This essay is a defense of the social construction of racialism. I follow a standard definition of “racialism” which is the belief that “there are heritable characteristics, possessed by members of our species, that allow us to divide them into a small set of races, in such a way that all the members of these races share certain traits and tendencies with each other that they do not share with other members of any other race”. In particular I want to defend the “radical” social-constructive thesis that holds “the concept of race is exclusively the product of historical and cultural causes. It claims that humans do not tend to classify people into races when groups with different phenotypes meet, save for particular historical circumstances”. The quoted position is the consensus view among historians, sociologists, anthropologists, and other social scientists who study racialism but has recently been criticized by philosophical defenders of cognitive/evolutionary psychological approaches to racialism. Drawing on developmental studies as well as historical and contemporary cross-cultural research, CEP philosophers point to similarities of racialism across time and space. They hold that social constructionist approaches to racialism cannot explain these similarities. I hold that SC approaches do explain these similarities and that such similarities actually pose a significant challenge to the proposed CEP research program on racialism.
Keywords Evolutionary psychology  Racialism  Research groups  Anthropology  Cross-cultural research
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.3998/ptb.6959004.0008.002
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Social Construction of What?Ian Hacking - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
The Weirdest People in the World?Joseph Henrich, Steven J. Heine & Ara Norenzayan - 2010 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2-3):61-83.
Social Construction and the Concept of Race.Edouard Machery & Luc Faucher - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1208-1219.
How Biological is Essentialism.Susan A. Gelman & Lawrence A. Hirschfeld - 1999 - In D. Medin & S. Atran (eds.), Folkbiology. MIT Press. pp. 403--446.

View all 24 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Do We Need a Device to Acquire Ethnic Concepts?Adam Hochman - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (5):994-1005.
Understanding Non-Racialism as an Emancipatory Concept in South Africa.Raymond Suttner - 2012 - Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory 59 (130):22-41.
Tempels' Philosophical Racialism.B. Matolino - 2011 - South African Journal of Philosophy 30 (3):330-342.
Sources of Racialism.Ron Mallon - 2010 - Journal of Social Philosophy 41 (3):272-292.
Theoretical and Methodological Problems in Cross-Cultural Psychology.Carl Ratner & Lumei Hui - 2003 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 33 (1):67–94.
Racialism, Justice, and Teleology.Robin Attfield - 1977 - Ethics 87 (2):186-188.
The Yahoo and the Discourse of Racialism in Gulliver's Travels.Anthony Stewart - 1993 - Lumen: Selected Proceedings From the Canadian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies 12:35.
Are Cultural Phylogenies Possible?Robert Boyd, Monique Bogerhoff-Mulder & Peter J. Richerson - 1997 - In Peter Weingart, Sandra D. Mitchell, Peter J. Richerson & Sabine Maasen (eds.), Human by Nature. London: pp. 355-386.
The Biological Reification of Race.Lisa Gannett - 2004 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (2):323-345.


Added to PP index

Total views
171 ( #61,479 of 2,448,159 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
17 ( #40,195 of 2,448,159 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes