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Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 57 (2016) 60e68

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Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological andBiomedical Sciences

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Race: Deflate or pop?

Adam HochmanDepartment of Philosophy, Macquarie University, Building W6A, Room 733, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia

a r t i c l e i n f o

Article history:Received 19 November 2015Received in revised form22 February 2016Available online 7 April 2016

Keywords:RacePopulation geneticsForensic anthropologyHereditarianismRacial naturalismNeven Sesardic

E-mail address: [email protected]

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a b s t r a c t

Neven Sesardic has recently defended his arguments in favour of racial naturalismdthe view that race isa valid biological categorydin response to my criticism of his work. While Sesardic claims that a strongversion of racial naturalism can survive critique, he has in fact weakened his position considerably. Heconcedes that conventional racial taxonomy is arbitrary and he no longer identifies ‘races’ as humansubspecies. Sesardic now relies almost entirely on Theodosius Dobzhansky’s notion of race-as-population. This weak approach to ‘race’daccording to which all genetic difference between pop-ulations is ‘racial’ and ‘the races’ are simply the populations we choose to call racesdsurvived its earlycritiques. As it is being mobilised to support racial naturalism once more, we need to continue the debateabout whether we should weaken the concept of race to mean ‘population’, or abandon it as a failedbiological category. I argue that Sesardic’s case for racial naturalism is only supported by his continuedmischaracterisation of anti-realism about biological race and his appeal to Dobzhansky’s authority.Rather than deflating the meaning of ‘race’, it should be eliminated from our biological ontology.

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1. Introduction

Sesardic has offered one of the most forceful arguments forracial naturalismdthe view that race is a valid biological categor-ydin recent times (Sesardic, 2010). Its force derives not from itsoriginality but rather from its synthesis of various lines of argumentand evidence, including the statistical critiques of RichardLewontin’s (1972) The Apportionment of Human Diversity (Edwards,2003; Mitton, 1977), studies in forensic anthropology (Ousley,Jantz, & Freid, 2009; Sauer, 1992) and recent work in populationgenetics (Rosenberg et al., 2002). Nevertheless, Sesardic’s defenceof racial naturalism has attracted strong criticism. At least threearticles have been published responding exclusively to his 2010Race: A social destruction of a biological concept (Hochman, 2013b;Pigliucci, 2013; Taylor, 2011). Sesardic (2013) has replied to one ofthese articles, my Racial discrimination: How not to do it (Hochman,2013b). This paper continues the debate.

To contextualise Sesardic’s reply, note that philosophers of racehave recently argued that there is very little disagreement leftabout the facts relevant to the reality of biological race, and that it isunlikely that the debate will be resolved by the revelations of futurescience (Hochman, 2014; Kaplan & Winther, 2012, 2014; Mallon,2006; Winther & Kaplan, 2013). “We already know the facts”,claim Kenneth Weiss and Stephanie Fullerton in their Racing

Around, Getting Nowhere. “In that sense, the endless cycling couldstop, because we’re already there” (Weiss & Fullerton, 2005, p.168).If this is right it has important implications for the future of thisdebate. If we are in agreement about the science we will need toturn our attention to our actual points of disagreement, such assemantic disputes about the meaning of ‘race’ and normative dis-agreements about the value of racial classification.

Sesardic’s reply is significant because he argues that the debateabout the reality of race does turn on a substantive factualdisagreement between race naturalists and anti-realists about race(let us set aside social constructionism about race for the purposesof this paper).1 He believes that anti-realism entails the followingclaim, which he labels “(1)”: “Classifying people into commonsenseraces tells us absolutely nothing informative about biologicalcharacteristics of these people” (Sesardic, 2013, p. 287). If this iswhat anti-realism entails then this debate turns on an empiricaldisagreement, suggesting that our efforts to resolve the race debateshould be focussed on determining whether or not (1) is true.

The main thrust of my critique of Sesardic’s (2010) defence ofracial naturalism was that he oscillated between two versions ofracial naturalism: one strong but not supported by the science; oneso weak that it does not contrast with anti-realism about race(Hochman, 2013b). On the strong version of racial naturalism ‘race’

1 For an excellent, even-handed discussion of social constructionism about race,see Albert Atkin’s (2012) The Philosophy of Race.

A. Hochman / Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 57 (2016) 60e68 61

is a privileged, objective, scientific representation of human bio-logical diversity, and there are a handful of geographically definedraces representing the major biological subdivisions within ourspecies. On the weak version ‘race’ is correlated with various bio-logical traits, but racial classification is both superficial and arbi-trary, and there may be thousands of groups we could potentiallycall ‘races’. If Sesardic is right and anti-realism about race entails (1)then there is a substantive empirical disagreement between anti-realists and weak race naturalists, and I was mistaken to suggestotherwise.

Sesardic responds by initially claiming that “the “strong” inter-pretation of race is not undermined by Hochman’s arguments”(Sesardic, 2013, p. 287). However, everything that follows in hisreply indicates that he has abandoned strong racial naturalism infavour of the weak variety. If this is right, and I will provide textualevidence that it is, we can ignore Sesardic’s claim that strong racialnaturalism is defensible and focus on his claim that weak racialnaturalism does indeed contrast with anti-realism about biologicalrace because anti-realism entails (1). Recall that (1) is the view thathow people are racialised is uncorrelated with any of their bio-logical features (gene frequencies, skin colour, hair form, eye shape,etc.). If anti-realism entails this radical claim then even a very weakform of racial naturalism will contrast with anti-realism about race.

We need to know what race naturalists and anti-realists arecommitted to if we are to arbitrate between them. It will also beuseful to be clear about the status of the race concept in the sci-ences. Sesardic is right to observe that there has been an “effort tocreate the appearance of a scientific consensus through race-denigrating proclamations of experts, statements of learned soci-eties and popular science publications” (Sesardic, 2013, p. 288).There has never been a strong consensus against racial naturalism,which is still a common position among biologists and physicalanthropologists (Lieberman, Hampton, Littlefield, & Hallead, 1992;Morning, 2011). This debate, as Sesardic recognises, is far from over.

