Passing, traveling and reality: Social constructionism and the metaphysics of race

Noûs 38 (4):644–673 (2004)
Among race theorists, the view that race is a social construction is widespread. While the term ‘social construction’ is sometimes intended to mean merely that race does not (as once believed) constitute a robust, biological natural kind, it often labels the stronger position that race is real, but not a biological kind. For example, Charles Mills (1998) writes that, ‘‘the task of those working on race is to put race in quotes, ‘race’, while still insisting that nevertheless, it exists (and moves people)’’(xiv, italics his). It is to ‘‘make a plausible social ontology neither essentialist, innate, nor transhistorical, but real enough for all that’’ (xiv). Racial constructionism, thus conceived, is a metaphysical position that contrasts both with the view that race is an important biological kind (racial naturalism) and with the more recent claim that race does not exist (racial skepticism). The desire for a constructionist metaphysics of race emerges against the background of a cluster of normative disputes, including.
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DOI 10.1111/j.0029-4624.2004.00487.x
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Ron Mallon (2007). Human Categories Beyond Non-Essentialism. Journal of Political Philosophy 15 (2):146–168.
Ron Mallon (2010). Sources of Racialism. Journal of Social Philosophy 41 (3):272-292.

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