversation, publication, discussion, argument, etc. & it will often differ from all the lexical definitions on offer.

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
So then the issue is what relevance or value there is in including past or future functionality.
We've already mentioned locker rooms and bathrooms and sports leagues, all of which are segregated by sex (structurally speaking) rather than by sex in the sense you take the term to mean. If a middle-aged man has a vasectomy, he (they?) don't become eligible to compete against the postmenopausal women in the "sexless" category.

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
But if they're both stipulative definitions...
They are not, AFAICT.

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
But in the case of Hilton's "thesis", you really have modify that definition to qualify "male" - at least in the case of "child" - with "non-functional".
No, you don't, since Hilton & co. are free to infer future functionality from the presence of structures such as testicles.

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Hilton and Company are clearly making the sexes into polythetic categories, and you can't just do some hand waving and claim each subcategory is the same as the others.
If you are correct that Hilton is saying the sexes are polythetic, then you should be able to come up with at least two criteria which she is using, neither of which is a defining property present in all members of the defined class.

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Probably something like a 67% chance that any given penis-haver is in fact a (functional) male, and in 2 times out of 3 making that inference probably won't be wrong or cause many problems.
Can you come up with a situation (not involving sperm donation) where that 1/3 inference is problematic?
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Old 18th September 2022, 09:23 AM   #104
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Originally Posted by casebro View Post
Is this a good place for a statistical question?

"in 4% of newborns the doctors can't tell male or female"? Sounds out of the bounds of everything I ever heard.

The figure I have encountered is 0.018% either so ambiguous as to require further testing, or in which the sex is misidentified.

Sounds like someone has read the vastly overinflated figure for "intersex" dreamed up by a trans activist by adding in things like hypospadias and various adrenal hyperplasia conditions (which are neither "intersex" nor do they cause any difficulty with correct sexing of the neonate) and assumed that all these cases are characterised by ambiguous genitalia. Which they are not.

Actually I think they've gone even further, because even the hyperinflated figure that I came across was only something like 0.7% "intersex". Where the idea of 4% came from I don't know.
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Old 18th September 2022, 09:37 AM   #105
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Originally Posted by casebro View Post
"in 4% of newborns the doctors can't tell male or female"?
I cannot tell whom you are quoting, but the correct figure is closer to 0.13%.
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Old 18th September 2022, 09:54 AM   #106
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That was higher than I read, but note the conclusions section.

Quote:
The frequency of ambiguous genitalia was higher than in previous studies, but, as with any experiment, the finding should be met with caution because this study was conducted in tertiary care hospitals.
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Old 18th September 2022, 10:36 AM   #107
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post


Think I've already answered that question - several times, directly or indirectly, here or other threads. Don't think you're paying attention or are particularly honest in your responses - or the lack of them. See here:

http://www.internationalskeptics.com...2&postcount=32
The only confusion I see here is the confusion that has arisen for you by insisting that the functional definition must be adopted.

I'm asking you for practical, everyday examples of confusion arising from use of the structural definition.

In every real-world example we've discussed so far, it seems to me that the structural definition, when used, either does not cause confusion, or eliminates confusion.

So again I ask: What confusion arises from using the structural definition, Steersman?

And to be clear - since you seem to be... confused about the nature of the question - I'm not asking for theoretical or philosophical answers. I'm not asking for answers based on your preferred interpretation of dictionary definitions.

I'm asking for real-world, practical-application answers about the structural definition as used in everyday life. Give me an example of where using the structural definition of male and female causes confusion.

Restrooms? Obviously not. Prisons? Obviously not. Sports? Recognition? Sexual attraction? Obviously not!

So where in everyday life does this confusion arise, Steersman? Who gets confused when a structurally male person is referred to as male? You?

Quote:
This post doesn't even attempt to answer my question.
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Old 18th September 2022, 10:40 AM   #108
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post

...

