Spring 2022 Colloquium Series - 25 March
Kareem Khalifa, Middlebury College :: Is Race Like Phlogiston?
Friday, March 25, 2022
Abstract: In this talk, I will highlight some interesting and largely unexplored prospects and problems that result from taking race’s role in empirically successful social science as a guide to its ontology. In some ways, turning to the social sciences makes realism about race easier to defend than most philosophers of race have assumed. This is because race terms can be treated as elements in (social-)scientific representations. These representations, in turn, can serve their social-scientific roles despite providing only approximate and incomplete descriptions of racial reality. In other ways, turning to the social sciences also raises new challenges to realists about race. This is because race terms' role in empirically successful social science mirrors that of several discredited posits in the natural sciences. I conclude with some proposals for how realists about race can navigate this tradeoff.