Race and Racism: Oxford Readings in Philosophy
Boxill (Bernard), Ed.
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BOOK ABSTRACT:

Back Cover Blurb

  1. The aim of the series is to bring together important recent writing in major areas of philosophical inquiry, selected from a variety of sources, mostly periodicals, which may not be conveniently available to the university student or the general reader. The editors of each volume contribute an introductory essay on the items chosen and on the questions with which they deal. A selective bibliography is appended as a guide to further reading.
  2. The eighteen essays in this book deal with the meaning of two highly contested ideas: race and racism.
  3. Race is variously declared to be a self-evident fact of nature, a natural kind, a biological category, a political category, a social construction, an invention, and a fiction. Similarly, although racism is commonly defined as colour prejudice, some maintain that it is ill-will towards certain races; others that it is a belief, or sometimes an ideology or theory of racial superiority and inferiority; and still others that it is the practice of unjust racial discrimination.
  4. This volume brings together a wide range of analytical writing that discusses the nature of these controversial ideas. With an introduction exploring the themes and conflicting ideas present in the book, and including a previously unpublished piece on the alleged racism of Immanuel Kant, this book will stimulate a critical understanding of the true meaning and far-reaching implications of the controversies over race and racism.
  5. Bernard Boxill is Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina

BOOK COMMENT:

OUP, 2001



"Appiah (Anthony Kwame) - African Identities"

Source: Boxill - Race and Racism - Oxford Readings



"Block (Ned) - How Heritability Misleads About Race"

Source: Boxill - Race and Racism - Oxford Readings


Author's Abstract
  1. The Bell Curve1 revives and elaborates an argument given by Jensen to the effect that facts about heritability of IQ in whites dictate that blacks are genetically inferior in IQ.
  2. But clarification of the concept of heritability shows that this reasoning is fallacious.
  3. Heritability is an uninteresting measure that only misleads us about race.

Author's Abstract2
  1. According to The Bell Curve3=1, Black Americans are genetically inferior to Whites. That's not the only point in Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray's book. They also argue that there is something called "general intelligence" which is measured by IQ tests, socially important, and 60 percent "heritable" within whites. (I'll explain heritability below.) But the claim about genetic inferiority is my target here. It has been subject to wide-ranging criticism since the book was first published last year. Those criticisms, however, have missed its deepest flaws. Indeed, the Herrnstein/Murray argument depends on conceptual confusions that have been tacitly accepted to some degree by many of the book's sharpest critics.
  2. Let's first be clear about the conclusion itself. In a recent article on "The Real Bell Curve," Charles Murray grumbles about critics, such as Stephen Jay Gould, who read the book as saying that racial differences in IQ are mostly genetic. Murray answers by quoting from the book:
  3. If the reader is now convinced that either the genetic or environmental explanations have won out to the exclusion of the other, we have not done a sufficiently good job of presenting one side or the other. It seems highly likely to us that both genes and environment have something to do with racial differences. What might the mix be? We are resolutely agnostic on that issue; as far as we can determine, the evidence does not yet justify an estimate (311).
  4. In this passage, Herrnstein and Murray are "resolutely agnostic" about whether bad environment or genetic endowment is more responsible for the lower IQs of Blacks. But they indicate no agnosticism at all about whether part of the IQ difference between Blacks and Whites is genetic; and given their way of thinking about the matter, this means that they are not at all agnostic about some Black genetic inferiority.


COMMENT:
  • Originally, Cognition 56 (1995) pp. 99-128.
  • For the full text, see Link
  • For a shorter version, see Link / Link




In-Page Footnotes ("Block (Ned) - How Heritability Misleads About Race")

Footnotes 1, 3: Footnote 2:
  • Taken from a shorter version, How Heritability Misleads about Race. The Boston Review, XX, (6) (996) pp. 30-35.
  • See Link.



