Realism, Antirealism, and Conventionalism about Race

Philosophy of Science 81 (5):1039-1052 (2014)
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This paper distinguishes three concepts of "race": bio-genomic cluster/race, biological race, and social race. We map out realism, antirealism, and conventionalism about each of these, in three important historical episodes: Frank Livingstone and Theodosius Dobzhansky in 1962, A.W.F. Edwards' 2003 response to Lewontin (1972), and contemporary discourse. Semantics is especially crucial to the first episode, while normativity is central to the second. Upon inspection, each episode also reveals a variety of commitments to the metaphysics of race. We conclude by interrogating the relevance of these scientific discussions for political positions and a post-racial future.

Author Profiles

Jonathan Kaplan
Oregon State University
Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther
University of California, Santa Cruz


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