Advertisement

Philosophical Studies

, Volume 175, Issue 5, pp 1013–1037 | Cite as

A racial classification for medical genetics

  • Quayshawn Nigel Julian Spencer
Article

Abstract

In the early 2000s, Esteban Burchard and his colleagues defended a controversial route to the view that there’s a racial classification of people that’s (epistemically) useful in medicine. The route, which I call ‘Burchard’s route,’ is arguing that there’s a racial classification of people that’s useful in medicine because, roughly, there’s a racial classification with medically relevant genetic differentiation (Risch et al. in Genome Biol 1–12, 2002; Burchard et al. in N Engl J Med 348(12):1170–1175, 2003). While almost all scholars engaged in this debate agree that there’s a racial classification of people that’s useful in medicine in some way, there’s tremendous controversy over whether any racial scheme is useful in medicine because there are medically relevant genetic differences among those races (Yudell et al. in Science 351(6273): 564–565, 2016). The goal of this paper will be to show that Burchard’s route is basically correct. However, I will use a slightly different argument than Burchard et al.’s in order to provide a firmer foundation for the thesis, both metaphysically and genetically. I begin by reviewing Burchard’s route and its critics. Second, I present an original argument for establishing Burchard et al.’s conclusion using a Burchard-like route. I call it ‘Spencer’s route’. I reply to major objections along the way, and I end with a summary.

