Philosophers have little to lose in making practical proposals. If the proposals are enacted, the power of ideas to change the world is affirmed. If the proposals are rejected, there is new material for theoretical reflection. During the 1990s, I believed that broad public recognition of mixed race, particularly black and white mixed race, would contribute to an undoing of rigid and racist, socially constructed racial categories. I argued for such recognition in my first book, Race and Mixed Race (Zack (...) 1993), a follow-through anthology, American Mixed Race (Zack 1995), and numerous articles, especially the essay, ''Mixed Black and White Race and Public Policy," which appeared first in Hypatia in 1995. I aho delivered scores of public and academic lectures and presentations on this subject, all of which expressed the following in varied forms and formats: Race is an idea that lacks the biological foundation it is commonly assumed to have. There is need for broad education about this absence of foundation; mixed-race identities should be recognized, especially black-white identities. (shrink)
The role of motherhood was attenuated over the second half of the twentieth century, by literal and metaphorical factors: Privileged women gained control over their reproduction and developed non-mothering life priorities; government and society became less nurturing in public ideals; projects of spontaneous speciation began in biology; the environment became unsustaining. In addition, feminist criticism resulted in greater individuation between the persons of mothers and their children. With these changes, the role of motherhood lacks a positive identity, culturally and psychically. (...) Extending a literary character, I suggest that mothers consider an attenuated internal identity, based on their unique biological relationships to their children. This would afford a more positive self-identity, as well as a pragmatic solution to demands made by present “middleman” roles for mothers to procure expert child enculturation care, in addition to their “second shifts.”. (shrink)
We are morally obligated to plan for disaster because it affects human life and well-being. Because contemporary disasters affect the public, such planning should be public in democracies and it should not violate the basic ethical principles of normal times. Current Avian Flu pandemic planning is restricted to a response model based on scarce resources, or inadequate preparation, which gives priority to some lives over others. Rather than this model of ‘Save the Greatest Number,’ the public would be more ethically (...) served by a model of ‘Save All Who Can Be Saved,’ which is based on adequate preparation. And where events exceed adequate preparation, scarce resources should be allocated fairly. (shrink)
Positive law and problems with identifying beneficiaries confine reparations for U.S. slavery to the level of discourse. Within the discourse, the broader topic of rectification can be addressed. The rectification of slavery includes restoring full humanity to our ideas of the slaves and their descendants and it requires disabuse of the false biological idea of race. This is not racial eliminativism, because biological race never existed, but more importantly because African American racial identities and redress of present racism are based (...) on lifeworlds of race in contrast with which the biological idea has been an external imposition. (shrink)
Positive law and problems with identifyingbeneficiaries confine reparations for U.S.slavery to the level of discourse. Within thediscourse, the broader topic of rectificationcan be addressed. The rectification of slaveryincludes restoring full humanity to our ideasof the slaves and their descendants and itrequires disabuse of the false biological ideaof race. This is not racial eliminativism,because biological race never existed, but moreimportantly because African American racialidentities and redress of present racism arebased on lifeworlds of race in contrast withwhich the biological idea has been (...) an externalimposition. (shrink)
In this concisely argued, short new book, well-known philosopher Naomi Zack explores the scientific and philosophical problems in applying a biological conception of race to human beings. Through the systematic analysis of up-to-date data and conclusions in population genetics, transmission genetics, and biological anthropology, Zack provides a comprehensive conceptual account of how "race" in the ordinary sense has no basis in science. Her book combats our everyday understanding of race as a scientifically supported taxonomy of human beings, and in conclusion (...) challenges us to be clear about what we mean by "race" and what it would require to remedy racism. (shrink)
The American folk concept of race assumes the factual existence of races. However, biological science does not furnish empirical support for this assumption. Public policy derived from nineteenth century slave-owning patriarchy is the only foundation of the "one-drop rule" for black and white racial inheritance. In principle, Americans who are both black and white have a right to identify themselves racially. In fact, recent demographic changes and multiracial academic scholarship support this right.