So where in everyday life does this confusion arise, Steersman? Who gets confused when a structurally male person is referred to as male? You?
It reminds me of that corny old joke, where a boy is in a school marching band. As the band passes his parents in the street, one says "Hey! They're all out of step except our little Johnny!"
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Old 18th September 2022, 08:23 PM   #109
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Neither the OED nor Wikipedia have any problem referring to postmenopausal females, prepubescent males, male/female infants, etc. and thus you don't get to claim these sources for your quixotic crusade to narrow the common definitions of male and female to exclude all those who haven't yet or no longer produce gametes, and by now it seems increasingly dishonest for you to continue doing so.
So what if OED "refer to postmenopausal females"? We've agreed that dictionaries are descriptive. They'll say black is white if some group is saying X is black, and another group is saying X is white.

But if some definitions are stipulative, if they match stipulative definitions of biology - as I've shown to be the case - then it's absolutely immaterial that some usages contradict those definitions. You might just as well argue that we should change the rules of arithmetic because someone once said "2+2=5".


Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Stipulative definition is a term of art for a definition which has been clearly laid out for the purposes of a specific conversation, publication, discussion, argument, etc. & it will often differ from all the lexical definitions on offer.
Think you've got your thumbs - to the elbows - on the scales because that Wiki article doesn't say anything of the sort. What it DOES say is this:

Quote:
When the term already exists, this definition may, but does not necessarily, contradict the dictionary (lexical) definition of the term.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stipulative_definition

Bottom line is that you seem rather desperately committed to rejecting any stipulative definitions - even those of Hilton and Company - that specify necessary and sufficient conditions for category membership. Even where there seems to be some urgent necessity for them to separate wheat and chaff.

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
We've already mentioned locker rooms and bathrooms and sports leagues, all of which are segregated by sex (structurally speaking) rather than by sex in the sense you take the term to mean. If a middle-aged man has a vasectomy, he (they?) don't become eligible to compete against the postmenopausal women in the "sexless" category.
Is there any such sports leagues for the sexless?

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
They are not, AFAICT.
You entirely unevidenced opinion then - noted ...

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
No, you don't, since Hilton & co. are free to infer future functionality from the presence of structures such as testicles.
Horse feathers. The Wikipedia article on sequential hermaphrodites clearly found it necessary to qualify their use of "male" and "female" with "functional". Manifest evidence that, by the HHWH definitions they apparently subscribe to, there are "non-functional" "males" and "females". Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander ...

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
If you are correct that Hilton is saying the sexes are polythetic, then you should be able to come up with at least two criteria which she is using, neither of which is a defining property present in all members of the defined class.
Clearly you're not listening, or you refuse to address my arguments since I've explained several times that the criteria she is using are past, present, and future functionality. There are three mutually exclusive conditions for category membership which makes their categorization into a trinary, into a spectrum - however you want to order the individual conditions.

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Can you come up with a situation (not involving sperm donation) where that 1/3 inference is problematic?
LoL. Apart from all the cases where the ability to actually produce sperm is an essential element - see the above re sequential hermaphrodites - there are no cases where producing them is an essential element, where "that 1/3 inference is problematic" ...

You clearly refuse to address my arguments, notably that the structure-absent-function definitions clearly conflicts with the standard biological definitions of Parker & Lehtonen, of the Oxford Dictionary of Biology, of Griffiths and Del Giudice. Which you've conceded does in fact cause confusion. And in a wide range of circumstances, some of which I've clearly described - repeatedly.

You've put diddly-squat on the table in the way of any actual definitions, apart from those Hilton and Company had published in the UK Times - hardly any sort of peer-reviewed biological journal. If anyone is being "increasingly dishonest" in this "debate", methinks you're rather more guilty of that than I am.
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Old 18th September 2022, 08:32 PM   #110
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
....

I'm asking for real-world, practical-application answers about the structural definition as used in everyday life. Give me an example of where using the structural definition of male and female causes confusion. ....
I've explained it several times relative to several situations - you're just not listening. Or you refuse to address them because they contradict the dogma you subscribe to - "Every one - of every anisogamic species - is either male or female, no exceptions! The Bible tells me so!"

