Added by: Laura Jimenez
Publisher’s Note: Contemporary theorists use the term “social construction” with the aim of exposing how what’s purportedly “natural” is often at least partly social and, more specifically, how this masking of the social is politically significant. In these previously published essays, Sally Haslanger draws on insights from feminist and critical race theory to explore and develop the idea that gender and race are positions within a structure of social relations. On this interpretation, the point of saying that gender and race are socially constructed is not to make a causal claim about the origins of our concepts of gender and race, or to take a stand in the nature/nurture debate, but to locate these categories within a realist social ontology. This is politically important, for by theorizing how gender and race fit within different structures of social relations we are better able to identify and combat forms of systematic injustice.
Although the central essays of the book focus on a critical social realism about gender and race, these accounts function as case studies for a broader critical social realism.
Comment: The book as a whole explores the interface between analytic philosophy and critical theory. As it is a collection of essays, particular chapters can easily be used separately, some serving as introductory, others as more advanced readings. It could be of interest for undergraduate or postgraduate courses in political philosophy, philosophy of language and philosophical methodology.Export citation in BibTeX formatExport text citationView this text on PhilPapersExport citation in Reference Manager formatExport citation in EndNote formatExport citation in Zotero format
Added by: Simon Fokt
Summary (Diversifying Syllabi): There are a variety of possible views about the metaphysical status of racial assignments, which roughly parallel the variety of meta-ethical views in the literature. Most people are realists about race. Those who see that the realist position is wrongheaded often conclude that race is unreal, subjective, or relative. Both of these views are mistaken.
There are seven candidate conditions for racial identification: appearance, ancestry, public awareness of ancestry, self-awareness of ancestry, culture, experience, and self-identification. Consideration of ten cases of “racial transgressives”—in which a person has some of these conditions but not others — push on our intuitions and ultimately show that we ought to conclude that race is a social construction. This view is to be distinguished from relativism, insofar as you can be wrong about what race you are: Thinking does not make it so.
Comment: This article draws parallels between various positions on the nature of race and various positions on the metaphysical status of ethical values (realism, constructivism, nihilism, etc.). The article explains the latter meta-ethical positions quickly and cursorily, so your students might need a primer (Diversifying Syllabi).Export citation in BibTeX formatExport text citationView this text on PhilPapersExport citation in Reference Manager formatExport citation in EndNote formatExport citation in Zotero format