Curiously, though, Sesardic adds to this illusory consensus byclaiming that the 1950 UNESCO Statement on Race was anti-realist,which is false.2 The 1950 and 1951 UNESCO statements both sup-ported racial naturalism. Yet they are commonly understood asmarking a turn to anti-realism about race, or even as promotinganti-realism (Baker & Patterson,1994, p. 341; Barkan,1992; Skinner,2006). This may be because the statements were anti-racist (andracism was understood to be part and parcel of ‘race’) or becausethe populationist definition of race that they promoted was, formany, so deflated that it was no longer recognisably racial(Hochman, 2015). “The second UNESCO statement on race deniedthe validity of race as a biological category”, claim Baker and Pat-terson, in error, “and focused instead on the concept of a popula-tion” (Baker & Patterson, 1994, p. 3). Rather than claiming that thepopulation concept superseded the idea of ‘race’, the statementsactually claimed that ‘races’ are populations.

This is the position Sesardic now defends. He no longer arguesthat there are human subspecies (see Sesardic, 2010). It is byappealing to Dobzhansky’s (1944) definition of ‘races’ as geneticallyidentifiable populations that he defends his view. What Sesardic

2 Sesardic reads the Statement as claiming that “For all practical purposes ‘race’ isnot so much a biological phenomenon as a social myth” (Sesardic, 2013, p. 288).However, this is not only a quotation out of context, but a misquotation. TheStatement actually claims that, “The biological fact of race and the myth of “race”should be distinguished. For all practical social purposes “race” is not so much abiological phenomenon as a social myth” (UNESCO., 1952, p. 101). There is a worldof difference between the misquotation and the actual text. The claim that race is anillusion for all practical purposes would be anti-realist. The claim that race is bio-logically real but does not explain social reality is simply a form of non-hereditarianracial naturalism.

does not seem to appreciate is that this definition was, and con-tinues to be, controversial (Gannett, 2013; Livingstone, 1962;Millstein, 2015; Reardon, 2005). He does not engage seriouslywith one of my central argumentsdthat race-as-population trivi-alises the concept of racedand falsely assumes that racial natu-ralism has always been a trivial, and trivially true, position.

I show that Sesardic fails to identify a substantive factual disputebetween anti-realists and race naturalists (except on issues sur-rounding hereditarianism). His case for racial naturalism is onlysupported by his appeal to Dobzhansky’s authority and hiscontinued mischaracterisation of anti-realists about race. By takingquotes out of context, Sesardic makes it appear that anti-realistsdefend (1), which is not true. He also accuses anti-realists ofobscuring the truth for political reasons when they actually offerdefensible, empirically grounded arguments for their anti-realismabout race.

Sesardic has argued for racial naturalism on the basis of evi-dence from population genetics and forensic anthropology. In thefollowing section I show that Sesardic continues to misunderstandthe forensic anthropological arguments presented against race assupporting racial naturalism, and I attempt to explain thesepersistent misinterpretations. In Section 3 I demonstrate that noneof the theorists Sesardic quotes and cites as endorsing (1)dtheview that racial classification is uncorrelated with any biologicalfeaturedactually defend this position. His disagreement is with astraw-man of his own making. In Section 4 I argue that Sesardicfails to defend the populationist definition of race against my earliercriticisms. Section 5 deals with Sesardic’s attempt to connect racialnaturalism and hereditarianism. In Section 6 I draw the conclusionthat ‘race’ should not be deflated to mean ‘population’, it should berejected as a failed scientific theory.

2. Forensic anthropology and ‘race’

While 21st century genetic clustering studies breathed new lifeinto the biological race debate, Sesardic draws not only on geneticbut also on morphological evidence to support racial naturalism.This section focuses on the morphological side of Sesardic’sargument.

Both Massimo Pigliucci and I have pointed out that Sesardiccited forensic anthropology articles arguing against the racialclassification of skulls as evidence for the racial classification ofskulls (Hochman, 2013b; Pigliucci, 2013). Sesardic writes that

forensic anthropologists are quite successful in correctly infer-ring a person’s race from the skeletal characteristics of humanremains . This prompted one bewildered and exasperatedscientist to write an article with a provocative title: “If Races DoNot Exist, Why Are Forensic Anthropologists So Good at Iden-tifying Them?” (Sauer, 1992) (Sesardic, 2010, pp. 155e156).

However, Norman Sauer does not argue for racial naturalism inthe cited article. Rather, he shows how anti-realism about biologicalrace is consistent with the fact that forensic anthropologists areable to sort skulls into conventional ‘racial’ categories. “It is main-tained in this paper”, explains Sauer, “that the successful assign-ment of race to a skeletal specimen is not a vindication of the raceconcept, but rather a prediction that an individual, while alive wasassigned to a particular socially constructed ‘racial’ category”(Sauer, 1992, p. 107). Sauer is not the “bewildered and exasperated”race naturalist Sesardic paints him to be.

In response to my criticism of his misrepresentation of Sauer’swork, Sesardic maintains that “the main thrust of Sauer’s antipathytoward the concept of race does not come from his scientificexpertise but from rather irrelevant considerations that can be

A. Hochman / Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 57 (2016) 60e6862

legitimately ignored” as “what mainly bothers Sauer is ideologicalconnotations of the word “race”” (Sesardic, 2013, p. 289). Sesardictakes this reading from the following passage in Sauer’s article:

That forensic anthropologists place our field’s stamp of approvalon the traditional and unscientific concept of race each time wemake such a judgement is a problem for which I see no easysolution. Perhaps we could avoid the term “race” in our com-munications about cases, substituting ‘ancestry’ or some otherword that has less baggage than race. Perhaps we could be moreexplicit about the social or cultural concepts of race. Certainlywe can teach the nonexistence of race in the classroom and doour best to clarify the use of races in forensic anthropology. Atleast, however, let us not fall into the trap of accepting races asvalid biologically discrete categories because we use them sooften. (Sauer, 1992, p. 110)

To which Sesardic responds,

This is a typical, purely verbal maneuver that we so often find indiscussions about race. Notice that Sauer actually proposes thatthe non-existence of race be taught in the classroom and that atthe same time the use of race in forensic anthropology be clar-ified, not abandoned. The message seems to be: deny the exis-tence of the category but continue using it! (Sesardic, 2013, p.289)

This is indeed Sauer’s message, but Sesardic has somehowmissed his entire supporting argument. Yes, Sauer argues for theuse of conventional racial categories in forensic anthropology, butthat is only because those are the folk categories we use to describeour missing persons, not because ‘race’ is a valid biological category.As Sauer explains, “since the goal in forensic identification cases isto find agreement between the biological profile generated from askeleton to a missing person report, it only makes sense to use theemic [folk] categories that are likely to have been used to describethe missing person” (Sauer, 1992, pp.109e110). Sauer’s point is thatforensic anthropologists’ use of emic or folk racial categories doesnot commit them to a belief in race as a valid etic or scientificconcept.

