Race: Deflate or Pop?

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Abstract
Neven Sesardic has recently defended his arguments in favour of racial naturalism—the view that race is a valid biological category—in response to my criticism of his work. While Sesardic claims that a strong version of racial naturalism can survive critique, he has in fact weakened his position considerably. He concedes that conventional racial taxonomy is arbitrary and he no longer identifies ‘races’ as human subspecies. Sesardic now relies almost entirely on Theodosius Dobzhansky’s notion of race-as-population. This weak approach to ‘race’—according to which all genetic difference between populations is ‘racial’ and ‘the races’ are simply the populations we choose to call races—survived its early critiques. As it is being mobilised to support racial naturalism once more, we need to continue the debate about whether we should weaken the concept of race to mean ‘population’, or abandon it as a failed biological category. I argue that Sesardic’s case for racial naturalism is only supported by his continued mischaracterisation of anti-realism about biological race and his appeal to Dobzhansky’s authority. Rather than deflating the meaning of ‘race’, it should be eliminated from our biological ontology.
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Archival date: 2016-04-10
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2016-04-10

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