"Despite Their Superficial Openness To Criticism, People In EA Are Only Willing To Engage With A Narrow Selection Of Critiques That Flatter Their Preconceptions, While Truly Threatening Criticisms Are Excluded From The Window Of Acceptable Discourse."

https://astralcodexten.substack.com/...m-of-criticism
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Old 19th September 2022, 07:43 AM   #111
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
But if some definitions are stipulative, if they match stipulative definitions of biology - as I've shown to be the case - then it's absolutely immaterial that some usages contradict those definitions.
Once again, some definitions are stipulated for the purposes of a specific argument, discussion, etc. but there are no "stipulative definitions of biology" since no one has the authority to stipulate usage for an entire scientific field.

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Bottom line is that you seem rather desperately committed to rejecting any stipulative definitions - even those of Hilton and Company - that specify necessary and sufficient conditions for category membership.
Where did Hilton & co. claim to be stipulating definitions for the sake of a limited discussion rather than relating their understanding of common usage within the field?

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Is there any such sports leagues for the sexless?
No, because sports leagues are segregated based on structural considerations rather than gamete production.

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
The Wikipedia article on sequential hermaphrodites clearly found it necessary to qualify their use of "male" and "female" with "functional".
Let me double check the OP to see if I'm interested in arguing about clownfish.

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Clearly you're not listening, or you refuse to address my arguments since I've explained several times that the criteria she is using are past, present, and future functionality. There are three mutually exclusive conditions for category membership which makes their categorization into a trinary, into a spectrum - however you want to order the individual conditions.
Every mammal can be sorted into functional or non-functional, taking into account their entire lifetime. The sexually functional ones can be sorted further into either male or female based on the function performed. That leaves three categories, but it's not even a discrete spectrum because there is no x-axis (measure) upon which to plot the data.

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
You clearly refuse to address my arguments, notably that the structure-absent-function definitions clearly conflicts with the standard biological definitions of Parker & Lehtonen, of the Oxford Dictionary of Biology, of Griffiths and Del Giudice.
You clearly refuse to come up with a real world example where Parker & Lehtonen outperform the definitions given in the OP, despite being asked to do so so many times that I've lost count.
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Old 19th September 2022, 08:09 AM   #112
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
I've explained it several times relative to several situations - you're just not listening.
That may be so. I apologize. Please. Humor me one last time. What, in your opinion, is the best example of day to day confusion that might arise, from my use of the structural definition? Or if not the best example, the one that comes first to your mind.
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Old 19th September 2022, 08:45 AM   #113
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I don't know if this had been addressed earlier but per OP, he has limit the scope for a useful answer. The strict biological definition of male/female is already well established.
However, the question is whether one should adhere to those characteristics when it concerns man/woman. One differetiation is purely biological the other more socially constructed and psychological in nature. Is it necessary for there to be a one to one binary correspondence one in traditionally acceptable pairing?
Again, even in the biological realm, the male/female is not a binary category, with variations in between. So should these be accepted or rejected because it makes some people feel icky.
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Old 19th September 2022, 08:53 AM   #114
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How is male/female not a binary category? What is in between, other than developmental anomalies affecting bodies which are nevertheless one or the other?

Two gametes. Every individual arises as the result of the fusion of one of each type. You can't get more binary than that.
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Old 19th September 2022, 08:53 AM   #115
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Originally Posted by Susheel View Post
I don't know if this had been addressed earlier but per OP, he has limit the scope for a useful answer. The strict biological definition of male/female is already well established.
However, the question is whether one should adhere to those characteristics when it concerns man/woman. One differetiation is purely biological the other more socially constructed and psychological in nature. Is it necessary for there to be a one to one binary correspondence one in traditionally acceptable pairing?
This thread was created intentionally and explicitly to examine the biological question only. Social constructs of gender, traditions in pairing, etc., are out of scope for this thread. Try the Other Thread, if you really want to discuss those questions.

