Research Group
in Analytic Philosophy

In Defence of Historical Constructivism about Races

Date: 10 December 2014

Time: 15:00

Place: Aula 402


Social constructivism about races holds that races are socially real, that is, that they are identical with socially constructed properties, or social kinds. One particular version of social constructivism, namely, historical constructivism, claims that the properties that make a group of people a race are certain historical properties of the individuals that belong to that group (e.g. the life histories of the members of the group, or their ancestors). Joshua Glasgow has recently argued that historical constructivism faces several problems. In particular, he argues, it faces a trilemma: either the characterization of races provided is circular, or, if it wants to avoid circularity, it will turn out to be either redundant or indeterminate. In this paper, my main aim is to explore this interesting challenge to historical constructivism about races, and argue that it can escape Glasgow’s trilemma. I will focus on historical constructivism about races, but I hope my discussion will shed some light on the question of whether social constructivist accounts in general are tenable.