What Is Race?

Without the presence of black people in America, European-Americans would not be "white"-- they would be Irish, Italians, Poles, Welsh, and other engaged in class, ethnic, and gender struggles over resources and identity.

- Cornell West, Race Matters

Podcast of the Day

Myisha Cherry chats with philosopher Larry Blum about teaching race, dealing with guilt and resentment in the classroom, teaching race in a Trump era, and much more.

Listen to Larry Blum on Race

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

Science is one of the most remarkable inventions of humankind. It has been a source of inspiration and understanding, lifted the veil of ignorance and superstition, been a catalyst for social change and economic growth, and saved countless lives.

Yet, history also shows us that its been a mixed blessing. Some discoveries have done far more harm than good. And there’s one mistake you will never read about in those internet lists of the all-time biggest blunders of science.

The worst error in the history of science was undoubtedly classifying humans into the different races...

Continue reading Darren Curnoe's article: The biggest mistake in the history of science

Further Reading

The concept of race has historically signified the division of humanity into a small number of groups based upon five criteria: (1) Races reflect some type of biological foundation, be it Aristotelian essences or modern genes; (2) This biological foundation generates discrete racial groupings, such that all and only all members of one race share a set of biological characteristics that are not shared by members of other races; (3) This biological foundation is inherited from generation to generation, allowing observers to identify an individual’s race through her ancestry or genealogy; (4) Genealogical investigation should identify each race’s geographic origin, typically in Africa, Europe, Asia, or North and South America; and (5) This inherited racial biological foundation manifests itself primarily in physical phenotypes, such as skin color, eye shape, hair texture, and bone structure, and perhaps also behavioral phenotypes, such as intelligence or delinquency.

This historical concept of race has faced substantial scientific and philosophical challenge, with some important thinkers denying both the logical coherence of the concept and the very existence of races. Others defend the concept of race, albeit with substantial changes to the foundations of racial identity, which they depict as either socially constructed or, if biologically grounded, neither discrete nor essentialist, as the historical concept would have it...

Continue reading the Sanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Race by Michael James

Related Topics

If you’re interested in the philosophy of race, check out some of the following related topics for more resources:

 Affirmative Action | Colonialism | Genetics | Sociology

Become a lifelong learner. Sign up via email to get the best videos, articles and podcasts on a new topic each day. Or you can follow on Twitter or Facebook.

Leave a Reply