Race Science and Definition

In Naomi Zack (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Race. New York, NY, USA: pp. 139-149 (2017)
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Abstract

Debates over the reality of race often rely on arguments about the connection between race and science—those who deny that race is real argue that there is no significant support from science for our ordinary race concepts; those who affirm that race is real argue that our ordinary race concepts are supported by scientific findings. However, there is arguably a more fundamental concern here: How should we define race concepts in the first place? The reason I claim that this definitional question is more fundamental is that our handling of the underlying definitional problem often determines the scientific support our ordinary race concepts need, and importantly the likelihood of finding such support. In short, the defini- tional question, “How do we define race?” often undercuts the question of whether race is scientifically meaningful.

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Albert Atkin
Macquarie University

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