"Boxill (Bernard) - Race and Racism: Introduction"

Source: Boxill - Race and Racism - Oxford Readings


Author’s Introduction
  1. Racial classification today is commonplace; people routinely catalogue each other as members of this or that race, and seem to assume that everyone can be thus catalogued. They also seem to assume that human beings have always routinely classified each other as members of races. But on this issue there is scholarly disagreement. Some authorities, Thomas F. Gossett, for example claim to find the idea of race 5,000 years ago, in India, and among the early Chinese, Egyptians, and Jews. Others, however, and these now seem to be in the majority, contend that the idea of race is modern. According to Ivan Hannaford, for example, the idea of race was 'invented' or ‘fabricated’ only in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, after the 'French and American revolutions and the social upheavals which followed'. If he is right, the practice of racial classification that people take for granted today might have begun only 200 years ago.
  2. Many scholars also maintain that the races are modern inventions. 'Historians’, David Brion Davis observes, have increasingly recognized that the ‘races’ are the 'inventions' of Europe's 'imperial expansion'. Davis's claim should not be confused with Hannaford's. Davis's claim is that the races did not exist until Europe's imperial expansion. Hannaford's claim is that people did not think of each other in racial terms until the French and American revolutions. While Hannaford's claim is controversial, Davis's seems plainly false. It implies that the races came into existence only two or three centuries ago, but the common-sense and plausible view is that the races are ancient, even if the idea of race is modern. The common-sense view seems plausible because it assumes that the various groups of white-skinned, black-skinned and yellow- and brown-skinned peoples that we call the races are biological races. If these groups are biological races they are probably ancient, for the biological races are natural kinds and natural kinds are usually ancient. But Davis denies that the groups we call the races are biological races. His comment begins with the remark that 'responsible scientists have long discredited any biological or genetic definition of racial groups'. On his account the groups we call the races are 'social constructions'. Briefly and roughly social constructions are classes of individuals that exist only because of our ideas, beliefs, and practices. If Davis is right that the races are such classes of individuals, then he may also be right that they came into existence only after Europe's imperial expansion, if the ideas, beliefs, and practices necessary for their existence appeared only after or during that period.
  3. I develop these topics in the ensuing sections. In the first section I discuss the invention of the idea of the biological races. My approach is Rousseauian. That is, I begin with the assumption that human nature is originally good, and try to explain how and why racial prejudice and discrimination are nevertheless customary. Specifically, I argue that Europeans invented the idea of race for what appeared to them to be sound scientific reasons, and that the idea then helped to further corrupt them. In the next section I give a brief review of the uses made of the idea of the biological races. The following section takes up the claim that the races, as we know them, are not biological races, but social constructions. I argue that even in that case, and indeed even if there are no such things as biological races, the races as we know them would not exist were there no such thing as the idea of the biological races. That idea may be fatally flawed, it may refer to nothing, but it is among the ideas necessary for the existence of the social constructions that nowadays many philosophers, historians, and social scientists say the races are. Finally I consider the case for saying that the biological races do not exist. I believe that philosophers tend to overstate the case. The races as we know them may be social constructions rather than biological races, but it does not follow that the biological races do not exist.



"Dworkin (Ronald) - Bakke's Case: Are Quotas Unfair?"

Source: Boxill - Race and Racism - Oxford Readings



"Frye (Marilyn) - White Woman Feminist 1983-1992"

Source: Boxill - Race and Racism - Oxford Readings



"Garcia (J.L.A.) - The Heart of Racism"

Source: Boxill - Race and Racism - Oxford Readings


Philosophers Index Abstract
  1. This paper presents an account of racism as an insufficiency of good will, often constituting ill will.
  2. I contend this reflects contemporary usage of the term, especially its primary employment as both descriptive and evaluative. I also sketch some of this view's implications for the morality of some forms of race-sensitive discrimination in private and public life.
  3. Finally, I note some of this account's advantages over more familiar conceptions of racism – as a doctrine, as a socioeconomic system of oppression, or as a form of action.
  4. One feature of this approach is it presents racism as morally vicious and applies to a topic in social philosophy – points made in recent criticisms of modernist moral theory offered by proponents of virtues-based moral theory.



