Our concern in this paper lies with a common argument from racial discrimination to realism about races: some people are discriminated against for being members of a particular race (i.e., racial discrimination exists), so some people must be members of that race (i.e., races exist). Error theorists have long responded that we can explain racial discrimination in terms of racial attitudes alone, so we need not explain it in terms of race itself. But to date there has been little detailed (...) discussion of whether it is better to explain racial discrimination in terms of race or in terms of racial attitudes alone. Our goal is to offer a novel and detailed argument in defense of explaining racial discrimination in terms of racial attitudes alone, by attending to the neglected phenomenon of misperception discrimination, which involves differential treatment due to misperceived race. We argue that the discriminatory action in misperception cases must be explained in the same way as cases where (according to the realist) the victim’s race is accurately perceived. Thus, the victim’s actual race cannot provide the best explanation. The main upshot of our argument is that explanatory arguments from racial discrimination to realism about race fail. (shrink)
Work on the conceptual amelioration of race concepts is usually negative or critical: it uncovers social features that contribute to racial hierarchies. Much less focus has been placed on how ameliorative accounts contribute to positive change. Using an account of race developed by Steve Biko during South African apartheid, I will argue that we can extract a novel account of positive amelioration in which racial categories can have normative or aspirational force, contributing to positive change.
There are two competing ways of understanding nefarious expressions of nationalism in countries like the U.S., either as xenophobia or racism. In this essay, I offer a way of capturing what is attractive in both accounts: a way of thinking about the xenophobia of U.S. nationalism that does not miss or minimize the role that race plays in condemning such expressions, but at the same time does not risk overextending the definition of racism. To do this, the essay makes a (...) case for decoupling and slightly revising the meaning of the terms “racialization” and “racial formation” while also proposing a third term, “racial disintegration.” In doing so, we find that the xenophobia directed at certain pan-racial groups, at least in places like the U.S., promotes a unique brand of White supremacy and does so in ways that maintain or reshape the nation's understanding of race and specifically its racial categories. (shrink)
In (Re)Defining Racism, Alberto Urquidez argues that conflicting philosophical accounts over the definition of racism are at bottom linguistic confusions that would benefit from a Wittgensteinian-inspired approach. In this essay, I argue that such an approach would be helpful in disputes over the definition of metaphysically contested concepts, such as “race,” or semantically contested concepts, such as “racialization.” I disagree, however, that such insights would prove helpful or do very little for disputes concerning normatively contested concepts, such as “racism.”.
As belief in the reality of race as a biological category among U.S. anthropologists has fallen, belief in the reality of race as a social category has risen in its place. The view that race simply does not exist—that it is a myth—is treated with suspicion. While racial classification is linked to many of the worst evils of recent history, it is now widely believed to be necessary to fight back against racism. In this article, I argue that race is (...) indeed a biological fiction, but I critique the claim that race is socially real. I defend a form of anti‐realist reconstructionism about race, which says that there are no races, only racialized groups—groups mistakenly believed to be races. I argue that this is the most attractive position about race from a metaphysical perspective, and that it is also the position most conductive to public understanding and social justice. (shrink)
This paper defends the concept of racialization against its critics. As the concept has become increasingly popular, questions about its meaning and value have been raised, and a backlash against its use has occurred. I argue that when “racialization” is properly understood, criticisms of the concept are unsuccessful. I defend a definition of racialization and identify its companion concept, “racialized group.” Racialization is often used as a synonym for “racial formation.” I argue that this is a mistake. Racial formation theory (...) is committed to racial ontology, but racialization is best understood as the process through which racialized – rather than racial – groups are formed. “Racialization” plays a unique role in the conceptual landscape, and it is a key concept for race eliminativists and anti-realists about race. (shrink)
Adam Hochman has recently argued for comprehensive anti-realism about race against social kind theories of race. He points out that sceptics, often taken as archetypical anti-realists, may admit race in certain circumstances even if they are eliminativists about race. To be comprehensively anti-realist about races, which also means rejecting all ‘race talk’, he suggests that racial formation theory should be abandoned in favour of interactive constructionism. Interactive constructionism argues for the reality of racialized individuals and racialized groups to the exclusion (...) of realism about races. Its supplementation of comprehensive anti-realism is meant to give us the ability to account for all relevant phenomena of interest surrounding the question of race without having to admit that races are real in any sense. I argue that although Hochman’s interactive constructionism succeeds in establishing the existence of racialized individuals and groups, it does not do so to the exclusion of realism about social races. Furthermore, I show that his comprehensive anti-realism, even when it is supplemented with interactive constructionism, is inadequate to deal with all relevant phenomena of interest surrounding the question of race. (shrink)
