Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Mark Boardman: Why Both Sides Are Wrong In the Race Debate


This starts off pretty good, but crashes and burns in the end. Boardman tries to spin things too hard for racial antirealism. He also doesn't quite get the question right. Still, a decent sketch of some of the arguments early on.

The right way to ask the question is: are racial distinctions biologically significant? The answer is: sometimes yes, sometimes no. Race is a weird and sketchy concept, but it isn't pure fiction from a biological perspective. It's fashionable on the left to assert that race is "socially constructed"...but since "socially constructed" is a term too laughably confused to be a part of any serious discussion, we won't countenance it around these parts...

Race is obviously not just made up--many racial divisions are grounded in biological realities. It's just not a terribly important concept; racial differences aren't very important as biological differences go. Look, even the blond/brunette distinction is a real distinction. It isn't fictive, it isn't "socially constructed" nor any such nonsense. It just isn't important. Many racial distinctions are more important than the blond/brunette distinction...but none are anywhere near as scientifically important as, say, the male/female distinction. We know that (some current lefty madness to the contrary) the male/female distinction is a real one...and we don't think that acknowledging this is fatal to the egalitarian we shouldn't freak out about the reality of certain racial differences.

It's tempting to try to deny that race is real as a tactical move against racists--but it's a bad move. It might be rhetorically effective, but it isn't true. There's simply no need to hang the fate of the egalitarian project, even in part, on such a shaky hook.


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