Against Racial Monism

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Submission Summary
Recent work in the metaphysics of race that’s focused on the nature and reality of race as understood in the dominant race talk of current American English speakers—hereafter US race talk—has produced three main categories of race theories. Biological anti-realists—like Appiah (1992), Blum (2002), and Glasgow (2009)—have argued that, in US race talk, race is an unreal biological entity. Biological realists—like Outlaw (1996), Levin (2002), Spencer (2014), and Hardimon (2017)—have argued that, in US race talk, race is a real biological entity. NonBiological realists—like Haslanger (2012), Taylor (2013), and Ásta (2017)—have argued that, in US race talk, race is a real non-biological entity. However, after decades of arguing, metaphysicians of race haven’t yet developed a US race theory that’s close to being empirically adequate (in van Fraassen’s sense). While it’s admittedly very difficult for any theory to obtain empirical adequacy, the extent of the empirical inadequacies among the US race theories so far proposed suggests that there’s a systematic error in our metaphysical theorizing about race. That error, I submit, is the metametaphysical presupposition that there’s a single essence of race to be found in US race talk, which is a presupposition I’ll call essence monism about race. Essence monism about race is one example of racial monism. In contrast, I’ll argue that there’s a plurality of essences for race in US race talk, which is a view I’ll call essence pluralism about race. After defending my argument and addressing objections, I’ll explore interesting implications of the view, such as a novel perspective on how to address unjust racial disparities in health.
Submission ID :
PSA2022755
Submission Type
Submission Topic
Associate Professor
,
University of Pennsylvania
Columbia University

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