The Conceptual Space of the Race Debate

in Theoria
Author: Susan L. Smith
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This project reveals the false conceptual space within which the contemporary debate about the nature of race is taking place. There is an implied spectrum within philosophical discussions of the nature of race that ranges from purely biological accounts of race to purely socially constructed accounts of race. In reality, no account of race can be given which exists at either extreme of the spectrum. The same discussion also applies to accounts of ethnicity. Ethnicity, though typically thought of as a non-biological entity, can be shown to be the result of a combination of nature and nurture or biological and social effects. In this project I examine six contemporary positions on race and ethnicity and illustrate how each makes the assumption that race and ethnicity are two distinct concepts. These positions include those proposed by Naomi Zack, Sally Haslanger, Joshua Glasgow, Linda Martin Alcoff, Robin Andreasen and Jorge J. E. Gracia.

Theoria

A Journal of Social and Political Theory

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