Sauer argues that “to identify a person as having ancestors from,say, Northern Europe does not identify a biological race of NorthernEuropeans” (Sauer, 1992, p. 110). Conventional ‘racial’ taxonomy is,for Sauer, just one way of classifying populations, and it is notscientifically privileged over other potential taxonomies. StephenOusley, Richard Jantz, and Donna Freid (2009) have offeredempirical support for Sauer’s argument. They show that while it isindeed possible to sort skulls into conventional racial categorieswith high accuracy this does not vindicate racial naturalismbecause if all that is needed to demonstrate racial status is toaccurately sort between groups of skulls then there are “so manypossible distinctive biological races that the concept is virtuallymeaningless” (Ousley et al., 2009, p. 74). As both Pigliucci and Ipoint out, Sesardic (2010) cited Ousley, Jantz, and Freid’s study insupport of racial naturalism, but like Sauer the authors actuallyargued for anti-realism about race (Hochman, 2013b; Pigliucci,2013). Sesardic (2013) does not comment on his interpretation ofthis study.

For almost all of human history we have mated with those bornrelatively nearbydwe had no other choice. Couple this kind ofassortative mating with local adaptations, mutations and drift, andbiological diversity will have a geographical structure. Almost anygeographically based classification system will latch on to humanbiological diversity to some extent (Ousley et al., 2009). Ousley,

Jantz and Freid were able to sort between Nagasaki and Tohokumales and also Arikara and Sioux females with even higher accu-racy than between American black males, Japanese males, NativeAmerican males, and American white males. This ability to makefine-grained differentiations suggests that forensic anthropologistscould divide the world population into five, fifty, 500, perhaps even5000 geographical groupings, anddwith good enough data-daccurately sort between their skulls. We should not thereforeassume that when forensic anthropologists use any particulartaxonomy that it represents some deep structure of human di-versity, branches on our evolutionary ‘tree’, or a scientificallyprivileged way of subdividing our species.

Ousley, Jantz and Freid argue that a racial interpretation offorensic anthropology is due to confirmation bias. Sesardic (2010)certainly only considered the data that seemed to support a racialreading of skull classification. But confirmation bias may only bepart of the reason for Sesardic’s racial interpretation of forensicanthropological research. He worries about the role political cor-rectness plays in this debate. While he doesn’t use this phrase,Sesardic is concerned about what has been called the politicalcorrectness fallacy. One commits this fallacy when one gives morecredence to a theory because it is politically correct. It seems,however, that Sesardic commits what we might call the politicalincorrectness fallacy. He gives less credence to theories that aredeemed politically correct. Anti-realism about biological race maybe the more politically correct position, but that has no bearing onwhether or not it is true. Sesardic seems so convinced that the ar-guments against racial naturalism from forensic anthropology areideological that he is unable to see the logicdand indeed theforcedof those arguments.

3. What do anti-realists about race really believe?

We need to form a clear picture of what realists and anti-realistsabout race believedand whydso that we can identify where thedisagreement lies and what it would take to resolve it. Ron Mallonhas argued that “Skeptics, constructionists, and naturalists share abroad base of agreement regarding the metaphysical facts sur-rounding racial or racialized phenomena” (Mallon, 2006, p. 527). Ifthis is right the debate between race naturalists and anti-realiststurns on semantic and normative factors, rather than on dis-agreements about the science.

Against this understanding of the state of the debate, Sesardicargues that the dispute turns on a factual disagreement about hu-man biological diversity. He claims that anti-realists (or sceptics)believe (1): that ‘race’ is uncorrelated with any biological featurewhatsoever. If Sesardic is right, and if all that stops anti-realistsfrom becoming race naturalists is their mistaken belief in (1), thedebate could be easily solved. All race naturalists would need to dois to show that (1) is false.

Do anti-realists about race really believe (1)? Sesardic arguesthat they do:

Consider typical statements made repeatedly by leading racialconstructionists that race is biologically “meaningless” (AAA,1994 [sic]; Fish, 2002, p.138; Gould,1996, p. 379; Marshall,1998,p. 654; Rose, 2002; Schwartz, 2001), that “race as biology isfiction” (Smedley & Smedley, 2005), that “race is the phlogistonof our time” (Montagu, 1964, p. xii; similarly Hirschfeld, 1998, p.36), that “race” is a concept like unicorn (Fish, 2002, p. 138), that“the reality of human races is [.] destined to follow the flatEarth into oblivion” (Diamond,1994; a similar claim is also madeby physical anthropologist A. Goodman in the 2003 PBSeducational documentary “Race: The Power of an Illusion”), etc.

A. Hochman / Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 57 (2016) 60e68 63

How is the ordinary reader expected to interpret these state-ments? As accepting (1)? Or as denying it? Or as being agnosticabout it? I think it is quite obvious that most people would takethese statements as implying (1). (Sesardic, 2013, p. 287)

Under pressure from me that anti-realists don’t actually believe (1),Sesardic concedes that

maybe when these people said that race is biologically mean-ingless they didn’t mean it literally! Maybe. Nevertheless, theymust have been well aware that, given the way they chose toexpress themselves, the public was bound to take them to meansomething like (1) . Be that as it may, we should be able toagree about this: if many a public statement by racial con-structionists looks like (1) and quacks like (1), we may not knowfor certain that it “really” means (1), but it certainly deserves tobe treated as expressing (1). And discussed accordingly.(Sesardic, 2013, p. 288)

Who the “ordinary reader” is supposed to be is unclear. Nor isthe criteria for what makes a statement “public” obvious. The citedstatements are public in the sense that they are accessible to thepublic, but many of them were surely written with a specialistaudience in mind, as they are published in academic journalsincluding American Psychologist, Science, and The New EnglandJournal of Medicine. We cannot know how the “ordinary reader”would understand these works unless we know how to identify herand actually ask her, so let us focus on what the cited texts actuallyclaim about human biological diversity.

Before turning to the statements that supposedly imply (1), letus consider briefly what an implausible position it is. Consider, forinstance, the distribution of skin colour. Skin colour differences aresmoothly distributed across geographic space (Barsh, 2003).However, it is a plain and obvious fact that skin colour is at leastcorrelated with conventional ‘racial’ categories. People racialised as‘black’ are darker on average than people racialised as ‘white’, eventhough many individuals racialised as ‘black’ are lighter skinnedthan individual ‘whites’. Nobody disputes this. If (1) were true thenpeople racialised as ‘black’ would not be darker on average thanpeople racialised as ‘white’. Skin colour would be distributedrandomly, or we would all have the same skin colour. That is onereason why (1) is utterly implausible and why nobody who un-derstood what it actually entailed would believe that it were true.

