Philosophical Studies

, Volume 174, Issue 11, pp 2709–2729 | Cite as

In defense of the metaphysics of race

  • Adam HochmanEmail author


In this paper I defend the metaphysics of race as a valuable philosophical project against deflationism about race. The deflationists argue that metaphysical debate about the reality of race amounts to a non-substantive verbal dispute that diverts attention from ethical and practical issues to do with ‘race.’ In response, I show that the deflationists mischaracterize the field and fail to capture what most metaphysicians of race actually do in their work, which is almost always pluralist and very often normative and explicitly political. Even if debates about the reality of race turn out to be verbal disputes, they are substantive, and worth having.


Metaphysics Deflationism Racial naturalism Social constructionism about race Anti-realism about race 



I would like to thank an audience at Macquarie University’s philosophy seminar series for their feedback, and especially Paul Formosa for a particularly helpful question. I am grateful to Paul Griffiths and the group of philosophers of biology at the University of Sydney for their comments on an earlier draft of this paper, and to Frances Olive for her useful suggestions. An anonymous referee offered very helpful comments, and to them I am also grateful. This work was funded by a Macquarie University Research Fellowship.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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