Keywords

Genetic Medical Medicine Race Racial 

References

  1. Andreasen, R. O. (2008). The concept of race in medicine. In M. Ruse (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of philosophy of biology (pp. 478–503). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Barbujani, G., Ghirotto, S., & Tassi, F. (2013). Nine things to remember about human genome diversity. Tissue Antigens, 82, 155–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bastos-Rodriguez, L., Pimenta, J. R., & Pena, S. D. J. (2006). The genetic structure of human populations studied through short insertion-deletion. Annals of Human Genetics, 70, 658–665.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bolnick, D. (2008). Individual ancestry inference and the reification of race as a biological phenomenon. In B. Koenig, S. Lee, & S. Richardson (Eds.), Revisiting race in a genomic age (pp. 70–85). New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bryc, K., Velez, C., & Ostrer, H. (2010). Genome-wide patterns of population structure and admixture among Hispanic/Latino populations. Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, 107, 8954–8961.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burchard, E., et al. (2003). The importance of race and ethnic background in biomedical research and clinical practice. The New England Journal of Medicine, 348(12), 1170–1175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bustamante, C. D., Burchard, E. G., & De La Vega, F. M. (2011). Genomics for the world. Nature, 475(7355), 163–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cavalli-Sforza, L. L. (2005). The human genome diversity project: past, present, and future. Nature Genetics, 6, 333–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cooper, R. S., Kaufman, J. S., & Ward, R. (2003). Race and genomics. The New England Journal of Medicine, 348(12), 1166–1170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Donovan, B. M. (2014). Playing with fire? The impact of the hidden curriculum in school genetics on essentialist conceptions of race. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 51(4), 462–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ennis, S. R., Ríos-Vargas, M., & Albert, N. G. (2011). The Hispanic population. 2010 Census Brief. Washington, DC: US Census Bureau.Google Scholar
  12. Feldman, M. (2010). The biology of ancestry: DNA, genomic variation, and race. In H. R. Markus & P. M. L. Moya (Eds.), Doing race: 21 essays for the 21st century (pp. 136–159). New York: W.W. Norton & Co., Inc.Google Scholar
  13. Forester, M. B., & Merz, R. D. (2003). Maternal age-specific down syndrome rates by maternal race/ethnicity, Hawaii, 1986–2000. Birth Defects Research (Part A): Clinical and Molecular Teratology, 67, 625–629.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Friedlaender, J. S., Friedlaender, F. R., & Weber, J. L. (2008). The genetic structure of Pacific Islanders. PLoS Genetics, 4(1), 173–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gannett, Lisa. (2003). Making populations: Bounding genes in space and time. Philosophy of Science, 70(5), 989–1001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gerbault, P., Liebert, A., Itan, Y., & Thomas, M. G. (2011). Evolution of lactase persistence: An example of human niche construction. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 366, 863–877.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gilbert, K. J. (2016). Identifying the number of population clusters with structure: Problems and solutions. Molecular Ecology Resources, 16, 601–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Girle, Rod. (2009). Modal logics and philosophy (2nd ed.). Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Glasgow, Joshua. (2009). A theory of race. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Grieco, E. M., & Cassidy, R. C. (2001). Overview of race and Hispanic Origin. Census 2000 Brief. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau.Google Scholar
  21. Guo, G., Fu, Y., Lee, H., Cai, T., Harris, K. M., & Li, Y. (2014). Genetic bio-ancestry and social construction of racial classification in social surveys in the contemporary United States. Demography, 51(1), 141–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Halder, I., Yang, B., Kranzler, H. R., Stein, M. B., Shriver, M. D., & Gelernter, J. (2009). Measurement of admixture proportions and description of admixture structure in different US populations. Human Mutation, 30(9), 1299–1309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hardimon, Michael. (2017). Rethinking race: The case for deflationary realism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hartl, D. L., & Clark, A. G. (2007). Principles of population genetics (4th ed.). Sunderland: Sinauer Associates.Google Scholar
  25. Haslanger, S. (2012). Resisting reality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hixson, L., Hepler, B. B., & Kim, M. O. (2011). The White Population. 2010 Census Brief. Washington, DC: US Census Bureau.Google Scholar
  27. Hixson, L., Hepler, B. B., & Kim, M. O. (2012). The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Population. 2010 Census Brief. Washington, DC: US Census Bureau.Google Scholar
  28. Hochman, A. (2013). Against the new racial naturalism. The Journal of Philosophy CX, 6, 331–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kalinowski, S. T. (2011). The computer program STRUCTURE does not reliably identify the main genetic clusters within species: Simulations and implications for human populaiton structure. Heredity, 106, 625–632.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kaplan, Jonathan. (2010). When socially determined categories make biological realities: Understanding Black/White Health Disparities in the U.S. The Monist, 93(2), 281–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Latch, E. K., Dharmarajan, G., Glaubitz, J. C., & Rhodes, O. E. (2006). Relative performance of Bayesian clustering software for inferring population substructure and individual assignment at low levels of population differentiation. Conservation Genetics, 7, 295–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Li, J. Z., Absher, D. M., & Myers, R. M. (2008). Worldwide human relationships inferred from genome-wide patterns of variation. Science, 319, 1100–1104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Maglo, K. N., Mersha, T. B., & Martin, L. J. (2016). Population genomics and the statistical values of race: An interdisciplinary perspective on the biological classification of human populations and implications for clinical genetic epidemiological research. Frontiers in Genetics, 7, 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mallick, S., Li, H., Lipson, M., & Reich, D. (2016). The Simons Genome Diversity Project: 300 genomes from 142 diverse populations. Nature, 538(7624), 201–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Manichaikul, A., et al. (2012). Population structure of hispanics in the United States: The multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis. PLoS Genetics, 8(4), e1002640.