Should We Use Racial and Gender Generics?

Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 8 (1):33-41 (2019)
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Abstract

Recently several philosophers have argued that racial, gender, and other social generic generalizations should be avoided given their propensity to promote essentialist thinking, obscure the social nature of categories, and contribute to oppression. Here I argue that a general prohibition against social generics goes too far. Given that the truth of many generics require regularities or systematic rather than mere accidental correlations, they are our best means for describing structural forms of violence and discrimination. Moreover, their accuracy, their persistence in the face of counterexamples, and features of the contemporary socio-political context make generics useful linguistic tools in social justice projects.

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Katherine Ritchie
University of California, Irvine