Quote:
Again, even in the biological realm, the male/female is not a binary category, with variations in between. So should these be accepted or rejected because it makes some people feel icky.
Male and female in mammals is indeed a binary category, with no variations "in between".

There are exactly two development paths, genetically determined. All mammals get one or the other path, or very rarely some mix of both. This mixture does not create a third sex or a spectrum of sexes between male and female.
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Old 19th September 2022, 12:42 PM   #116
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
This thread was created intentionally and explicitly to examine the biological question only. Social constructs of gender, traditions in pairing, etc., are out of scope for this thread.
I agree with all of this, and I'd like to add that the definitions I (personally) use vary considerably based on intended application. Are we sorting dogs for breeding purposes? Are we sorting primates to keep the females safe from aggressive males? Are we trying to comply with legislatively mandated sex quotas in Irish politics? Are you trying to find the highest paid female CEO?

I think it's fine to say which definition you're using for which purposes, but I'd rather not delve overmuch into questions of sex/gender & public policy here in this thread since there are already one or two threads doing that.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Male and female in mammals is indeed a binary category, with no variations "in between".
There is already an intersex thread as well, where we get into what might count as ambiguous between the two sexes.

(I mention this for those reading along who haven't been there before.)
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Old 19th September 2022, 01:07 PM   #117
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Once again, some definitions are stipulated for the purposes of a specific argument, discussion, etc. but there are no "stipulative definitions of biology" since no one has the authority to stipulate usage for an entire scientific field.
You seem to think that it's somehow necessary for there to be some Pope of biology who puts on his cloak of Papal Infallibility and promulgates some definitions for the faithful. Any biologist can assert, can stipulate, what they mean by specific terms; whether anyone else follows suit is a contingent on how useful such stipulations are.

You at least should know that such stipulative definitions are ubiquitous in mathematics in particular - for instance, ran across this paper recently which is littered with such definitions:

Quote:
Definition: We say two points x, y in X are stably equivalent and write x s∼ y if ....
https://www.math.uvic.ca/~buricd/colloquiumuvic.pdf

There's no Central Clearing House of Mathematicians which gives their benedictions. If they're useful, sound, and logically coherent then they're kept, and if they're not then they aren't.

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Where did Hilton & co. claim to be stipulating definitions for the sake of a limited discussion rather than relating their understanding of common usage within the field?
Where did she say that their letter was "relating their understanding"?

If some biologist is asserting authoritatively what they mean by "male" and "female" - as Hilton was clearly doing - then that is, ipso facto, a stipulative definition. See:

Quote:
1950 R. Robinson Definition ii. 19 By ‘stipulative definition’ I mean establishing or announcing or choosing one's own meaning for a word.
https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/19048...mm/GU&d=190481


Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
No, because sports leagues are segregated based on structural considerations rather than gamete production.
Then maybe we should cut to the chase and segregate based on bedrock "structural considerations"? Like karyotypes?

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Let me double check the OP to see if I'm interested in arguing about clownfish.
LoL. No true Scotsman strict biological definition ...

You opened the door to clownfish by the heading of your OP: "strict biological definitions of male/female". What makes you think that such definitions are restricted to some small segment of all anisogamic species? But that is further underlined by the fact that NOTHING in what Hilton said restricts her definitions to mammals; in fact, it clearly refers to ALL anisogamic species. Period. No exceptions.

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Every mammal can be sorted into functional or non-functional, taking into account their entire lifetime. The sexually functional ones can be sorted further into either male or female based on the function performed. That leaves three categories, but it's not even a discrete spectrum because there is no x-axis (measure) upon which to plot the data.
Christ in a sidecar. Moot whether that's disingenuous or intellectually dishonest.

