Exploring Race in Life, in Speech, and in Philosophy: Comments on Joshua Glasgow’s A Theory of Race
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Josh Glasgow’s book A Theory of Race (2009) presents an important argument for the claim that race is an illusion and, that racial claims are, strictly speaking, false. They are false because the concept of race, according to Glasgow, makes a non-negotiable commitment to races being biologically based kinds, or at least to races not being wholly social kinds. Although Glasgow considers empirical evidence for this commitment (Ch 4), the data is inconclusive; instead he relies on a traditional method of thought experiment to argue that wholly social analyses fail to capture our intuitions (§6.2). Glasgow supports a reconstructionist approach which would have us adopt a family of concepts related to race, viz., race* concepts. Race*s are very much like races, except that it is not part of the concept of race* that race*s are biological kinds. (I take it that in ordinary circumstances post-reconstruction the terms ‘race’ and ‘race*’ are to be pronounced the same and spelled the same, but as we pre-reconstructionists consider the reconstructionist proposal, we use the ‘*’ to keep our meanings differentiated (139-40).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Linguistics and Philosophy
Symposia on Gender, Race and Philosophy
Haslanger, Sally. "Exploring Race in Life, in Speech, and in Philosophy: Comments on Joshua Glasgow’s A Theory of Race." Symposia on Gender, Race and Philosophy, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Fall 2009).
Final published version