Race: A Philosophical Introduction Essay

2010 words - 9 pages

Race-thinking: what is it? Isn’t the world past the issue of race? Do races even exist and if so, what does it mean to have a racial identity? Is colorblindness possible and how important is it? These are the questions Paul Taylor addresses in the book “Race: A Philosophical Introduction”. Paul Taylor is a self-proclaimed “radical constructionist” who will maintain that race is very real in our world and in the United States (p. 80). Taylor takes care to ensure he addresses the real needs concerning racial dynamics in the U.S., referencing historical events, prevailing policy affairs, and even pop culture to explain that everyone capable of forming opinions ought to have some sort of grasp ...view middle of the document...

Taylor does not argue that race demonstrates itself in almost every aspect of who we are, however he does denounce that race is biological in the most basic sense. Concerning race-thinking automatically leading to racism, Taylor states that race-thinking by itself does not lead to racist behavior, but instead it is consistently paired with “other factors, like a shaky commitment to democracy, or a failure to constrain the pursuit of profit, public order, or political power with norms of decency and justice” (p. 30). In other words, race-thinking doesn’t lead to racism unless it’s specifically combined with other elements which can prompt such conduct. Finally, Taylor explains that, though “racist practices can certainly result in the concentration of one race or another in particular economic niches” that “race-thinking isn’t class-thinking, essentially, because the two categories can get out of phase with each other: a race may be divided into many classes, a class may be divided into many races. Class, like ethnicity, can be racialized, as when the callused hands and sun-darkened skin of the worker come to signify rudeness or inferiority” (p.58-59). Simply put, the two factors (race and class) do not necessarily go hand and hand. A latino male could be middle class and a manual laboring white man could be considered low class simply because of the aspects of his employment. (83%
In the third chapter of the book, after introducing more history, Taylor addresses the metaphysical and epistemic effects of race and taking a serious look at race. To assist in the comprehension of this thought process, metaphysics is defined as “the branch of philosophy that treats of first principles, includes ontology and cosmology, and is intimately connected with epistemology” (Metaphysics). In simpler terms, metaphysics talks about the basic theoretical assumptions of any given subject. Basing his study mostly in what citizens of the U.S. encounter, Taylor takes a look at developments of what he calls “late-modern racialism”. Late modern racialism, as explained by Taylor, is best demonstrated by a report written by a minor official in the U.S. federal government in 1965, Daniel Moynihan. This report, eventually known as the Moynihan Report, “traced persistent racial inequality to a ‘tangle’ of black cultural ‘pathologies’” (p. 75). Expressly, the explanation for the constant racial discrimination in the United States is a result of black cultural shortcomings and not a blatant black inadequacy. Of course this thought process turns into the thought that “we aren’t treating them poorly because they’re black, we’re treating them poorly because of their culture”. Ultimately, the metaphysical and epistemic effects brought him to three recommendations: races are established truths which involve various associations between ancestry, bodies, and social structures; races are as real as dollar bills and athletes; and we have authorization to accept or deny races and...

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