What alignment are you?

I think this is very proximate to our discussions about gender, given that gender and sex are both social constructs and the problems we’re seeing with having in-depth discussions about these constructs being spectra rather than binary is that it seems those people who can’t answer “trans women are women” think this means we’re creating and reinforcing a binary rather than demanding a spectrum of genders.

Good and evil, order and chaos, are two axes describing spectra of behaviour related to social standing and pro-social behaviour. Dungeons and Dragons has a mechanic wherein you can assign your character Good, Neutral, or Evil, and Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic, making a 3×3 grid of alignments. It’s certainly more interesting than a binary Good/Evil choice (or, say, Paragon / Renegade, or Light Side / Dark Side), and it means very little outside of the scope of interactions with other human beings. It’s still by necessity an abstraction. Something like the Kinsey Scale for hetero/homosexuality being a 1-9, or Dawkins’ atheist/theist 0-7 scale — neither of those describes the panoply of positions one can stake coherently.

But, still interesting. Take this alignment test to see how you stack up. A number of my friends (including my wife) got Chaotic Good. I got Neutral Good:

A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment because when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Yeah, that does sound a lot like me. Including the sentence fragment in the last sentence! (I assume the “when” is superfluous.)

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What alignment are you?
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63 thoughts on “What alignment are you?

  1. 51

    We are Plethora @50

    …universally true for all…

    Outside of the maths, I don’t think there are (or could be) a “universally true for all” anything. So there should have been an “in my experience” or “in the vast majority of instances I’ve seen” or something to that effect added to the part you quoted me on.

    Im not saying that there are no, or cannot be, yes/no questions. A question sufficiently granulized and defined (or sufficiently informal) can have a yes or no answer. But, I can’t think of a single instance (off hand) of having heard/seen a “yes/no” question being used in an argument/debate/confrontation where the question was, in fact, sufficiently defined at the time of the asking.

    Using yes/no questions (confrontationally) to “pin” someone down in order to “clarify” doesn’t really do that until all of the definitions are understood and agreed to by both parties.

    For example: Is it daytime, yes or no? Answering with anything other than “yes” or “no” will be taken as disagreement with me and/or dodging the question.

    That is the kind of questions/responses that I see with regards to argumentative binary questions, especially on Internet arguments. And I hate them.

    Really, my whole thought process regarding this topic, comes down to language. If you ask me “Does A=B, yes or no?” Where your A=C but my A=D, I can say either yes or no, but neither is actually answering the question, is it?

     

     

    In terms of the above, I’m speaking about binary questions being used in an argument, confrontation or debate. Informal questions such as “Do you want another slice of pizza, yes or no?” falls into a different, but related, category.

  2. 53

    Not sure what this silly quiz had to do with gender? Except that I stopped reading when I saw all the people were considered by this test to be male (he, him, his). Since I am not, this quiz is clearly not about me.

    Agree with timberwraith, “cis people don’t get a say in our identities and where those boundaries lie.” I am a cis lesbian and it is not for me to say, any more than men get to mansplain being female and lesbian to me.

    End of discussion.

  3. 54

    Outside of the maths, I don’t think there are (or could be) a “universally true for all” anything.

    Gotcha thanks for the clarification. Also generally agreed. Though we would suggest possibly adding logic (or is that just a branch of maths?) and the phsycal sciences to your list. Maybe?

    Using yes/no questions (confrontationally) to “pin” someone down in order to “clarify” doesn’t really do that until all of the definitions are understood and agreed to by both parties.

    True very good point.

    Still that still doesn’t explain or excuse why no attempt was made to clarify the definitions or to answer using provisional definitions as opposed to refusing to answer at all. Nor (more importantly) does that explain all of the comments that preceded and led up to the yes/no question. After all this whole thing boiled over when people felt hurt or marginalized by Ophelia’s comments and posts in regards to trans people.

