Much has been written in philosophy of science about objectiv-
ity (Daston & Galison, 2010; Kuhn, 1977; Longino, 2002) but
now it is more or less widely recognized that this concept en-
compasses several aspects. For example, there is the procedural
side of objectivity connected with the standardized techniques
and mathematical tools that allow us to model natural phenom-
ena by abstracting and extracting them away from their original
contexts of occurrence in order to produce what Latour (1992)
calls immutabl e and combinable mobiles.
These mobiles are an instance of a circling reference (Latour,
1999) that functions as evidence in support of some particular
hypothesis by establishing their accuracy and, so, they exemplify
a different aspect of objectivity: representing nature. But th ey are
also associated with a third aspect of objectivity that grounds an
interpretation of objectivity as inter-subjectivity: the replicabil-
ity of observations. These mobiles result from standardized
procedures that in principle warrant the cancellation of idiosyn-
cratic biases by ensuring that any subject might be able to re-
produce those results.
In my view Fausto-Sterling concentrated so much in these
elements because it is a disservice to criticism to ignore the
methodological intricacies of science as well as its sociological
complexities; t o ac cu se scientists of projecting their biases upon
data without even analyzing their methodologies and the socio-
logical processes of mutual validation is not only risky but also is
the best way to generate a co n u ndrum in which both sides of the
dispute end up with a philosophical deafness hard to overcome.
Nevertheless, Fausto-Sterling understood something that
some philosopher s of sci ence h ave found ha rd to assi milate. The
task of philosophy should not be to serve as an unconditional
defender of science but, on the contrary, to criticize it when it
claims more than it can prove. The other side of her argument
showed that the CC was a literary object because the causal
narrative offered by physicians, biologists and psychologists is
still a narrative that situates within a background the empirical
findings and connects them in order to articulate an integrative
explanation of the phenomenon in question.
In a sense, Fausto-Sterling engaged in an informed criticism
that situated the scope of these results by emphasizing the com-
plex materiality of the CC. On the one hand, the materiality of
the CC is the m ateri alit y of the bo dy and so it is c onnecte d to th e
causal arrangements that underlie behavior . On the oth er hand, i t
is the materiality of evidence; but a piece of evidence is not
tantamount to a piece of the body because the evidence is pro-
duced through a set of standardized techniques and procedures
that translate a tridimensional living body into bidimensional
sections of a corpse or, more correctly, that translate bidimen-
sional sections of a corpse into the inferred structure of a tridi-
mensional living body.
And this process of integrating different sets of evidence and
interpreting them is still prone to cultural and systemic biases
and, in some cases as Fausto-Sterling showed, to blatant meth-
odological err ors. In the particular case of the CC, distinguishing
between the typically male and the typically female morphs of
the CC was controversial not only because there was no stan-
dardized technique for doing it but also because it was done
without specifying clear cut criteria that guided the construction
of this taxonomy. Claiming that sexual orientation or gender
identity resulted from the prese nce of a typically femal e morph
in males or a typically male morph in females was dubious
because the underlying classification was dubious. If this hy-
pothesis was accepted, wrote Fausto-Sterling, was not because
of the merits of the research but because it confirmed a cultural
and systemic bias: gay men and Male to Female Transexuals
(MTF) are just femi nized men and le sbians and Fema le to Male
Transexuals (FTM) are just manly women.
Anyway, both cases exhibit a common structure already an-
ticipated in the introduction. In both situations we find a criti-
cism that deconstructs the supposed validity and objectivity of
the evidence and the causal narrative erected upon it through a
dialectic analysis of the relationship between the subject-the
scientist and the object-the data.
More exactly, in both cases the criticism targets this implicit
dialectic that arises as a consequence of the demands of objec-
tivity upon the researcher. This is so because objectivity is un-
derstood as an ethical and epistemic neutrality in which the
values, goals and expectations of the scientist should be can-
celled in order to avoid any interference. The standardized tech-
niques, the mathematical tools and the replicability and inter-
subjective accessibility of the data should grant the veracity of
the results.
Hence, this produces an inversion of positions in which the
scientist tr ansfers to the data his or her own position as a subject.
And so, the data are in principle “telling us their truth”; they
occupy the s tructu ral pla ce of the subject becaus e they enunciat e
what is the case. But this enunciation is only possible because
the experimental settings stabilized—through standardized pro-
cedures, mathematical models and theoretical interpretations—
the possible outcomes of the experiment. In other words, the
object as a subject tells its truth in the vocabulary of the subject
as an object because the latter transferred not only his or her
position but also made possible the capacity of enunciation of
the former by generating a context free of interference in which
it can tell us its truth in a language we can understand.
Moreover, what is the case and what is the truth is the case
about some human subjects, is th e t ruth o f s ome h uman su bjects.
