Journal of Social Philosophy 51 (2):1-30 (2020)

Alberto G. Urquidez
Bowdoin College
Many theories of racism presuppose that ordinary usage of the term “racism” should be preserved. Rarely is this presupposition—the presumption of conservatism—defended. This paper discusses the work of Lawrence Blum, Joshua Glasgow, Jorge Garcia, Tommie Shelby, and others, in order to develop a critique of the presumption of conservatism. Against this presumption, I defend the following desideratum: If ordinary usage of “racism” prompts significant practical difficulties that can be averted by revising ordinary usage, then this counts as a mark against the normative status of ordinary usage and so counts as a reason for revising it. The significance of this argument is that it clears the way for a rigorous defense of revisionism. My paper provides a prima facie case for revisionism, built on two practical criticisms of the ordinary usage of “racism.” First, ordinary usage reflects incompatible norms that promote conceptual confusion and misunderstanding, among other problems. Second, ordinary usage reflects an individualistic conception of racism that serves the interests of whites. By championing ordinary usage in our philosophical theories, we (unwittingly) promote the interests of whites over nonwhites.
Keywords conservative theory  revisionist theory  normative analysis  racism
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Reprint years 2020
DOI 10.1111/josp.12338
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Xenophobia and Racism.David Haekwon Kim & Ronald Sundstrom - 2014 - Critical Philosophy of Race 2 (1).
Racism, Ideology, and Social Movements.Sally Haslanger - 2017 - Res Philosophica 94 (1):1-22.
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Responsibility.Joshua Knobe & John M. Doris - 2010 - In John Michael Doris (ed.), The Moral Psychology Handbook. Oxford University Press.

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