The articles collected in this symposium are result of the workshop Doing Justice to the Social, which was dedicated to the work of Sally Haslanger. The workshop took place at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona between the 6 and 8 June 2016. The workshop was also the 10th Meeting of the NOMOS Network for Practical Philosophy. The network meetings focus on philosophical issues connected with practical concerns, examined in an open-minded manner. This sympo- sium collects articles by Rachel Sterken, (...) Esa Díaz-León, and Jennifer Saul, and also Sally Haslanger’s reply to authors. (shrink)
On most accounts, beliefs are supposed to fit the world rather than change it. But believing can have social consequences, since the beliefs we form underwrite our actions and impact our character. Because our beliefs affect how we live our lives and how we treat other people, it is surprising how little attention is usually given to the moral status of believing apart from its epistemic justification. In what follows, I develop a version of the harm principle that applies to (...) beliefs as well as actions. In doing so, I challenge the often exaggerated distinction between forming beliefs and acting on them.1 After developing this view, I consider what it might imply about controversial research the goal of which is to yield true beliefs but the outcome of which might include negative social consequences. In particular, I focus on the implications of research into biological differences between racial groups. (shrink)
My dissertation defends W.E.B. Du Bois’s philosophy of modern freedom, which he grounds in the historical reconstruction of the American civic community on the moral basis of free and equal citizenship. Rather than ascribe to him an elitist politics of racial ‘uplift’ and assimilation to Anglo- American folkways, I instead argue that he defends black moral and political autonomy for securing state power and civic equality. Additionally, he challenges both historical and the contemporary political philosophers, including John Rawls, Axel Honneth, (...) and Philip Pettit, to articulate the racial dimension of the development of a social order that actualizes the moral meaning of free and equal citizenship. In establishing his novel philosophy of freedom, I adduce three critical components: (1) Contra standard interpretations of Du Bois that claim he espouses a controversial racialist doctrine, I argue that his racialism is best understood as conceptualizing the ethical salience of racial difference in the context of a democratic plurality. In the light of dominant accounts of plurality that do not foreground race, pace Margaret Gilbert and John Rawls, Du Bois deemphasizes individuals’ free choice in social group formation. In accepting the importance of free choice, he stresses collective historical experience as furnishing the normative salience of racial identity, which prefigures individuals’ free choice. A racialist model of racial difference in a democratic plurality exacts the civic obligation to confront the historical legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. (2) In advancing the moral value of citizenship, Du Bois affirms the moral obligation of the modern American state to represent black interests from Reconstruction onwards. Drawing on G.W.F. Hegel’s normative theory of the modern state, I justify Du Bois’s analysis of postbellum federal policies concerning black freedmen and refugees of the Civil War. Du Bois observes that the Freedmen’s Bureau – established with the passage of the 1865 Radical Reconstruction Amendments – democratically facilitated a ‘social revolution’ by promoting the integration of black freedmen on the moral basis of free and equal citizenship under the aegis of the federal government. Implicit in his analysis is a normative commitment to representational government that in attending to the needs of the postbellum black community incorporates black political will in the public adjudication of the common good – a historically unprecedented phenomenon. (3) With the rise of Jim Crow, when the U.S. federal government skirted its moral obligation to defend black interests, Du Bois argues that the black church and college assumed a civic function. Habits of citizenship flourished there, affirming the moral agency of African Americans as American citizens. Inasmuch as these institutions groomed disenfranchised black citizens for the assumption of political power, I articulate the challenge they present to John Rawls, Axel Honneth, and Philip Pettit to chart the civic dimension of ‘private’ social institutions. Because they neglect to theorize the historical experience of racial subordination, their views of freedom omit a formulation of social cooperation guided by the notion of the civic within the institutional context of civil society. Specifically, their accounts of the interrelation between citizens, social institutions, and the modern state fail to capture the civic function of the black church and college during Jim Crow. Thus, Du Bois’s dynamic, institution-based account of freedom highlights the racial dimension in the historical contestation of the legitimate scope and ends of the American civic community. (shrink)