This makes the subject (the homosexual subject in this instance)
the object of enunciation. As structural positions, the subject
becomes the enunciated object and the object becomes the
enunciating subject.
Sadly, at this point homosexuality is naturalized and the
procedural dimensions of objectivity that broug ht i nto b eing and
kept the stability and immutability of these combinable mobiles
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
are usually taken as a d ispos able la dder. Th e liter a r y dime nsion s
of these mobiles are forgotten and they are reified as causal
mechanisms (Winther, 2006, 2009). Statistical correlations are
read as causal re lations, sociall y constructed taxonomie s are read
as natural kinds and local experimental findings are taken as
robust and trans-historical regularities.
But this is only half of the story. This is so because humans
tend to mold their behaviors and identities according to the
available descriptions of themselves—as Hacking (2001) has
famously claimed by labeling this process a “looping effect of
human kinds”. Th e funny thing about this l ooping effec t is that it
might produce, in some but not all cases, a more stereotyped
behavior. Thus, the subject reclaims a subjectivity apparently
enunciated by the object and, so, the hermeneutical circle fin-
ishes with a subject fully convinced of the naturalness of his or
her subjectivity.
Precisely because of this last point counter-explanations are
usually the first element of constructivist alternative explana-
tions. They counter-explained the data and restored the com-
plexity of the subject and, therefore, advanced the possibility of
searching for a different type of explanation.
Towards a Truly Evolutionary Social
But there is this fact that matters: we evolved. We know we
are subjects and we also know that bacteria are not subjects,
protozoa are not subjects, plants and fungi are not subjects,
sponges are not subjects (sponge Bob notwithstanding), worms
are not subjects and, about apes and some mammals, well, we
are not so sure anymore although for centuries we would have
said that they are not subjects.
And, by subjects, I mean that we are aware of our own envi-
ronment and about ourselves, even of our own awareness of
being aware, but I also mean that we are capable of acting ac-
cording to goals, desires and norm s . We are s ubj ects be caus e we
can be held a ccountable for our actions—we can be ethically and
epistemically responsible and, so, we are not merely responsive,
but we can also be subjected by institutions created by our in-
tentionality, by our capacity to know that the other knows that
we know; hey, we can promise! We are subjects because we are
capable of acting as a collective because we can share—mainly
through language—our goals and means to achieve those goals,
but we are also subjects because we can exert power upon others
through those i nstitutions; we can le t them k now things that w ill
alter their behavior, we can even menace or threaten them
(Habermas, 1999; and Schmitt, 2004, elaborate on some of the
previous points).
This is exactly what allows us to have a world, to have a cul-
ture, because, in Heideggerian terms, the subject is a Dasein, it
does not possess properties but existentiaries as forms of be-
ing-in-the-world (Heidegger, 1927). But, surprisingly, this ap-
parent difference might be the reason for taking evolution more
seriously, as Der rida advanced in The animal tha t Therefore I am
(2008) when he concluded that, even if stones are Weltlos
(without a world) and most animals are Weltarme (poor in
world), evolution is still fundamental because our capacity to be
a Dasein must have evolved from a previous condition of being
poor-in-world. Derrida himself criticized philosophers, specifi-
cally continental philosophers, for ignoring the fact that we
If so, then the subject m ig ht be the right target o f explanation .
Constructivists might be right about the uniqueness of human
homosexuality as a modern, western phenomenon explainable in
terms of subjectivities and identities that mold and are molded
by desires and institutions. But, if they are, evolution is not
expendable because now we are facing a most intriguing ques-
tion: How is that we humans became “evolutionarily” and be-
come “developmentally” subjects?
Such a change in the explanandum is not necessarily disrup-
tive to the research programs of physicians, psychologists and
biologists. After all, as Millikan (1984) has shown in the case of
explanations of a daptations, sometim es we misidentify th e target
of an explanation and attempt to explicate what results to be a
mere consequence of a more interesting and fundamental phe-
nomenon. For example, we might try to explicate why the stru-
cture of our hands is an adaptation for writing but, if we do this,
we have trans-historicized writing and misidentified a more
interesting and fundamental phenomenon: the capacity of our
hands to handle objects with an incredible precision and eye-
hand coordination. Similarly, if homosexuality is explained in
constructivist terms, then the more interesting and fundamental
phenomenon is our capacity to become subjects.
Cognitive scientists, neurophilosophers and biologists have
already begun research programs that might be able to tackle
some parts of the previous question. Kim Sterelny, for example,
is interested in the evolu tion of ag ency, desires a nd intentional ity
(2001); according to him intentionality arises in epistemically
translucent environment (examples of environments such as
these are social environments or highly heterogeneous environ-
ments) in which there is no singular robust environmental clue
and, so, it is more adaptive to triangulate different and inde-
pendent environmental clues in order to know what are the exact
environmental conditions and how we might proceed in such
scenario. Social environments are an instance of this kind of
scenario because a conflict of interests might arise among dif-
ferent organisms which may lead to cheating. Desires, on the
other hand, evolved in order to help the organism to ponderate
which activities should be a priority.
Sober and Wilson (1998) is anoth er goo d examp le of th is new
trend in biolog y. They ar e intere sted in the evolu tion of socia lity
and normativity. Wilson in particular has advanced the above
cited “Evolutionary social constructivism” but, sadly, he has
framed it in li ght of classical population ge netics (Wilson , 2005).
This is unfortunate because he understands plasticity only in
terms of norms of reactions, i.e. as the capacity of a genotype to
produce different phenotypes in different environments. This
seriously restricts the scope of his proposal because it still im-
plies a commitment with a view on phenotypic traits in which
they are always the expression of an underlying genotype.
In that regard, Poiani is probably the biologist that has better
understood th e challenges pos ed by constructivists. Although his
proposal is prone to counter-explanations because it still tries to
explain homosexuality not as a consequence of being subjects
but as a homologous trait present in humans and nonhuman
animals, it nonetheless emphasizes the plasticity of the brain
without reducing this property into a norm of reaction. For him,
plasticity en compasses the fl exibility of a trait th at is not entirely
canalized either environmentally or genetically. Thus, plasticity
implies cultural evolvability—the capacity of a system to un-
dergo evolution, i.e. to change—because a plastic system—like
the human nervous system—can react towards novel situations
by modifying these situations or by adapting itself into these
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 241
We are certainly at the dawn of these alternative forms of
doing biology. Current research is too much gene-centered but
cognitive sciences might achieve, if they embrace the construc-
tivist challenge , the possib ilit y of representin g hu m an n ature not
as the negation of our cultural complexity but as what grants us
that very cultu ral com plexit y. This wi ll imply a ret hinking of the
very structure of modern explanations of homosexuality and
human nature; rethinking also the constructivist challenge. We
might only hope.
In this paper I revisited an ongoing controversy within the so
called “Science Wars”: the epistemological and ontological
status of homosexuality. I claimed that, in t his particular chapter
of the “Science Wars”, we are continually left in an explanatory
impasse even when more data are collected, more rigorous
experimental techniques are developed, more subtle arguments
are offered and more pluralistic narratives are told.
My diagnosis of the source of this impasse led me to the con-
clusion that here we are dealing with a structural problem that
cannot be solved with an ela borati on of ne w models and theor ies
that maintain an ontology and an epistemology th at are no longer
suited as an explanans of human nature in general, and homo-
sexuality in particular.
In the realm of biological explanations, I pointed out the ex-
istence of two conserved structural features that act synergisti-
cally in order to bl ock an y chance s of a f ecund dialogue betwe en
humanities and biological sciences. First, the conception of
homosexuality in humans as a homologous trait to homosexual
behaviors in other animals, on the one hand, and, second, con-
ceiving homosexuality as a normative phenomenon that none-
theless can be grounded in biological causes that structure the
consciousness of homosexual subjects, on the other.
I also claimed that these conserved structural features, al-
though consistent with an evolutionary thinking, interfere with
the possibility of fully understanding the construct ivist challenge.
This is so because these conserved features offer a trans-his-
torical view on homosexuality that ignores the complexities of
the human subject.
This constructivist challenge has two more attributes. Both
emanate from a criticism that deconstructs the supposed validity
and objectivity of the evidence and the causal narrative erected
upon it through a dialectic analysis of the relationship between
the subject and the object. The ultimate goal of the constructiv-
ists is to restore the complexity of the subject and, therefore,
advance the possibility of searching for a different type of ex-
Nevertheless, my analysis of the structural features of the
biological explanations and the constructivist counter-explana-
tions also led me to the belief that, although biologists do not
fully understand the intricacies of subjects, neither constructiv-
ists understand the fact icity of evolution and the challenge that it
If so, then the subject m ight be the right target of explanation.
And, if so, constructivists might be r ight abou t th e un iquen ess of
human homosexuality as a modern, western phenomenon ex-
plainable in terms of subjectivities and identities that mold and
are molded b y desires and institution s. But, if t hey are, evo lution
is not expendable because now we are facing a most intriguing
question: How is that we humans became subjects?
In my view th e r esolution of thes e te nsions r equir es refr aming
the question in order to abandon the conserved structural ele-
ments that anchor research. Eventually, this should takes us into
a new framew ork in which we can talk of an Evo lutionar y Social
Constructivism in which human nature is not represented any-
more as the negation of our cultural complexity but as what
grants us that very cultural complexity.
I would like to thank Edna Suá rez for her sup port, advices a nd
encouragement. Also, I would like to thank Rasmus Winther for
his support and advices. Finally, I would like to thank the
seminars of Philosophy of Biology at UNAM and UAM-C and
the scholarship provided by DGAPA-UNAM.
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