Gender Fictionalism

  • Heather Logue (University of Leeds)


This paper develops a proposal about the metaphysics of gender by focusing on the question, what is it to be a woman? In recent years, the view that it is a matter of self-identifying as a woman has become increasingly popular outside of philosophical circles. Metaphysicians of gender generally regard this kind of view as hopeless, but it is the only kind of view that accommodates the strongest form of first-person authority (FPA) over gender.

This inquiry into the nature of gender is an ameliorative one, which takes the aim of securing the strongest form of FPA as its starting point. The main goal of this paper is to show that a self-identification account of gender can be made philosophically respectable, despite conventional wisdom to the contrary—if we embrace fictionalism about gender discourse.

In Section 1, I will outline the belief condition (a specific version of a self-identification account of gender), and detail several seemingly insurmountable objections to it. In Section 2, I will motivate the search for an account that accommodates the strongest form of FPA. In Section 3, I will outline fictionalism about gender discourse and explain how it can address the objections to the belief condition. In Section 4, I will flesh out some key details of gender fictionalism. In Section 5, I will outline and respond to a family of serious objections, to the effect that gender fictionalism trivializes gender. Section 6 briefly considers the question of whether we should do away with the “gender fiction”.

How to Cite:

Logue, H., (2022) “Gender Fictionalism”, Ergo an Open Access Journal of Philosophy 8: 28. doi:

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Published on
28 Dec 2022
Peer Reviewed