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David Ludwig: Biological Races as a Form of Injustice

Philosophy of a Specific Discipline Symposium
Biological Races as a Form of Injustice
Biological Races as a Form of Injustice

David Ludwig (VU) on "Biological Races as a Form of Injustice", with comments by Catarina Dutilh-Novaes (RUG)

Time: 15:00-17:00 on Wednesday March 29
Place: room Omega, Faculty of Philosophy

Recent debates in philosophy of race have focused on whether racial concepts refer to something real. While anti-realists claim that “race” fails to refer to anything real, racial realists have developed a variety of accounts of races as biological, cultural, and/or social groups. Depending on the kind of realist account, racial concepts may refer to biological facts or to socially constructed categories which are nevertheless ‘real’.

The aim of this talk is to use the framework of “conceptual ethics” to develop a different perspective: Rather than trying to understand what “race” refers to in current conceptual practices, I want to focus on the explicitly normative question of how we should use the term/concept “race”. I address this question in two steps. First, I introduce the notion of taxonomic injustice as a general tool for conceptual ethics, i.e. a form of injustice related specifically to practices of classification of people into groups. Second, I argue that biological accounts of race satisfy the criteria for taxonomic injustice, and are thus problematic. While “race” could be used to refer to biological population structure, such a practice should be rejected because it is harmful and not without alternatives.

Last modified:27 February 2017 11.37 a.m.