Many scholars and activists seek to eliminate “race”—the word and the concept—from our vocabulary. Their claim is clear: because science has shown that racial essentialism is false and because the idea of race has proved virulent, we should do away with the concept entirely. Michael O. Hardimon criticizes this line of thinking, arguing that we must recognize the real ways in which race exists in order to revise our understanding of its significance. Rethinking Race provides a novel answer to the (...) question “What is race?” Pernicious, traditional racialism maintains that people can be judged and ranked according to innate racial features. Hardimon points out that those who would eliminate race make the mistake of associating the word only with this view. He agrees that this concept should be jettisoned, but draws a distinction with three alternative ideas: first, a stripped-down version of the ordinary concept of race that recognizes minimal physical differences between races but does not consider them significant; second, a scientific understanding of populations with shared lines of descent; and third, an acknowledgment of “socialrace” as a separate construction. Hardimon provides a language for understanding the ways in which races do and do not exist. His account is realistic in recognizing the physical features of races, as well as the existence of races in our social world. But it is deflationary in rejecting the concept of hierarchical or defining racial characteristics. Ultimately, Rethinking Race offers a philosophical basis for repudiating racism without blinding ourselves to reality. (shrink)
Perez-Rodriguez and de la Fuente (2017) assume that although human races do not exist in a biological sense (“geneticists and evolutionary biologists generally agree that the division of humans into races/subspecies has no defensible scientific basis,” they exist only as “sociocultural constructions” and because of that maintain an illusory reality, for example, through “racialized” practices in medicine. Agreeing with the main postulates formulated in the article, we believe that the authors treat this problem in a superficial manner and have failed (...) to capture the current state of the field of knowledge in science and the humanities. In our commentary, we want to highlight two main omissions, and to notice three important implications for “a postracial medicine.”. (shrink)
A Troublesome Inheritance, by Nicholas Wade, should be read by anyone interested in race and recent human evolution. Wade deserves credit for challenging the popular dogma that biological differences between groups either don't exist or cannot explain the relative success of different groups at different tasks. Wade's work should be read alongside another recent book, The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution, by Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending. Together, these books represent a major turning point in the public (...) debate about the speed with which relatively isolated groups can evolve: both books suggest that small genetic differences between members of different groups can have large impacts on their abilities and propensities, which in turn affect the outcomes of the societies in which they live. (shrink)
I argue that standard explanations of Du Bois' theory of race inappropriately characterize his view as attempting to provide descriptive criteria for races. Such an interpretation makes it both susceptible to Appiah's circularity objection and alienates it from Du Bois' central project of solidarity—which is the central point of “Conservation.” I propose that we should understand his theory as providing a normative account of race: an attempt to characterize what some races should be in terms of what other races are. (...) In providing such an account I will also show how my interpretation of Du Bois' criteria avoids the circularity objection by making the criteria central to the project of solidarity. Thus, this interpretation avoids what I take to be the two main problems with standard descriptive explanations of Du Bois' criteria. (shrink)
Our symposium on Naomi Zack's newest book, The Ethics and Mores of Race: Equality after the History of Philosophy (Rowman & Littlefield, 2011), had its origin in an Author Meets Critics panel of the Radical Philosophy Association at the American Philosophical Association Pacific Division conference in 2012, organized by José Jorge Mendoza. The respondents--Kristie Dotson, Lewis Gordon, José Jorge Mendoza, and Lucius T. Outlaw Jr.--have revised and expanded their original papers and Naomi Zack has in turn provided a detailed response (...) to their contributions. The result is an insightful, critical, and multiperspectival engagement with Zack's work. Throughout the respondents' papers you will find references to the twelve requirements that Zack argues are necessary for an ethics of race. These can be found in an appendix to Naomi Zack's response. (shrink)
