We acknowledge that philosophical arguments can lead to pain, anxiety and frustration when they challenge deeply held commitments — whether pertaining to gender identity, religious conviction, political ideology or the rights and moral status of fetuses or nonhuman animals. Moreover, some of us believe that certain extreme conditions can warrant restrictions of academic speech, such as when it expresses false and hateful attitudes or incites violence or harassment.
Yet none of the arguments recently made by our colleagues can reasonably be regarded as incitement or hate speech. Policy makers and citizens are currently confronting such metaphysical questions about sex and gender as What is a man? What is a lesbian? What makes someone female? Society at large is deliberating over the resolution of conflicting interests in contexts as varied as competitive sport, changing rooms, workplaces and prisons. These discussions are of great importance, and philosophers can make an essential contribution to them, in part through academic debate. Philosophers who engage in this debate should wish for it to be pursued through rational dialogue, and should refuse to accept narrow constraints on the range of views receiving serious consideration.