The Genetic Reification of 'Race'? A Story of Two Mathematical Methods

Critical Philosophy of Race 2 (2):204-223 (2014)
Authors
Rasmus Winther
University of California, Santa Cruz
Abstract
Two families of mathematical methods lie at the heart of investigating the hierarchical structure of genetic variation in Homo sapiens: /diversity partitioning/, which assesses genetic variation within and among pre-determined groups, and /clustering analysis/, which simultaneously produces clusters and assigns individuals to these “unsupervised” cluster classifications. While mathematically consistent, these two methodologies are understood by many to ground diametrically opposed claims about the reality of human races. Moreover, modeling results are sensitive to assumptions such as preexisting theoretical commitments to certain linguistic, anthropological, and geographic human groups. Thus, models can be perniciously reified. That is, they can be conflated and confused with the world. This fact belies standard realist and antirealist interpretations of “race,” and supports a pluralist conventionalist interpretation.
Keywords Race  Modeling  Natural Kinds  Human Kinds  Realism
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Citations of this work BETA

Gould on Morton, Redux: What Can the Debate Reveal About the Limits of Data?Jonathan Kaplan, Massimo Pigliucci & Joshua Banta - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 52:22-31.
The Mind, the Lab, and the Field: Three Kinds of Populations in Scientific Practice.Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther, Ryan Giordano, Michael D. Edge & Rasmus Nielsen - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 52:12-21.
Philosophy of Race Meets Population Genetics.Quayshawn Spencer - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 52:46-55.
In Defense of the Metaphysics of Race.Adam Hochman - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (11):2709–2729.
Implications of the Apportionment of Human Genetic Diversity for the Apportionment of Human Phenotypic Diversity.Michael D. Edge & Noah A. Rosenberg - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 52:32-45.

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