While ideals of racial purity may be out of fashion, other sorts of purity ideals are increasingly popular in the United States today. The theme of purity is noticeable everywhere, but it is especially prominent in our contemporary fixation on health and hygiene. This may seem totally unrelated to issues of racism and classism, but in fact, the purveyors of purity draw upon the same themes of physical and moral purity that have helped produce white identity and dominance in the (...) US. Historically, this is where the purity rhetoric gets its power. To invoke purity ideals in the US is to mobilize this genealogy of racialized associations. Today's zealous preoccupation with hygiene is part of our living heritage in a racist culture.Just as ideas of race and racial purity were debunked by biologists long before the public would begin to question them, ideals of extreme hygienic purity linger with us, even flourish, despite scientific evidence of their futility and harm. Why are we still so enamored with purity? Because, to some extent, our very self-conceptions are at stake. Other scholars have described how our process of self individuation is based upon exclusion. The unique contribution of a genealogical approach to this issue is that, instead of merely locating the problem in ideologies held by others, it can evoke self-recognition and self-transformation. We will tend to assume the problem lies elsewhere until we learn to recognize ourselves in practices that reproduce cultural ideals. As inheritors of this racist culture, we are all lovers of purity, and we are all responsible for rethinking this value. (shrink)
Contemporary discussions of race and racism devote considerable effort to giving conceptual analyses of these notions. Much of the work is concerned to investigate a priori what we mean by the terms ‘ race ’ and ‘racism’ ; more recent work has started to employ empirical methods to determine the content of our “folk concepts,” or “folk theory” of race and racism. In contrast to both of these projects, I have argued elsewhere that in considering what we mean by these (...) terms we should treat them on the model of kind terms whose reference is fixed by ordinary uses, but whose content is discovered empirically using social theory; I have also argued that it is not only important to determine what we actually mean by these terms, but what we should mean, i.e., what type, if any, we should be tracking. My own discussion of these issues, however, has been confused and confusing. In giving an account of race or gender, is the goal to provide a conceptual analysis? Or to investigate the kinds we are referring to? To draw attention to different kinds? To stipulate new meanings? Jennifer Saul has raised a series of powerful objections to my accounts of gender and race, suggesting that they are neither semantically nor politically useful, regardless of whether we treat them as revisionary proposals, or as elucidations of our concepts. Joshua Glasgow has also offered a critique of my externalist approach to race as an effort to capture “our concept”. I agree with much of what they say, but I also believe that there is something I was trying to capture that. (shrink)
Toward a Political Philosophy of Race, by Falguni Sheth, SUNY Press, 2009. Events involving the persecution of African‑Americans and other racial groups are normally thought to involve a pre-existing minority being singled out out for persecution. In Toward a Political Philosophy of Race, Falguni Sheth argues that this understanding gets the causal story backwards. In reality, a group that is perceived to pose a political threat has a racial identity imposed upon it by the state during episodes of oppression. On (...) Sheth's account, racial identity is the product of anxiety and panic on the part of the wider society. As she puts it, 'I distinguish between racial markers - skin type, phenotype, physical differences, and signifiers such as 'unruly' behaviors.' The former, in my argument, are not the ground of race, but the marks ascribed to a group that has already become (or is in on the way to becoming) outcasted." This review critically assesses Sheth's argument for her position and her accompanying critique of liberalism. (shrink)
In "Nations of Immigrants: Do Words Matter?" Donna Gabaccia provides an illuminating account of the origin of the United States' claim to be a "Nation of Immigrants." Gabaccia's endeavor is motivated by the question "What difference does it make if we call someone a foreigner, an immigrant, an emigrant, a migrant, a refugee, an alien, an exile or an illegal or clandestine?" . This question is very important to the immigration debate because, as Gabaccia goes on to show, "[t]o ponder (...) this question is to explore the vastly differing ways that human population movements figure in nation-building and in the historical imagination of nations" . In this paper, I am going to delve deeper into . (shrink)
Joshua Glasgow has written a wonderful book on race (Glasgow 2009). Thoughtful, clear, and provocative, it advances the discussion in significant ways. Space is limited so I hope I can be excused for restricting my comments to Glasgow’s assessment of my 2003 Journal of Philosophy analysis of the ordinary concept of race. The last thing I would want to suggest is that this exhausts the interest of his book; for that is certainly not the case. My remarks can be regarded (...) as testimony to just how stimulating his fine account is. (shrink)
Analyzing racial concepts has become an important task in the philosophy of race. Aside from any inherent interest that might be found in the meanings of racial terms, these meanings also can spell the doom or deliverance of competing ontological and normative theories about race. One of the most pressing questions about race at present is the normative question of whether race should be eliminated from, or conserved in, public discourse and practice. This normative question is often answered in part (...) by appealing to the ontological status of race: if race is an illusion, then it should be eliminated, and if it is real, then it can be conserved. 1 Thus, for.. (shrink)
