Applied Philosophy of Social Science: The Social Construction of Race

In Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen, Kimberley Brownlee & David Coady (eds.), A Companion to Applied Philosophy. Oxford, UK: Wiley Blackwell. pp. 441-454 (2017)
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A traditional social scientific divide concerns the centrality of the interpretation of local understandings as opposed to attending to relatively general factors in understanding human individual and group differences. We consider one of the most common social scientific variables, race, and ask how to conceive of its causal power. We suggest that any plausible attempt to model the causal effects of such constructed social roles will involve close interplay between interpretationist and more general elements. Thus, we offer a case study that one cannot offer a comprehensive model of the causal power of racial categories as social constructions without careful attention both to local meanings and more general mechanisms.
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