Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity―and Why This Harms Everybody

Helen Pluckrose & James Lindsay | 2020
Posted in: Member-Recommended Readings Social Psychology
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Cynical Theories explains how “Critical Theory”— a way of looking at the world — moved from a little-known scholarly pursuit in academia to a driving force in today’s culture wars over race, class, sexuality, and other issues. Critical Theory, the authors say, has co-opted the stumbling but 200-year-old mainstream force of social justice into a narrow, dogmatic ideology called Social Justice (note capital letters) that sees the world as dependent on systems of power, cultural identities, and “lived experience” as opposed to objective reality or universal values. They trace how Critical Theory has affected efforts in feminism, racial justice, LGBT rights, and other areas, and turned them toward rejecting science, individualism, human dignity, and open debate and discussion.

The authors say they are writing from a “philosophically liberal” perspective, which they believe encompasses all but the extreme “right” and “left ” of social/political thought.