Philosophy Department Colloquium: Michael Hardimon (UCSD)

Event Date: 

Friday, April 29, 2022 - 4:00pm

Event Location: 

  • South Hall 5617

Three Ontological Truisms and the Metaphysics of Race

Abstract: Ron Mallon contends that there is an “ontological consensus” among academic race theorists regarding the metaphysical facts surrounding racial or racialized phenomenon and that the remaining disagreement in race theory is semantic or normative (Mallon 2006).  I propose adding “three ontological truisms” to this consensus and contend that their inclusion poses a basic metaphysical question for race theory, namely, Are the ancestry groups the truisms refer to races?  These groups are not racialist races, but from this it does not follow that they are not races. Race theory has other race concepts at its disposal including the critical minimalist concept of race. When this concept is articulated, it becomes clear that the ancestry groups in question satisfy its conditions and that race therefore exists. This claim can be rebutted by contending that the minimalist concept of race is not a genuine race concept. I argue to the contrary that the critical minimalist concept is indeed a genuine race concept and that an urgent reason for deploying it is that it makes it possible to dislodge the racialist concept of race and dispel the illusion that racialist races exist. My contention that race exists is a controversial metaphysical thesis. It represents a counterexample to Mallon’s no-substantive-metaphysical-disputes-in-race-theory claim. Pace Mallon there are real metaphysical issues in the theory of race.