When the issue of race is approached one is either for retaining race consciousness or for working toward its abolition. There are various ways people choose to retain racial categories and various definitions and meanings of race. As well, abolitionists take on a range of stances on when and how to eliminate racial categories. Nonetheless, that one must take a stance and advocate either retention or abolition seems to be required when studying race theory or discussing racial identities in terms (...) of questions of justice. These two positions are understood as contradictory as well as the only two options available. Using Fanon, and debates surrounding White Skin, Black Masks on this very question of race consciousness, this paper argues against expecting or requiring a clear stance on the issue or even posing it as a dilemma. Reading Fanon as employing an existential phenomenological methodology allows us to see how he exposes injustice by writing about experience and projecting a future shared community of hope and freedom without clear indication of the role our group identities might play. The paper will then show the importance of rethinking the question of perpetuating racial categories, particularly through Fanon, by analyzing three potentially liberatory projects, Critical Whiteness Studies, Indigenous Studies, and Development Studies , demonstrating how the endeavors of many practitioners who claim to already know what various identities will (should) or will not (should not) mean for us truncates these projects. (shrink)
Visible Identities critiques the critiques of identity and of identity politics and argues that identities are real but not necessarily a political problem. Moreover, the book explores the material infrastructure of gendered identity, the experimental aspects of racial subjectivity for both whites and non-whites, and in several chapters looks specifically at Latio identity.
Through most of the twentieth century, life scientists grew increasingly sceptical of the biological significance of folk classifications of people by race. New work on the human genome has raised the possibility of a resurgence of scientific interest in human races. This paper aims to show that the racial sceptics are right, while also granting that biological information associated with racial categories may be useful.
George Yancy writes that he edited White on White/Black on Black in order “to get white and Black philosophers to name and theorize their own raciated identities within the same philosophical text. … My aim was to create a teachable text, that is, to create a text whereby readers will be able to compare and engage critically the similarities and differences found within and between the critical cadre of both white philosophers and Black philosophers” (7-8). White on White/Black on Black (...) collects together essays by fourteen philosophers—seven identified as white, seven Black—who explore, by turns, their identities, the natures of whiteness and Blackness, and conceptualizations of race more generally. (shrink)
In this work, I examine the meaning of the concept "race." I pose two basic questions: What, if anything, are we justified in claiming to know, based upon racial classification? and What, if any, are our ethical responsibilities, given the state of our knowledge and given the uses of the concept "race" in the United States? ;The first question raises issues as to the ontological and epistemological grounds for our beliefs about the significance of racial classifications. In this regard, I (...) analyze uses of the concept "race," indexed both to colonial and contemporary times. I examine scientific and philosophical literature in order to evaluate the ontological claim and the move from the ontological claim to claims regarding race-based mental and/or moral dispositions. I argue that our epistemic situation with regard to the meanings of racial classification is radically different from the epistemic situation of those who came before us. Given my detailed analysis of some contemporary scientific and philosophical claims regarding the significance of race, I conclude that human races do not have corporeal existence and that inferences as to inherent race-based mental and/or moral dispositions are unwarranted. ;Answering the second question requires that we examine the nature of individual racism and the nature of race-based generalizations. My analysis of various philosophical descriptions of racism resulted in a new, synthetic view of racism that incorporates elements of belief-centered, attitude-centered, and act-centered theories of racism. I argue that what is fundamental to racism is race-based differential valuation. I investigate the rationality and/or reasonableness of using various types of stereotypes and generalizations. I argue that while the use of some stereotypes may be formally rational, the use of race-based stereotypes must be rejected, both on grounds of unreasonableness and on ethical grounds, since it entails differential valuation. ;Finally, I point to the areas of philosophy in which the meanings of race and of the inferences drawn upon race-based classification ought to be considered. Among those areas are Epistemology, Philosophy of Science, Metaphysics, and Ethics. (shrink)
Philosophers and scientists have historically conceptualized race according to two main metaphors; internal differentiation (theological, philosophical and genetic), and external differentiation (environmental). This paper examines these metaphors and theories in Descartes, Kant, Hegel, and also Darwin and the subsequent racial theories of recent history. The paper argues that the externalist metaphor has a more liberal and potentially egalitarian tradition.