3 As Naomi Zack (2001) has observed, the Statement even makes a factual errorin favour or racial naturalism. It claims that conventional ‘races’ differ from oneanother in about 6% of their genes, when it should claim that ‘races’ differ in about6% of the overall human genetic variation. We are all 99.5% genetically identical,according to recent estimates, so the authors of the AAA Statement claim thathuman diversity is twelve times greater than it actually is (Levy et al., 2007).

3.1. ‘Race’ and the meaning of meaninglessness

Let us turn now to the statements that supposedly support (1).In this section I focus on the claim that race is ‘biologically mean-ingless’, which Sesardic believes implies (1). Sesardic attributes thisclaim to the AAA (1999), Jefferson Fish (2002, p. 138), Stephen JayGould (1996, p. 379), Eliot Marshall (1998, p. 654), Steven Rose(2002) and Robert Schwartz (2001). I will consider the cited textsin turn.

The phrase ‘biologically meaningless’ does not appear in the AAAStatement on Race, so it is unclear why it is included in Sesardic’s listof citations. Here is an extract from the statement:

Evidence from the analysis of genetics (eg, DNA) indicates thatthere is greater variation within racial groups than betweenthem. This means that most physical variation, about 94%, lieswithin so-called racial groups. Conventional geographic “racial”groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of theirgenes. In neighboring populations there is much overlapping ofgenes and their phenotypic (physical) expressions. Throughout

history whenever different groups have come into contact, theyhave interbred. The continued sharing of genetic materials hasmaintained all of humankind as a single species.

Physical variations in any given trait tend to occur graduallyrather than abruptly over geographic areas. And because phys-ical traits are inherited independently of one another, knowingthe range of one trait does not predict the presence of others. Forexample, skin color varies largely from light in the temperateareas in the north to dark in the tropical areas in the south; itsintensity is not related to nose shape or hair texture. (AAA.,1999,p. 712)

The AAA Statement does not support (1) as it accepts that thereis a correlation between genetic and phenotypic traits and con-ventional ‘racial’ taxonomy.3

Let’s move to the next citation, Fish’s The Myth of Race (Fish,2002). Unlike the AAA Statement, Fish does indeed claim thatrace is “biologically meaningless” (2002, p. 138). Does he mean (1),as Sesardic suggests? There is one passage which supports thisreading: “The fact that Americans believe that Asians, blacks, His-panics, and whites constitute biological entities called races is amatter of cultural interest rather than scientific substance. It ismisinformation that tells us something about American culture, butnothing about the human species” (Fish, 2002, p. 114). Thisparticular passage does suggest (1), but this moment of exaggera-tion runs counter to the rest of the chapter. For instance Fish writesthat, “Our species evolved in Africa from earlier forms and even-tually spread out around the planet. Over time, human populationsthat were geographically separated from one another came to differin physical appearance” (Fish, 2002, p. 115). Fish accepts that thereis geographically structured biological variation in our species,which is inconsistent with (1).

What Fish really argues is not (1), but rather that conventionalracial categories are poor representations of our biodiversity. Forinstance he discusses how the idea of a ‘black African race’ obscuresour understanding of physical variations of the human form.“Because the human species spent most of its existence in Africa,different populations in Africa have been separated from each otherlonger than east Asians or northern Europeans have been separatedfrom each other or from Africans. As a result, there is remarkablephysical variation among the indigenous peoples of Africa that goesunrecognized by Americans, who view them all as belonging to thesame race” (Fish, 2002, p.117). When we engage with the content ofFish’s chapter, rather than with an ambiguous statement removedfrom its context, it is clear that he does not endorse (1).

The next citation is Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man. Gould doesindeed write about such “biologically meaningless categories aswhite and black” (Gould,1996, p. 379). Does he endorse (1)? Clearlynot:

. our own species, Homo sapiens, might have included a set ofsubspecies (races) with meaningfully different genetic capacities.If our species were millions of years old (many are), and if its raceshad been geographically separated for most of this time withoutsignificant genetic interchange, then large genetic differencesmight have slowly accumulated between groups. But Homo sa-piens is, at most, a few hundred thousand years old, and all

A. Hochman / Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 57 (2016) 60e6864

modern human races probably split from a common ancestralstock only about a hundred thousand years ago. A fewoutstanding traits of external appearance lead to our subjectivejudgment of important differences. But biologists have recentlyaffirmeddas long suspecteddthat the overall genetic differencesamong human races are astonishingly small. (Gould,1996, p. 353)

If (1) were true, then rather than there being “astonishingly small”genetic differences between racialised groups, there would be nodifferences at all.

Sesardic cites Marshall (1998) as another author who has statedthat race is biologically meaningless:

“Ridiculous” is the word cultural anthropologist John Moore ofthe University of Florida, Gainesville, uses to describe such racialtyping. This view is based on a growing body of data that in-dicates, as Moore says, that “there aren’t any boundaries be-tween races.” Geneticist Kenneth Kidd of Yale University saysthe DNA samples he’s examined show that there is “a virtualcontinuum of genetic variation” around the world. “There’s noplace where you can draw a line and say there’s a major dif-ference on one side of the line from what’s on the other side.” Ifone is talking about a distinct, discrete, identifiable population,Kidd adds, “there’s no such thing as race in [modern] Homosapiens.” (Marshall, 1998, p. 654)

Once again, Sesardic wrongly attributes (1) to an author. Marshallaccepts that there is a virtual continuum of genetic variationaround the world. Because groups are racialised according togeographic origin they will have some differences in gene fre-quencies, so (1) will be false even if racial typing is superficial,largely arbitrary, and indeed “ridiculous”.

The next in line is an article in the Independent written by Rose.“Biologists define “race””, claims Rose,

as a group or population differing in gene frequency from that ofothers in the same species. Such differences usually occur as aresult of some type of geographic barrier limiting interbreeding,so that the two otherwise similar genetic populations begin todrift apart.

Thus there are distinct “races” of fruit flies e separated perhapsby mountainous or desert conditions. However, with verylimited exceptions there are no such separated groups withinthe human population, and those that do occur do not map on towhat are in conventional speech regarded as separate “races”.