EACH sex, by Hilton's stipulated definitions, has THREE - count 'em, three - quite distinct and mutually exclusive criteria for category membership, i.e., past functionality (structures that maybe used to produce gametes), present functionality (structures which produce, regularly, habitually, gametes), and future functionality (structures, which may, in the sweet bye-and-bye, produce gametes). There are three quite distinctly different types of structures there.

Each of those 6 conditions - 3 for males, 3 for females - provides a point on the X axis which will correlate with the population size associated with each of the 6 - which can be plotted on the Y axis. A population distribution which clearly makes the two sexes into spectrum, not a binary but a spectrum. Well done, Hilton & Company! Bravo!, bravo!

Though one might note that it probably leaves a significant percentage of any anisogamic population out in the cold, i.e., those that can't ever produce, aren't producing, and haven't ever produced gametes of either type.

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
You clearly refuse to come up with a real world example where Parker & Lehtonen outperform the definitions given in the OP, despite being asked to do so so many times that I've lost count.
You refuse to address the cases I've provided, notably clownfish.
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Old 19th September 2022, 01:50 PM   #118
d4m10n
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
You refuse to address the cases I've provided, notably clownfish.
Please allow me to quote from the OP:
Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Resolved: Hilton, Wright, & Heying are essentially correct about what makes a mammal either female or male.
Quick question: Are clownfish mammals?

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
But that is further underlined by the fact that NOTHING in what Hilton said restricts her definitions to mammals; in fact, it clearly refers to ALL anisogamic species.
As it turns out, though, I stipulated a significantly narrower topic of discussion quite clearly in the OP.

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
There's no Central Clearing House of Mathematicians which gives their benedictions. If they're useful, sound, and logically coherent then they're kept, and if they're not then they aren't.
Stipulative definitions needn't be "kept" beyond the scope of the paper or discussion in which they are initially promulgated, although they can be adopted more widely over time. One of the ways you can spot a stipulated definition is that the authors make it clear upfront how they are using a word or phrase for the purposes of a specific discussion or publication. If the authors are not stipulating but reporting on general usage, they will say something like "'Sex' refers to one of the two reproductive roles in this process" rather than "We will refer to 'sex' as one of the two reproductive roles in this process."

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
If some biologist is asserting authoritatively what they mean by "male" and "female" - as Hilton was clearly doing - then that is, ipso facto, a stipulative definition.
Sorry, no, you are misunderstanding how the process of stipulation works. Please reread the first sentence from the wiki: "A stipulative definition is a type of definition in which a new or currently existing term is given a new specific meaning for the purposes of argument or discussion in a given context." No indication has been given that the OP definition is providing a "new specific meaning" rather than simply reporting what biologists generally mean when they use the words in question.

Quote:
1950 R. Robinson Definition ii. 19 By ‘stipulative definition’ I mean establishing or announcing or choosing one's own meaning for a word.
This is clearly not what Hilton, Wright, & Heying are doing. There is nothing to indicate "own meaning" here rather than expert witness reporting on how the words "male" and "female" are generally used in their fields of study.

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Then maybe we should cut to the chase and segregate based on bedrock "structural considerations"?
Yes.

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Each of those 6 conditions - 3 for males, 3 for females - provides a point on the X axis which will correlate with the population size associated with each of the 6 - which can be plotted on the Y axis.
You are not measuring anything on the x-axis, you're just throwing categories on there in any order. Have another look at the wiki page for discrete spectrumWP and notice that the x-axes have quantity labels such as "wavelength (nm)" or what-have-you.
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Old 19th September 2022, 01:56 PM   #119
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Then maybe we should cut to the chase and segregate based on bedrock "structural considerations"?
Not maybe, but certainly. And not should, but already have.
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Old 19th September 2022, 02:15 PM   #120
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Not maybe, but certainly. And not should, but already have.


Don't think either of you are playing with a full deck there - surprise, surprise ... - as I clearly qualified that question with my own answer:

Quote:
Then maybe we should cut to the chase and segregate based on bedrock "structural considerations"? Like karyotypes?
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