    Folks tried to engage with Ophelia on this for months to no avail and so they sought to clarify Ophelia’s views with a more pointed question. First and foremost it was an attempt to clarify and it could have been treated that way rather than as some kind of attack or McCarthyesque purity test. We can understand getting defensive when feeling attacked but that reasoning (or excuse if you like) applies equally to everyone then.

    But, I can’t think of a single instance (off hand) of having heard/seen a “yes/no” question being used in an argument/debate/confrontation where the question was, in fact, sufficiently defined at the time of the asking.

    Fair enough but would you mind indulging a few hypotheticals then?

    For example how about these:
    Are women people too? Should women have the right to vote? Should employers have the right to discriminate against someone solely because they are a woman? Do women deserve equal pay for equal work? Is it ever a woman’s fault that she is raped?

    Would you refuse to or be unable to answer these questions on account that “woman” (or some other term) is not sufficiently defined or understood? Are these questions unfair in any way? Or would you be able to answer them with just yes/no despite any inexactitude and fuzziness of the terms and definitions?

    Also, my headmeat is limited and fallible. I am speaking strictly to that which I have experienced, retained, and recollected at this moment.

    🙂 Limited and fallible? Yep ours too. Never met any yet that don’t fit that description have you?

  4. 55

    This test was setup so you could better work out your character’s (or any npc’s really) alignment. In 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons Law, Chaos, Good, and Evil are all physical forces in the universe so to be Lawful Good is to be closely influenced and aligned with the forces of Good and Law. Meanwhile someone who is Chaotic Neutral finds themselves greatly opposed to Law but mostly untouched by both Good and Evil. It’s not the best system and a lot of people just ignore it except for a few necessary game mechanics moments

  5. 56

    Yeah, nobody’s saying it’s a good mechanism for discovering if you’re a good or evil person. Or that the range of “evil” is fully covered. I said at the top that it was an abstraction, so there being bad options for you in specific is not a surprise. I’d desperately love clarification on whether the friend did the crime, and whether the king was a tyrant. But I answered them as though I only had the info I was given in the question.

    The way this impacts on my thinking about gender and the discussions thereupon, is if you imagine a 3×3 grid with “cis / trans” and “man / woman” axes. (Though there’s not really a neutral between cis/trans… you get the idea.) Being cis man doesn’t make me more of a man than trans man — we’re still at the same level on that axis. So. It’s, again, an imperfect analogy, but it was, I thought, a better illustration for those that refuse to believe that “woman” and “trans woman” are like saying “candy” and “blue candy”.

  6. 57

    We are Plethora @54
    Adding logic, probably. The physical sciences. Not so sure. “Universal” is mighty big and very very small (Quantum! 🙂 and doesn’t necessarily preclude other universes. (Having never taken advanced maths or formal logic, I may be way wrong.)

    Answers to your hypotheticals: Yes. Yes. No. Yes. No.

    Or would you be able to answer them with just yes/no despite any inexactitude and fuzziness of the terms and definitions?

    I’m comfortable answering those questions because I feel that I have seen enough of your comments to form the conclusion that we are in agreement on the definitions and that there isn’t any fuzziness. Therefor, they are easy for me to answer. When I was younger and less aware of trans issues (or even existence) I’m pretty confidant I would have been coming from a very different definition of “woman”. So the question of “are trans women, women?” would have literally made no sense to me.

    As I said earlier, language is not an exact thing and definitions matter. They are especially important if you are coming from different (not necassarily opposite) sides.

    With regards to the trans issues, I think part of what we’re seeing is the beginning of the mainstreaming of their concerns. The trans community has been SO marginalized that we literally don’t have (as a culture) the language to discuss the problems. It has started and there is headway due to the simple fact that it is, in fact, being discussed. What makes my heart weep is that, if the fight against misogyny and racism is any indication, it will be a bumpy, messy, and far far far tooooo long process.

    —————————————————–
    With regards to Ophelia, let me be clear. I am not defending her. I hardly ever read her blog and I have 0 concern for her beyond simple human kindness. From what I have been able to gather on the issue in my spare moments, I personally think she fucked up. Bad. On a number of fronts. I still have a LOT to learn about the trans community and the issues related to them. I hope that I am a good ally among my IRL peer group.