The consensus view among population geneticists and biolog-ical anthropologists is that the concept of “race” to indicateanalytically distinct subgroups of the human race is biologicallymeaningless. (Rose, 2002)

Rose believes ‘race’ is biologically meaningless if it is used to mean“analytically distinct subgroups”. He does not endorse (1). He ar-gues that there has been too much mating between conventional‘racial’ groups to justify calling them races, not that mating hasbeen random. Rose actually claims that there are human races, butthat they do not map on to conventional racial categories.

The last citation of a ‘public statement’ claiming that race isbiologically meaningless is Schwartz’s (2001) article in the NewEngland Journal of Medicine. In response to Sesardic’s (2010) treat-ment of Schwartz as endorsing (1) I showed that Sesardic wasmisinterpreting him. I won’t go over the details (see Hochman,2013b, p. 284). What is interesting is that Sesardic uses this cita-tion again after being shown that he is misrepresenting the views of

its author. It must be the invocation of the ‘ordinary reader’ that issupposed to justify the repeated citation of Schwartz as endorsing(1).

Before moving on let us look at one more citation. Sesardicquotes Audrey and Brian Smedley claiming, from the title of theirarticle, that “Race as Biology is Fiction” (Smedley & Smedley, 2005).Do they endorse (1), as Sesardic suggests? Again, the answer isclearly negative. They argue that “racialized science is based on animprecise and distorted understanding of human differences”, notthat there are no human biological differences that correlate with‘race’ (Smedley & Smedley, 2005, p. 22). We can add another coupleof straw-people to the growing list.

For Sesardic the authors discussed above are contradictingthemselves when they write that race is ‘biologically meaningless’and proceed to discuss statistical genetic and phenotypic differ-ences between racialised groups. However, I have suggested thatthe phrase ‘biologically meaningless’ could be understood in twoways: as endorsing (1), or as the less radical claim that ‘race’ is not avalid biological category (Hochman, 2013a, 2013b). Sesardic re-sponds to this suggestion as follows:

Saying that race is biologically meaningless means much morethan merely that race “fails to capture the most basic features ofhuman biological diversity”. It entails that race is not relevant atall, i.e. it entails not merely that race doesn’t capture the mostbasic features of human biological diversity, but that it capturesno biological features whatsoever. For if it did, it couldn’t bebiologically meaningless. (Sesardic, 2013, p. 288)

The problem is that this interpretation of the phrase is at oddswith what anti-realists actually mean when they write that race isbiologically meaningless. I agree with Sesardic that this ambiguousphrase should be dropped, but I disagree that it necessarilyamounts to (1). When we read the phrase in context it is clear thatthe authors do not endorse (1). Rather than demonstrating that“Hochman’s “straw man” comes to life” in the form of anti-realistswho indeed defend (1), Sesardic continues to misrepresent anti-realists about race (Sesardic, 2013, p. 288). This is a problem forSesardic as he wants (1) as a view with which to contrast his weakpopulationist version of racial naturalism. And it is more broadly aproblem for the view that races are genetic populations, becausethat view does not contrast properly with the anti-realist position.

3.2. What do ‘race’, ‘unicorn’, ‘flat earth’ and ‘phlogiston’ have incommon?

None of the authors cited as claiming that race is ‘biologicallymeaningless’ defend (1). However, Sesardic also cites a number ofauthors comparing ‘race’ to phlogiston, to unicorns, and to flatearth. “How is the ordinary reader expected to interpret thesestatements?” asks Sesardic:

As accepting (1)? Or as denying it? Or as being agnostic about it?I think it is quite obvious that most people would take thesestatements as implying (1). The ideas of phlogiston, unicorn andflat earth were rejected because they had no correspondencewith reality whatsoever. In equating race with phlogiston, uni-corn and flat earth, it is hard to see how Diamond, Goodman,Fish and Montagu could have intended to communicate to theirreaders anything less than (1). And yet (1) is the view that, ac-cording to Hochman, no one defends. (Sesardic, 2013, p. 287)

How does ‘race’ compare to these discarded ideas? Do such com-parisons really imply (1)?

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Let us begin with phlogiston. Phlogiston theory is traditionallyregarded as non-referring. After all, phlogiston was supposed to bethe material released by combustion, and there is no such material.Yet not everyone believes that phlogiston, or at least phlogistontheory, had “no correspondence with reality whatsoever”. Whilethere is no phlogiston, phlogiston theory was quite successful. Itcaptured many empirical regularities, regularities retained in cur-rent chemistry. Phlogiston theorists knew that combustion, calci-fication and respiration are the same sort of reaction (what weknow today to be oxidation). They also knew that animals andplants have opposite effects on air (animals ‘phlogisticating’ the airand plants ‘dephlogisticating’ it). Moreover, phlogiston theoristsmade novel predictions. For example, the identification of inflam-mable air (hydrogen) with phlogiston led Priestly to predict thepossibility of inverting the process of calcination. He heated metalcalxes in inflammable air, and reconverted the calxes into metals asthe inflammable air was absorbed. In other words, he performedwhat chemists now recognise as reduction. Phlogiston theoristsunderstood that ‘dephlogistication’ (oxidation) and ‘phlogistica-tion’ (reduction) are inverse chemical reactions.

Nothing directly corresponds to phlogiston in modern chemis-try, but there is an indirect correspondence relation betweenphlogiston theory and modern chemistry:

Dephlogistication of X corresponds to (and hence indirectlyrefers to) the donation of electrons of X-atoms to their bondingpartner in the formation of a polarized or ionic chemical bond.

Phlogistication of X corresponds to (and hence indirectly refersto) the acceptance of electrons by positively charged X-ionsfrom their bonding partner in the breaking of a polarized orionic chemical bond. (Schurz, 2009, p. 109)

I will not go into the chemistry behind this (see Schurz, 2009). What Iwant to point out is that while oxygen theory heralded a change inontology from phlogiston theory, much of the underlying theoreticalstructure remained. Comparing race theory to phlogiston theory is acompliment to race theory! They are similar in the sense that neitherphlogiston nor race is real, but they are dissimilar in the sense thatracial theory cannot match the success of phlogiston theory. Peoplehave known that the human form varies along geographical spacesince antiquity. What were the empirical successes of race theory?What were its novel predictions?

