Racial discrimination: How not to do it

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (3):278-286 (2013)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The UNESCO Statements on Race of the early 1950s are understood to have marked a consensus amongst natural scientists and social scientists that ‘race’ is a social construct. Human biological diversity was shown to be predominantly clinal, or gradual, not discreet, and clustered, as racial naturalism implied. From the seventies social constructionists added that the vast majority of human genetic diversity resides within any given racialised group. While social constructionism about race became the majority consensus view on the topic, social constructionism has always had its critics. Sesardic (2010) has compiled these criticisms into one of the strongest defences of racial naturalism in recent times. In this paper I argue that Sesardic equivocates between two versions of racial naturalism: a weak version and a strong version. As I shall argue, the strong version is not supported by the relevant science. The weak version, on the other hand, does not contrast properly with what social constructionists think about ‘race’. By leaning on this weak view Sesardic’s racial naturalism intermittently gains an appearance of plausibility, but this view is too weak to revive racial naturalism. As Sesardic demonstrates, there are new arguments for racial naturalism post-Human Genome Diversity Project. The positive message behind my critique is how to be a social constructionist about race in the post-genomic era.

Author's Profile

Adam Hochman
Macquarie University


Added to PP

1,290 (#6,507)

6 months
147 (#11,198)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?