    However, My comments related to the yes/no questions are my exploration of just this: Yes/No questions in a confrontational context as it applies to many online/IRL forums. NOT Ophelia and her response. I’ve been wanting to get this off my headmeat for some time, but know that any of the Ophelia related posts would not be the appropriate place to do so. This particular post seemed to be a good one for this. If I’m incorrect, please, let me know and I will stop.

  7. 59

    YOB @57 and 58,

    Adding logic, probably. The physical sciences. Not so sure. “Universal” is mighty big and very very small (Quantum! 🙂 and doesn’t necessarily preclude other universes. (Having never taken advanced maths or formal logic, I may be way wrong.)

    Ah yes the quantum and the multiverse always complicating matters. BTW we’re in the same boat having never taken taken advanced maths or logic so probably wouldn’t know it even if you were wrong. 😉

    To your more general point about the importance of definitions it seems whether or not we would add physical sciences to the list is dependent upon our shared understanding of the word “universal” and probably also the term “physical sciences” if we get right down to it.

    As I said earlier, language is not an exact thing and definitions matter. They are especially important if you are coming from different (not necassarily opposite) sides.

    Agreed. In extreme cases different perspective and framing can even lead to diametrically opposed interpretations of the same set of words, facts or observations. Seems somewhat analogous to certain visual illusions (such as the Spinning Dancer for example).

    That said we would suggest that the yes/no question can be used as a potential means of elucidating those different perspectives. In other words it could be used as a way to draw out and make clear those differences when they were otherwise obscured. Sometimes. As always the devil is in the details and context matters. In this particular instance people suspected that someone had a significantly different definition of trans women than they did but previous attempts to get explicit clarification were unsuccessful. Posing the yes/no question was an attempt to verify and expose that difference by minimizing the opportunity for obfuscation and evasion that might otherwise be possible with a less tightly constrained question. So possibly useful as a rhetorical device in certain circumstances or so we would argue.

    With regards to the trans issues, I think part of what we’re seeing is the beginning of the mainstreaming of their concerns. The trans community has been SO marginalized that we literally don’t have (as a culture) the language to discuss the problems.

    That’s a really good point and the cultural learning curve if you will seems to be a complicating factor. As you alluded to these social changes tend to take far too long and they almost never follow a linear path towards progress.

    With regards to Ophelia, let me be clear. I am not defending her. I hardly ever read her blog and I have 0 concern for her beyond simple human kindness.

    Fair enough sorry to have pegged you as someone defending Ophelia’s actions in particular.

    I’ve been wanting to get this off my headmeat for some time, but know that any of the Ophelia related posts would not be the appropriate place to do so. This particular post seemed to be a good one for this. If I’m incorrect, please, let me know and I will stop.

    Will of course defer to Jason as this is his house but we don’t feel this is a derail or inappropriate because the yes/no question itself (and the reaction to it) is central to the underlying issue. It seems fair enough to discuss it more in the abstract or general sense than in relation to this particular incident but definitely Jason’s call.

    That is, i think, the longest comment I have ever left anywhere ever. Maybe I’ve been bottling up too much.
    More probably, because its a really good convo so far.

    Nice let it flow. Walls of text can be quite cathartic. And likewise enjoying the convo.

  8. 60

    We are Plethora:
    Your spinning dancer is a wonderful analogy for my aversion to binary questions. Thank you for that.

    Posing the yes/no question was an attempt to verify and expose that difference by minimizing the opportunity for obfuscation and evasion that might otherwise be possible with a less tightly constrained question.

    I accept that this is most often the motivation to pose such questions. I contest the efficacy of such tactics, however. I suppose, as I try to formulate my thoughts on this, that, for example in the case with Ophelia, the binary eventually led to a sort of “clarity”. First rule of holes, and all that.

