A Realist Metaphysics of Race: A Context-Sensitive, Short-Term Retentionist, Long-Term Revisionist Approach

Lexington Books (2014)

Authors
Jeremy Pierce
Le Moyne College
Abstract
There are three main metaphysical positions on race. Anti-realists do not believe there are any races. Natural kind approaches find sub-groups of homo sapiens that have scientific importance and label those groups races, generally taking them to be biological categories. This book argues that anti-realism is false, and the groups natural kind theorists point to, if real, are not the groups we care about in ordinary discussions of race. This book defends, instead, a social kind view, which considers races to exist because of contingent social practices. I argue for a social kind view that recognizes that biological features we use to classify people racially do not make races natural kinds. Racial groups could theoretically exist independently of any social constructions, since they are just groups of people, but social constructions single out certain groups of people as races, give them social importance, and allow us to name them as races. This book also identifies several kinds of context-sensitivity in our racial classification and sees that context-sensitivity as central to how racial categorization works. In terms of our moral response to these metaphysical realities, we need racial categories to identify problems in how our racial constructions are formed, including addressing harmful effects, rather than seeking to eliminate the categories in any direct way, but we should also make efforts to change the conditions that generate those problematic elements, with a goal of retaining only the unproblematic aspects.
Keywords philosophy of race  metaphysics of race  applied metaphysics  nature of race  racial theory  social philosophy  natural kinds  social construction  theory of race  context-sensitivity
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ISBN(s) 9780739175606
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