Let us move on now to the mythic beast, the unicorn. Fish writesthat ‘race’ is “a cultural concept, like ghost or unicorn” (2002).Sesardic claims that by equating ‘race’ with ‘unicorn’ Fish (2002)wanted to convey that conventional racial classification tells usabsolutely nothing informative about the biological characteristicsof the people being classified. But, as we saw in the previous sec-tion, Fish does not endorse (1). After discussing a number of racialclassification schemes from around the world, and then claimingthat ‘race’ is a concept like ‘unicorn’, Fish clarifies this remark byexplaining that, “More specifically, the American concept of racedoes not correspond to the ways in which human physicalappearance varies . None of these folk taxonomies corresponds tothe biological facts of human physical variation. This is why race is amyth and why races as conceived by Americans (and others) do notexist” (Fish, 2002, p. 138). Fish is making an analogy between themyth of biological race and the myth of unicorns. Like all analogies,it is imperfect. If it were not imperfect it would not be an analogy.Fish’s argument is that the various taxonomies of race do notcorrespond to the “biological facts of human physical variation”, notthat there are no such facts, or that racial taxonomies offer zeroinferential power. When we read Fish’s comparison in context it isclear he does not endorse (1).

What about the third example, flat earth? Jarred Diamond andAlan Goodman compare ‘race’ to the idea of flat earth, which Ses-ardic believes implies (1). As Diamond writes,

Science often violates simple common sense. Our eyes tell us thatthe Earth is flat, that the sun revolves around the Earth, and thatwe humans are not animals. But we now ignore that evidence ofour senses. We have learned that our planet is in fact round andrevolves around the sun, and that humans are slightly modifiedchimpanzees. The reality of human races is another common-sense “truth” destined to follow the flat Earth into oblivion.

The commonsense view of races goes somewhat as follows. Allnative Swedes differ from all native Nigerians in appearance:there is no Swede whom you would mistake for a Nigerian, andvice versa. Swedes have lighter skin than Nigerians do. They alsogenerally have blond or light brown hair, while Nigerians havevery dark hair. Nigerians usually have more tightly coiled hairthan Swedes do, dark eyes as opposed to eyes that are blue or gray,and fuller lips and broader noses. (Diamond, 1994, pp. 83e84)

Diamond of course goes on to question conventional racial taxon-omy, but he cannot endorse (1) because he accepts that how peopleare racialised correlates with traits such as hair colour and shape,skin colour, eye colour, lip fullness, and nose width.

Goodman also uses the flat earth analogy to show that anti-realism about race requires a shift in perspective, rather than toendorse (1). “Human biological variation is so complex”, he says onPBS’s RACE e The Power of an Illusion. “There are so many aspects ofhuman variation. So there are many, many ways to begin to explainthem”. Yet he maintains that “There is no way to measure race. Wesometimes do it by skin colour, other people may do it by hairtexturedother people may have the dividing lines different interms of skin colour. What is black in the United States is not what’sblack in Brazil or what’s black in South Africa”. ‘Race’ has a corre-spondence to perceived reality for many of us, just like the idea offlat earth corresponds to our perception of the earth from down onthe ground. Comparing ‘race’ to ‘flat earth’ is a way to demonstratehow science can challenge ordinary perception. The comparison isnot meant to suggest (1), it is meant to be an aid to learning.

For Sesardic comparing ‘race’ to phlogiston theory, belief inunicorns, and the idea of a flat earth implies that it has “no corre-spondence with reality whatsoever” (Sesardic, 2013, 287). This ismisleading. Scientists do not only reject theories that tell us“absolutely nothing informative” about reality, they also rejecttheories that are minimally informative and misleading, like racetheory. Like those who argue that race is ‘biologically meaningless’,those who draw analogies between ‘race’, phlogiston, unicorns, andflat earth do not endorse (1). Sesardic again fails to show that thereis a factual disagreement about human biological diversity betweenrace naturalists and anti-realists.

4. The deflation of the meaning of ‘race’

I have argued that weak racial naturalism is too weak to reviverace as a valid biological category because it does not contrast withwhat anti-realists believe about human biological diversity(Hochman, 2013b). Sesardic disagrees because he believes thatanti-realists endorse (1). If this were true there would be a genuineempirical disagreement between naturalists and anti-realists aboutrace. But it is not true, and Sesardic does not seem to disagree withmy reading of the science. We are left without a substantivedisagreement about the facts of human biological diversity. Achange in focus is needed. We need to move from illusory empirical

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disagreements to the semantic and normative disagreements thatare really driving this debate (Ludwig, 2015).

Perhaps because Sesardic relies on (1) as a position with whichto contrast his version of racial naturalism, he does not build a casefor his preferred definition of race. He appeals to Dobzhansky’sdefinition of race-as-population as hegemonic. For Dobzhansky(1962) every populationdevery genetically identifiable groupdisracially distinct, and the races are the populations we choose toracialise. While this weak form of racial naturalism became popularin the mid-20th century, it has always been controversial. As FrankLivingstone wrote in his debate with Dobzhansky,

In applying the theory of population genetics to humanity, thespecies is divided into breeding populations although for anyarea or group of people this concept may be difficult to apply. Itis likely that each breeding population will prove to be geneti-cally unique, so that all will be racially distinct in Dobzhansky’sterms. But this is not the general use of the concept of race inbiology, and the concept has not in the past been associatedwith this theory of human diversity. (Livingstone, 1962, p. 281)

Sesardic accepts Dobzhansky’s approach, but he fails to defend itagainst my criticismsdfollowing Livingstone and othersdthat ittrivialises the concept of race, that it is too weak a view to reviveracial naturalism, and that it in fact changes the topic from ‘race’ to‘population’.

In his response to me, Sesardic no longer discusses the clustersfound in the Rosenberg et al. (2002) study as in any way privileged,as he did in his 2010 article, and he no longer identifies ‘races’ ashuman subspecies. For Sesardic, races are those genetically (orphenotypically) identifiable populations we choose to call races:

Race naturalists do not have to believe (and usually do notbelieve) that races are clearly delineated groups, easily distin-guishable from one another, readily countable, effortlesslyapplicable to almost anyone, marked by a recognizable geneticsignature, etc. One can be a race naturalist without subscribingto any of these views. Moreover, one can be a race naturalisteven if one concedes that race is a crude, course-grained andimperfect category. (Sesardic, 2013, p. 290)

In effect, he is claiming that racial naturalism is trivially true, andthat everyone can be a race naturalist. Everyone except those whobelieve (1), that is. But who are these scholars? Do they really exist?As I have argued in the last two sections, Sesardic fails to show thatanyone actually believes (1).

