Confusions about Race: A New Installment

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (3):287-293 (2013)
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In his criticism of my paper on the concept of race (Sesardic, 2010), Adam Hochman raises many issues that deserve further clarification. First, I will comment on Hochman’s claim that I attack a straw man version of racial constructionism. Second, I will try to correct what I see as a distorted historical picture of the debate between racial naturalists and racial constructionists. Third, I will point out the main weaknesses in Hochman’s own defense of constructionism about race. And fourth, I will briefly comment on why I think that Hochman unjustifiably dismisses one of the potential sources of racial differentiation that were suggested in my paper. Before I start, though, a preliminary clarification is in order. Hochman kindly calls my article ‘‘one of the strongest defenses of racial naturalism in recent times’’, which might suggest to the reader that my goal was to offer a full-fledged biological explication of the concept of race. But in fact my ambition was more limited. As I explained: My aim in this paper was not to prove the biological reality of race. Rather, more modestly, I have tried to show that typical attempts to disconnect the concept of race from genetics have too quickly and too uncritically been accepted by many ‘‘race critics’’. (Sesardic, 2010, p. 160; italics added) I will continue defending the same position in this article.

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