It is a big part of moral behavior in ordinary situations not to kill people. Yet the morally healthy inhibition against killing people has to be lost, of necessity, in war—even in a morally justified war. It is a big part of politeness—not in the sense of using the right fork, but in the sense of civility—in ordinary situations not to tell another person that she is wrong and misguided about something she cares a lot about, or that she cares about being right about. For brevity’s sake, let’s just say it’s a big part of politeness or civility not to correct people. Yet the civilized inhibition against correcting people has to be lost, of necessity, in a philosophical argument.The way she frames this is in terms of 'inhibition loss,' whereby one 'loses' the usual inhibition against killing/rudeness, and thus is in danger of losing other inhibitions along the way. She thinks the position of women in philosophy can be substantially improved simply by limiting the amount of rudeness in the discussion to 'no more than what is necessary,' in much the same way that Just War prohibitions against indiscriminate killing are helpful in preventing wars from being worse than they must be.
My experience is that polite philosophical discussion is not only possible, it's the case -- unless by "rudeness" you mean the odd thing she is framing as rude, the questioning of people's beliefs. Philosophy conferences are sometimes heated, but usually are extraordinarily polite. Philosophy conferences are also a great place to see things questioned all the way down to the ground. You will see people's entire belief systems destroyed in front of an audience, at times, but almost never in a way we would ordinarily describe as rude. It's only rude if you think it's improper to destroy ideas people care about. Sometimes, though, they're bad ideas.
Indeed, Arpaly's own work questions two of philosophy's most basic assumptions, the centrality of reason to morality and of deliberation to reason. Her opening example makes more sense if you read it in the context of that questioning.
I’ll never forget the old guy who asked me, at an APA interview: “suppose I wanted to slap you, and suppose I wanted to slap you because I thought you were giving us really bad answers, and I mistakenly believed that by slapping you I’ll bring out the best in you. Am I blameworthy?”.This turns out to be a highly relevant question, if desire ought to override reason in the way she is arguing it sometimes should. The prohibitions against violence (including all the ones in Just War theory) are rational principles. They arise not in the heat of the moment, but from abstracting away from the real situations of war to try to find ways in which these situations are alike. Those ways in which many different situations are alike are called "universals" by most philosophers -- I often say they are, properly speaking, analogies -- and the universals are rational objects. The reason we can craft general rules governing very different wars in different times and places is because of rational deliberation of this kind.
When he said “suppose I wanted to slap you”, his butt actually left his chair for a moment and his hand was mimicking a slap in the air.
The assumption that such rationally derived rules should govern these interactions is just what she is questioning: sometimes, instead of favoring rationally derived rules, we should listen to our desires. She is proposing a system for doing that and suggesting we would be better off, at least sometimes, if we followed our hearts. Thus the question: what if my heart leads me to violence? Doesn't allowing desires to override rationally-derived rules weaken protections against violence, especially in cases where her proposed system seems to justify substituting desires for the rules derived in rational deliberation?
It's a good question. The fact that she wants to analogize the situation to Just War only makes it a better question. It seems as if a model like hers is going to need very strong rules to prevent licensing violence -- and, by extension, many other kinds of passionate behavior. Otherwise she will have to accept being slapped by someone who really has a desire to do it that is grounded in the right way for her system. Presumably, she is not willing to be slapped. Indeed, she finds even the pantomime of a slapping so objectionable that she's remembered it for years as a clear example of something offensive in philosophy. She is writing a piece specifically to call us not to do such things. To say that another way, she is proposing rules governing desired behavior, to be applied to situations like 'philosophical discussion' in general.
If it does need such rules, though, doesn't that undermine her whole model? Such rules are rational, and are being derived at a deliberative distance. Moral behavior ends up primarily involving containing such desires according to rationally-derived rules that come from deliberation. She just wants different rules, presumably ones that allow for the indulging of desires she approves of more often than is permitted by the rules we have now.
The fact that we can see that comes from the question. It suggests that her basic model is flawed, all the way to the ground. It's an insightful point. I wonder if she has a response, beyond the objection that it was rude.