"Gooding-Williams (Robert) - Race, Multiculturalism and Democracy"

Source: Boxill - Race and Racism - Oxford Readings


Philosophers Index Abstract
  1. Part One defends a social constructionist concept of race against an objection raised by Walter Benn Michaels.
  2. Part Two deploys that concept to develop an account of black racial identity.
  3. In Parts Three and Four the author sketches critiques both of Molefi Asante's Afrocentrism and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.'s anti-Afrocentric American nationalism.
  4. In Part Four and in the conclusion, he uses his social constructionist concept of black identity to defend a version of race-conscious multiculturalism.
  5. The author argues for endorsing race-conscious multiculturalism as a research and pedagogical program for promoting deliberative democracy in contemporary America.



"Hill (Thomas E.) & Boxill (Bernard) - Kant and Race"

Source: Boxill - Race and Racism - Oxford Readings



"Levin (Michael) - Responses to Race Differences in Crime"

Source: Boxill - Race and Racism - Oxford Readings


Philosophers Index Abstract
  1. One out of four black males has spent time in jail for a felony. Blacks are on average about ten times more likely to be violent offenders than are whites.
  2. I argue that these statistics make it rational to be apprehensive about blacks. From a moral point of view it is permissible to seek to avoid them in many circumstances.
  3. The state is also entitled to use race-conscious screening of potential offenders. Arguments that this approach is "racist" are shown also to imply that affirmative action is "racist."



"Modood (Tariq) - 'Difference', Cultural Racism and Anti-Racism"

Source: Boxill - Race and Racism - Oxford Readings



"Outlaw (Lucius) - Toward a Critical Theory of 'Race'"

Source: Boxill - Race and Racism - Oxford Readings



"Piper (Adrian M.S.) - Two Kinds of Discrimination"

Source: Boxill - Race and Racism - Oxford Readings



"Thomas (Laurence) - Group Autonomy and Narrative Identity: Blacks and Jews"

Source: Boxill - Race and Racism - Oxford Readings


Author’s Abstract
  1. Any attempt to compare the suffering of blacks and Jews would seem likely to be felled by the waves of invidious comparisons.
  2. That is because any such comparison is likely to be seen, however obliquely, as an endeavor to answer the question: Which group has suffered more — blacks or Jews? And the feeling, of course, is that the suffering of both has been (and is) so heinous that to be concerned with answering that question is to embark upon a most despicable kind of moral enterprise.
  3. Be that as it may, there can be instructive comparisons regarding the suffering of Jews and blacks. I shall attempt such a comparison in this essay. At the very end of this essay, I shall speak to why it has seemed so natural to compare Jews and blacks.



"Thomas (Laurence) - Sexism and Racism: Some Conceptual Differences"

Source: Boxill - Race and Racism - Oxford Readings


Philosophers Index Abstract
  1. I argue that sexism and racism differ as follows:
    1. Sexism, unlike racism, readily lends itself to a morally unobjectionable description.
    2. The positive self-concept of men is more centrally tied to their being sexists than is the positive self-concept of whites to their being racists.
  2. A major premise in the argument is that the conception which men have of women is much more central to the conception which men have of themselves than is the case for whites with respect to blacks.
  3. The paper is not concerned with whether or not sexism or racism is more morally objectionable than the other.



"Van Den Berghe (Pierre L.) - Does Race Matter?"

Source: Boxill - Race and Racism - Oxford Readings



"Wasserstrom (Richard A.) - Racism and Sexism"

Source: Boxill - Race and Racism - Oxford Readings



"Wasserstrom (Richard A.) - Rights, Human Rights, and Racial Discrimination"

Source: Boxill - Race and Racism - Oxford Readings


Philosophers Index Abstract: Wasserstrom attempts to delineate schematically the form of one set of arguments for "natural or human rights" by
  1. Considering certain important and distinctive features and functions of rights in general,
  2. Describing and defining characteristics of human rights and certain specific functions and attributes they have,
  3. Delineating and evaluating one kind of argument for human rights as so described and defined, and
  4. Analyzing one particular case of a denial of human rights – that produced by the system of racial discrimination as it exists in the south today.



"Young (Iris Marion) - Social Movements and the Politics of Difference"

Source: Boxill - Race and Racism - Oxford Readings



"Zack (Naomi) - Race and Philosophic Meaning"

Source: Boxill - Race and Racism - Oxford Readings



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