David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Does the concept of “race” ﬁnd support in contemporary science, particularly in biology? No, says Naomi Zack, together with so many others who nowadays argue that human races lack biological reality. This claim is widely accepted in a number of ﬁelds (philosophy, biology, anthropology, and psychology), and Zack’s book represents only the latest defense of social constructivism in this context. There are several reasons why she fails to make a convincing case. Zack starts by arbitrarily ascribing an anachronistically essentialist connotation to the concept of race. After having made that everyday notion semantically so crude and outdated there is no wonder that she ﬁnds it quite easy to conclude that such an awkward category has no place in science. Her main rationale for seeing our race distinctions as being poorly matched to biological characteristics (e.g., population differences in gene frequencies) is that these biological characteristics do not fall into discrete and mutually exclusive categories as “required” by the common-sense taxonomy. This opposition between the continuity of variation found in biology and the alleged discreteness of common-sense “races” is repeated throughout the book, and it is presented as creating an unbridgeable gap between biology and the colloquial concept of race. Contrary to what Zack says, however, today’s common-sense ideas about race are not so radically disconnected from contemporary science. Rather, “race” in ordinary usage is informed by biological knowledge to a considerable extent. Most people no longer think about race in terms of pre-Darwinian racial “essences” and “mutually exclusive” ideal types. In fact, as pointed out by Anthony Appiah (whom Zack quotes on this matter but without taking him seriously enough), the discourse on race has long been characterized by a practice of “semantic deference,” according to which people tend to use the word “race” assuming that the biologists could say more precisely than they could what it meant..
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library||
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Neven Sesardic (2010). Race: A Social Destruction of a Biological Concept. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 25 (2):143-162.
Robin O. Andreasen (2000). Race: Biological Reality or Social Construct? Philosophy of Science 67 (3):666.
M. O. Hardimon (2013). Race Concepts in Medicine. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 38 (1):6-31.
Robin O. Andreasen (1998). A New Perspective on the Race Debate. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 49 (2):199-225.
Massimo Pigliucci & Jonathan Kaplan (2003). On the Concept of Biological Race and its Applicability to Humans. Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1161-1172.
Jonathan Kaplan & Massimo Pigliucci (2003). On the Concept of Biological Race and its Applicability to Humans. Philosophy of Science 69 (3):S294-S304.
Naomi Zack (2010). The Fluid Symbol of Mixed Race. Hypatia 25 (4):875 - 890.
Ron Mallon & Daniel Kelly (2012). Making Race Out of Nothing : Psychologically Constrained Social Roles. In Harold Kincaid (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Social Science. Oxford University Press.
Ron Mallon (2004). Passing, Traveling and Reality: Social Constructionism and the Metaphysics of Race. Noûs 38 (4):644–673.
Lisa Gannett (2004). The Biological Reification of Race. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (2):323-345.
NaomiZack Zack (2003). Reparations and the Rectification of Race. Journal of Ethics 7 (1):139-151.
Robin O. Andreasen (2004). The Cladistic Race Concept: A Defense. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 19 (3):425-442.
Quayshawn Spencer (2012). What 'Biological Racial Realism' Should Mean. Philosophical Studies 159 (2):181-204.
Added to index2010-12-22
Total downloads12 ( #146,821 of 1,679,369 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #182,933 of 1,679,369 )
How can I increase my downloads?