‘Race': Normative, Not Metaphysical or Semantic

Ethics 116 (3):525-551 (2006)
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Abstract

In recent years, there has been a flurry of work on the metaphysics of race. While it is now widely accepted that races do not share robust, bio-behavioral essences, opinions differ over what, if anything, race is. Recent work has been divided between three apparently quite different answers. A variety of theorists argue for racial skepticism, the view that races do not exist at all.[iv] A second group defends racial constructionism, holding that races are in some way socially constructed.[v],[vi] And a third group maintains racial population naturalism, the view that races may exist as biologically salient populations albeit ones that do not have the biologically determined social significance once imputed to them.[vii] The three groups thus seem to disagree fundamentally upon the metaphysical character of race.

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Ron Mallon
Washington University in St. Louis

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