    I still think binary questions, most often, are used as ultimatums. “My way or the highway.”, so to speak. “Yer fer us or agin us.” As a jumping off point to further discussion, maybe id be less averse to them. But I just don’t see them used that way. Positing binary questions seems to always be a backing into a corner tactic as opposed to a drawing out tactic.

    Fair enough sorry to have pegged you as someone defending Ophelia’s actions in particular

    Which I knew would be the case when I first clicked into the comment box. Thus my hesitation and my *hopefully* judicious choice of thread. And, also, the disclaimer, of course.

  9. 61

    @DuWayne #49.

    Trans women *are women* full stop! The *only* correct answer to “are trans women actually women?” is yes. Are there exceptions? For fucks sake of course there are!
    I find your use of language confusing. But maybe that is because my native language is not English. But in Dutch the equivallent expression of “full stop”. Means it ends there. No ifs or buts, no exceptions. So you first using “full stop” and then expressing there are exceptions, is IME confusing.

  10. 62

    It *does* end there. If you aren’t trans, aren’t a trans woman, *that* is the end of the conversation. There are always exceptions, and the exceptions in this case are important. But frankly those exceptions are incredibly rare today. Gender isn’t a binary and a lot of folks recognize that. There is little reason to identify as any sort of woman, unless you id as a woman period.

    Look at it like this: “Do young black men deserve to be gunned down in the street? Does *anyone* deserve to be gunned down in the street?” The correct answer to those questions is no, and no. Not a complicated question, not something that needs to be discussed. Young black men don’t deserve to be gunned down in the street, nobody deserves to be gunned down in the street. But of course there are exceptions. Someone decides to walk down the street shooting people, they should be gunned down in the fucking street.

    Or: “Does anyone ever owe anyone else sex?” I should hope that your answer to that question is absolutely not! Does that mean my partner and I can’t play games we both willingly consent to, that means me or my partner end up owing the other sex? Of course not! But should the fact that folks might choose to play those games has absolutely no bearing on the question of whether anyone ever owes anyone else sex.

    I say “full stop,” to mean that that is the end of the discussion, not that there are no exceptions. The number of rules that don’t have exceptions is vanishingly small. That doesn’t mean we need to recognize those exceptions every time a rule is brought up, or that it is even appropriate for everyone in every discussion to recognize them. In a lot of cases, the exceptions have no place in a discussion in which there is nobody to whom those exceptions apply participating.

    This is every bit as much of a derailment tactic as “not all men.” Fuck trans women and every bit of bullshit they face! I WANT TO WHINE ABOUT HOW *SOME* TRANS WOMEN AREN’T WOMEN, or I WANT TO WHINE ABOUT HOW GENDER ISN’T ANYWAY, or just DERAIL!!! DERAIL!!! DERAIL!!! Because the important issue isn’t trans women being excluded, trans erasure, trans women being raped and murdered, trans women being shit on from a great height! The important issue is whatever some cis motherfucker wants to make of it! Trans women are fuckingwell WOMEN! Trans men are fuckingwell MEN! And enbies aren’t fuckingwell either of the above! And THAT is all any cis motherfucker needs to talk about!

  11. 63

    The first question about disapproval by the family elders didn’t sit right with me. Your options were either change or retaliate. There was nothing about “agree to disagree”. I wound up Lawful Neutral, idealistic with some realism thrown in.

    Alignment:
    Lawful Good —– XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (22)
    Neutral Good —- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (21)
    Chaotic Good —- XXXXXXXXXXXXX (13)
    Lawful Neutral — XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (27)
    True Neutral —- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (26)
    Chaotic Neutral – XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (18)
    Lawful Evil —– XXXXXXXXXXXXXX (14)
    Neutral Evil —- XXXXXXXXXXXXX (13)
    Chaotic Evil —- XXXXX (5)

    Law & Chaos:
    Law —– XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
    Neutral – XXXXXXXXXXX (11)
    Chaos — XXX (3)

    Good & Evil:
    Good —- XXXXXXXXXX (10)
    Neutral – XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (15)
    Evil —- XX (2)

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