The Ethics of Scientific Research Utilizing Race as a Variable

Social Philosophy Today 24:107-120 (2008)
Many philosophers have called for elimination of racial taxonomies in biomedical contexts, basing their arguments on one of two claims: that the use of racial terminology is unjust, and that the use of racial terminology in scientific contexts is inappropriate because race is scientifically meaningless. I argue that each of these claims is flawed, because justice sometimes demands the use of racial terminology, and because the utility of race in biomedical contexts makes it scientifically meaningful. I suggest a third argument that eliminativists might utilize: in spite of its usefulness, we should forego racialized medicine because given our long history of racism, any use of race will tend to crowd out other relevant factors. So, instead of continuing to use race as a convenient proxy for unknown “x-factors,” we ought to forego race and insist that researchers name the x-factors. The result will be better science, both morally and epistemically
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DOI socphiltoday2008249
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