Sesardic now adheres to a weak version of racial natural-ismdthe view that race is real in the sense that racial labelscorrelate with various biological traits, but that race is superficialand arbitrary. Sesardic even claims that “In principle we mightintroduce names for hundreds or even thousands of human groupsthat we could call races on the grounds of their genetic differenti-ation” (Sesardic, 2013, p. 290). For Sesardic, “if the impossibility ofunequivocal race counting undermines the concept of race, asimilar argument could then be made against the concept of speciesas well” (Sesardic, 2013, p. 290). Yet for many an anti-realist aboutrace the inability of race naturalists to justify a roughly continent-based racial taxonomy over one that consists of “hundreds oreven thousands” of races is indeed a problem. We should expectthat if ‘race’ were a scientific category the numbering of the raceswould not be quite so arbitrary. This is not an issue of unequivocal‘race’ counting. We can of course expect borderline cases in tax-onomy. When it comes to ‘race’, however, this issue is of such greatmagnitude that the category itself must be thrown into question. Ifthere is no principled reason to prefer a racial taxonomy of five to a

racial taxonomy of 5000das Sesardic acceptsdracial naturalism isin trouble.

‘Race’ was meant to describe the major subdivisions and line-ages within our species. However, there are no such subdivisionsbecause human biological diversity and population structure isprimarily smooth or clinal in its distribution, and reconstructions ofhuman evolutionary history do not fit a tree-like branching struc-ture, indicative of major human lineages (Handley, Manica, Goudet,& Balloux, 2007; Serre & Pääbo, 2004; Templeton, 2013). Because ofthis clinal distribution of traits, and because there are manytraitsdwhich are discordant with each otherdthat can be used inattempts to subdivide our species, racial classification cannot ‘carvenature at its joints’. As Ashley Montagu put it, particularly well,“The process of averaging the characters of a given group, knockingthe individuals together, giving them a good stirring, and thenserving the resulting omelette as a “race” is essentially theanthropological process of race-making. It may be good cooking butit is not science, since it serves to confuse rather than to clarify”(Montagu,1941, p. 245). We should not make an omelette of humanbiological diversity, but describe “the character of the variability ofthe elements comprising it” (Montagu, 1941, p. 245). There are noraces, there are only largely discordant clines of the various char-acteristics that comprise human biological diversity.

Sesardic is willing to eat this “indigestible dish conjured intobeing by an anthropological chef” (Montagu, 1941, p. 245). Hemaintains that “racial naturalism does not entail that there must bea clear and precise answer to the question about the exact numberof human races. After all, as far as I know, no racial naturalist hasever defended this kind of answer in the literature” (Sesardic, 2013,p. 290). However, the practice of offering a race list was standard atleast until Darwin. According to Darwin, “Man has been studiedmore carefully than any other animal, and yet there is the greatestpossible diversity amongst capable judges whether he should beclassed as a single species or race, or as two (Virey), as three (Jac-quinot), as four (Kant), five (Blumenbach), six (Buffon), seven(Hunter), eight (Agassiz), eleven (Pickering), fifteen (Bory de St-Vincent), sixteen (Desmoulins), twenty-two (Morton), sixty(Crawfurd), or as sixty-three, according to Burke” (Darwin,1871, pp.232e233). By the mid-20th century authors such as Stanley Garnand Carleton Coon were arguing that “no major discrepancy existsbetween one taxonomic system listing only six human races and asecond system enumerating thirty” (Garn & Coon, 1955, p. 1000).However, they go on to clarify that “geographical races are to a largeextent collections of convenience, useful more for pedagogic pur-poses than as units for empirical investigation” (Garn & Coon, 1955,p. 1000). They do not explain, however, what the pedagogic valuemight be of teaching students about these “collections of conve-nience” that are not appropriate “units for empirical investigation”.

Population naturalism about race faces both normative and se-mantic challenges. Population naturalists need to give some ac-count of the value of racial classification given that ““major” racescannot be rigorously distinguished from other groups, as they don’thave a qualitatively different status from other possible groupings”(Sesardic, 2013, p. 290). If this is indeed the case, and conventionalracial classification is a mere ‘convenience’, then we must askwhom it is convenient for and why.

Turning to semantics, population naturalism about race requiresa radical meaning change. For population naturalists ‘race’ is a su-perficial and arbitrary category and unlike the subspecies categoryit does not describe major biological divisions or evolutionary lin-eages. Population naturalism trivialises ‘race’ and conflates it with‘population’. If a population is any genetically identifiable group,and a race is any population we choose to call a race, then it is trivialto say that there are human races. It also changes the topic from‘race’ to ‘population’. As Jonathan Kaplan and Rasmus Winther

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observe, “no one has ever seriously suggested that there is nopopulation structure at all in humans, or that all (genetic) traitsvary strictly independently from each other across our species”(Kaplan & Winther, 2012, p. 411). Population naturalism about racecannot be contrasted with (1) because (1) is a view without ad-herents. Population naturalists such as Sesardic need to make a casefor deflating the meaning of race as Dobzhansky recommended,rather than eliminating it from our biological ontology. They cannotsimply appeal to Dobzhansky’s authority.

4 Issues surrounding hereditarianism may be the exception here.

5. Scientific racism: don’t even think about it?!

Sesardic’s (2010) argument for racial naturalism had threeprongs: genetic, genetically determined morphological, andgenetically determined psychological. There was an importantmisunderstanding between Sesardic (2013) and I regarding thethird prong, red herrings, and smelly fish. Sesardic (2010) made acase for the validity of racial classification based on the first twoprongs, but not the third. Appearing to take the existence of races tobe established on the first two prongs he argued for the plausibilityof genetically determined (statistical) moral and intellectual dif-ferences between the so-called races, although he did not supportthis argument by describing any evidence in its favour. Because Iwanted to reply to Sesardic’s discussion of hereditarianism, butthought that it was a distraction from the debate about the validityof human racial classification, I called it a red herringda pungentone (Hochman, 2013b). The red herring is used in detective novelsto throw off pursuing scent hounds. A pungent red herring is adistraction you particularly want to pursue.

Sesardic did not follow my metaphor. He thought I was treatingthe topic like I might a smelly fish, avoiding it altogether: “why isthere so much repugnance toward the topic that it is called “aparticularly pungent red herring”?” (Sesardic, 2013, p. 292). This isa misunderstanding. I wanted to respond to Sesardic’s section onalleged psychological and moral differences but did not becauseunlike the sections on genetic and morphological differences it didnot contain arguments for the validity of racial classification, whichwas the topic of discussion. However, in Sesardic’s response he callspsychological differences “one of the potential sources of racialdifferentiation” (Sesardic, 2013, p. 287). This suggests that Sesardicbelieves not only that there might be biologically heritable psy-chological differences between the so-called races but that theymight be distributed in such a way that they could be used todifferentiate between and classify people into races. For Sesardic yourIQ ordto use another of his examplesdhow criminally inclined youare, could be used to determine your ‘race’. This was not clear in his2010.

