Why Language Matters: Former Oxford Professor Gives Speech On Gender Identity at Pembroke Gun Club

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2023/09/28/why-language-matters-former-oxford-professor-gives-speech-on-gender-identity-at-pembroke-gun-club/

A former research professor at Oxford University and conservative Catholic delivered a speech to several dozen people on gender identity in Pembroke on Wednesday.

U.S. Army veteran and philosopher Michael Robillard gave a speech titled “What’s at Stake:  Gender Identity in a Shifting Culture” at the Old Colony Sportsmen’s Association on Wednesday, September 27. Pembroke Rising, a conservative grassroots organization focused on local politics, put the event together.

In his approximately 45-minute speech, Robillard used his philosophy of language background to contend that one’s self-selected gender identity has no place in law and that the premise is nonsensical. 

At the start of his speech, Robillard explained his background and how he left academia in 2021 to be an independent scholar.

“I went from a military officer to an Oxford philosopher,” he said. “Now I’m a guy giving a talk at a gun club about why men can’t get pregnant.”

During his speech, Robillard cited Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s perspective on philosophy of language and how he sees it as a missing piece of the debate over transgenderism in the United States.

Robillard noted that language and meaning are necessarily public.

“For a language to be a language, or for a word or definition to be meaningful or intelligible at all, words, meanings, and definitions must, in-principle, be public and shared,” he said. “You don’t get to stipulate your own meanings completely out of whole-cloth. Language is a public good.”

An example in modern society, he said, is liberals being unable to define what a woman is — or their contention that anyone who identifies as a woman is a woman without any set standard of what that looks like or entails.

“Once we remove the public standard for terms like ‘male’ and ‘female’ and re-index it to the private and in-principle uncommunicable subjectivity of an elect group of special speakers — a special group of elect speakers who they themselves can’t even offer a substantive definition of these terms — nearly all of our other shared meanings and shared institutions are necessarily affected, and negatively so,” Robillard said.

Robillard also said that attempts to reappropriate words to mean things they cannot is irrational. 

“No one can have all the words … because they’re attached to things,” he said. “They’re attached to our institutions. To our laws. To our customs, to our culture, to our records, to our science, to our history, to the very fabric that makes us who we are. They’re attached to the meanings we individually and collectively navigate and make sense of our world by; past, present and future. They’re attached to the primary medium by which we relate both to one another as well as to ourselves. Most importantly, they are attached to the world.”

More of Robillard’s work is available at https://www.michaelrobillard.com/.


New to NewBostonPost? Conservative media is hard to find in Massachusetts. But you’ve found it. Now dip your toe in the water for two bucks — $2 for two months. And join the real revolution.