Sesardic gives us no reason whatsoever to accept the view thatthere are biologically heritable psychological differences thatclump according to ‘race’. He focussed only on what he consideredto be bad anti-hereditarian arguments. Sesardic complains that‘racial’ differences are “a priori ruled out at the psychological level”for political and moral reasons (Sesardic, 2013, p. 292). But unlesshereditarians can give positive evidence for their view, what isthere for anti-hereditarians to respond to? Sesardic needs to arguethat the reason “criminal activity is [allegedly] significantly higherin some racial groups than others” is biological, and not a productthe ongoing history of individual and institutionalised racism(Sesardic, 2010, p. 159).

Kaplan has recently argued that hereditarianism is unsupportedby current evidence. “It is impossible”, he writes, “to systematicallycontrol for the different environments experienced by differentpopulations in the US” (Kaplan, 2015, p. 15). However, Kaplan doesnot believe that hereditarianism is in principle untestable:

Active manipulation of environmental variables suspected ofbeing causally related to differences in the development of thecognitive abilities associated with performance on IQ tests is, ofcourse, eminently possible. Indeed, making those kinds ofchanges is precisely what those who regard the gaps in averageperformance between populations as a social justice issue hopeto do. But insofar as current racism, and the effects of pastracism, are responsible for the gap between the average scoresof Blacks and Whites (in the US, and more broadly), one mustrecognize that it is unlikely that the gap will be eliminable in thenear-future. Racism is simply too ubiquitous, and the effects aretoo varied, systematic, and long-lasting, for there to be any realhope of eliminating its effects in the near-term. But working toeliminate those effects, even knowing that failure, in the nearterm, is inevitable, remains the only decent course of actionavailable to us. (Kaplan, 2015, p. 15)

If Kaplan is right, it is only when racism and its effects are a thing ofthe past that hereditarians can test their view. If they really want toknow whether their position is true, then rather than suggesting thatcertain unnamed ‘racial’ groups might be criminally inclined bynature, which contributes to the kind of environmental differencesthat Kaplan suggests currently make it impossible to test heredi-tarianism, hereditarians would do better to fight for social justice.

Sesardic is aware that hereditarianism itself is linked withracism, but he argues that we should not take this connectionseriously. Hereditarianism, he writes,

has been supported not only by the big names in the history ofbiology like Charles Darwin, H. J. Muller, R. A. Fisher, J. B. S.Haldane, A. H. Sturtevant, Julian Huxley, W. D. Hamilton, JamesWatson and Francis Crick, but also by many reputable and verysophisticated contemporary scholars like Arthur Jensen, LindaGottfredson, John Loehlin, Richard Herrnstein, Charles Murray,David Rowe, Vincent Sarich, David Bartholomew, James Crow,etc. Now it is possible, of course, that all these scientists werejust motivated by visceral racism and that they had “no decentreasons” for their views, but I will assume that this possibilityshould not be taken seriously. (Sesardic, 2010, p. 160)

No reason is given to support Sesardic’s dangerous assumption thatwe should not even entertain the possibility that some hereditariansmight just be, or have been, racist. Against this assumption, Kaplanhas argued elsewhere that current hereditarians are “actively pro-moting ignorance about racism in the United States” and that theyare “properly regarded as racist not because they support a politi-cally unpopular scientific hypothesis, nor even (just) because theyare guilty of culpable ignorance, but rather because their work re-veals a deliberate and systematic attempt to minimize and ignoreboth the continued existence of racism, and the contemporary andhistorical effects of racism” (Kaplan, 2014, p. 160). If the history ofrace science has taught us anything, it is that we cannot assume thatscientists and other “reputable and very sophisticated scholars” areimmune to racism. Sesardic’s assumption seems fishy to me.

6. Conclusion

Philosophers of race have recently argued that we are reaching aconsensus about the facts of human biological diversity,4 so dis-agreements about the reality of race do not turn on the science. Iftrue, we need to focus our attention on the actual points of

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disagreement between race naturalists and anti-realists, whichseem to be primarily semantic (what does ‘race’ mean?) andnormative (what is the value of ‘racial’ classification?), rather thanscientific. Sesardic has argued that this picture is wrong becauseanti-realists endorse (1), which is a mistaken empirical claim. I haveshown that none of the authors Sesardic cites as endorsing (1)actually support this position. The ‘ordinary reader’dthe readerwho is not a race naturalist suffering from a crippling case ofconfirmation biasdwould have the wherewithal to recognise this.

Sesardic no longer identifies ‘races’ as human subspecies andnow endorses population naturalism about race. Presumablybecause population naturalism contrasts with (1) Sesardic does notseriously engage with my argument that population naturalism istoo weak a view to revive race as a legitimate biological category.After all, if anti-realism entails (1)da radical and obviouslymistaken claimdthen a weak view like population naturalismabout race may be all that the race naturalist needs. Given that anti-realists do not believe (1), population naturalists about race willneed to do more than appeal to Dobzhansky’s notion of race-as-population as hegemonic. This approach to race has always beencontested on semantic and pragmatic grounds. It trivialises thenotion of race and conflates it with ‘population’. A strong version ofracial naturalismdsuch as the view that there are human sub-speciesdmakes a non-trivial claim about human biological di-versity. It just happens to be untrue (Hochman, 2013a; Keita et al.,2004; Kittles & Weiss, 2003; Templeton, 2013). The concept of raceshould not be deflated, it should be popped.


I would like to thank Paul Griffiths, Jonathan Kaplan, PhilipKitcher, Edouard Machery and Frances Olive for their valuablefeedback on this work in an earlier incarnation. Thanks also to twoanonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. This work wasfunded by a Macquarie University Research Fellowship.


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  • Race: Deflate or pop?
    • 1. Introduction
    • 2. Forensic anthropology and ‘race’
    • 3. What do anti-realists about race really believe?
      • 3.1. ‘Race’ and the meaning of meaninglessness
      • 3.2. What do ‘race’, ‘unicorn’, ‘flat earth’ and ‘phlogiston’ have in common?
    • 4. The deflation of the meaning of ‘race’
    • 5. Scientific racism: don’t even think about it?!
    • 6. Conclusion
    • Acknolwedgements
    • References

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