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Martínez-Cruz, B., et al. (2011). In the heartland of Eurasia: The multilocus genetic landscape of Central Asian populations. European Journal of Human Genetics, 19, 216–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McEvoy, B. P., Lind, J. M. et al. (2010). Whole-genome genetic diversity in a sample of Australians with deep aboriginal ancestry. The American Journal of Human Genetics, 87, 297–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Millstein, Roberta. (2009). Populations as individuals. Biological Theory, 4(3), 267–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Morris, S. G. (2011). Preserving the concept of race: A medical expedient, a sociaological necessity. Philosophy of Science, 78(5), 1260–1271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Norris, T., Vines, P. L., & Hoeffel, E. M. (2012). The American Indian and Alaska Native Population. 2010 Census Brief. Washington, DC: US Census Bureau.Google Scholar
  41. OMB. (1995). Standards for the classification of federal data on race and ethnicity. Federal Register: The Daily Journal of the United States Government, 60(166), 44674–44693.Google Scholar
  42. OMB. (1997a). Recommendations from the interagency committee for the review of the racial and ethnic standards to the office of management and budget concerning changes to the standards for the classification of federal data on race and ethnicity. Federal Register: The Daily Journal of the United States Government, 62(131), 36874–36946.Google Scholar
  43. OMB. (1997b). Revisions to the standards for the classification of federal data on race and ethnicity. Federal Register: The Daily Journal of the United States Government, 62(210), 58782–58790.Google Scholar
  44. OMB. (2000). Provisional guidance on the implementation of the 1997 standards for Federal Data on race and ethnicity. Washington, DC: Office of Management and Budget.Google Scholar
  45. Pemberton, T. J., DeGiorgio, M., & Rosenberg, N. A. (2013). Population structure in a comprehensive genomic data set on human microsatellite variation. G3: Genes, Genomes Genetics, 3(5), 891–907.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Pereira, V., et al. (2015). The peopling of Greenland: Further insights from the analysis of genetic diversity using autosomal and X-chromosomal markers. European Journal of Human Genetics, 23, 245–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Perry, John. (2001). Reference and reflexivity. Stanford: CSLI Publications.Google Scholar
  48. Pritchard, J. K., Stephens, M., & Donnelly, P. (2000). Inference of population structure using multilocus genotype data. Genetics, 155, 945–959.Google Scholar
  49. Quine, W. V. (1951). Two dogmas of empiricism. The Philosophical Review, 60(1), 20–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Reich, D., et al. (2012). Reconstructing Native American population history. Nature, 488(7411), 370–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Risch, N., Burchard, E., Ziv, E., & Tang, H. (2002) Categorization of humans in biomedical research: Genes, race and disease. Genome Biology 1–12.Google Scholar
  52. Roberts, Dorothy. (2011). Fatal invention: How science, politics, and big business re-create race in the twenty-first century. New York: The New Press.Google Scholar
  53. Root, Michael. (2003). The use of race in medicine as a proxy for genetic differences. Philosophy of Science, 70(5), 1173–1183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Rosenberg, N. A. (2001). Empirical evaluation of genetic clustering methods using multilocus genotypes from 20 chicken breeds. Genetics, 159, 699–713.Google Scholar
  55. Rosenberg, N. A., Pritchard, J. K., Cann, J. L., Weber, H. M., Kidd, K. K., Zhivotovsky, L. A., et al. (2003). Response to comment on “Genetic Structure of Human Populations”. Science, 300, 1877c.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Rosenberg, N., Pritchard, J., & Feldman, M. (2002). Genetic structure of human populations. Science, 298(5602), 2381–2385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Rotimi, C. N. (2004). Are medical and nonmedical uses of large-scale genomic markers conflating genetics and ‘race’? Nature Genetics, 36(11), S43–S47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Serre, D., & Pääbo, S. (2004). Evidence for gradients of human genetic diversity within and among continents. Genome Research, 14, 1679–1685.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Shringarpure, S., & Xing, E. (2014). Effects of sample selection bias on the accuracy of population structure and ancestry inference. G3: Genes, Genomes Genetics, 4(5), 901–911.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Smart, W. M. (1946). John Couch Adams and the discovery of neptune. Nature, 158, 648–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Spencer, Q. (2012). What ‘Biological Racial Realism’ should mean. Philosophical Studies, 159(2), 181–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Spencer, Q. (2013). Biological theory and the metaphysics of race: A reply to Kaplan and Winther. Biological Theory, 8(1), 114–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Spencer, Q. (2014). The unnatural racial naturalism. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 46, 38–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Spencer, Q. (2015). Philosophy of race meets population genetics. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 52, 46–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Spencer, Q. (2016). Do humans have continental populations? Philosophy of Science, 83(5), 791–802.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Spencer, Q. (2018a). Are Folk Races Like Dingoes, Dimes, or Dodos? In G. Rosen, A. Byrne, J. Cohen, E. Harman, & S. Shiffrin (Eds.), The Norton introduction to philosophy (pp. 571–581). New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc.Google Scholar
  67. Spencer, Q. (2018b). Racial realism I: Are biological races real. Philosophy Compass, 13(1), e12468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Spencer, Q. (2018c). Racial realism II: Are folk races real? Philosophy Compass, 13(1), e12467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Sullivan, S. (2013). Inheriting racist disparities in health: Epigenetics and the transgenerational effects of white racism. Critical Philosophy of Race, 1(2), 190–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Swallow, D. M. (2003). Genetics of lactase persistence and lactose intolerance. Annual Review of Genetics, 37, 197–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Tang, H., Quertermous, T., & Risch, N. J. (2005). Genetic structure, self-identified race/ethnicity, and confounding in case-control association studies. American Journal of Human Genetics, 76(2), 268–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Taylor, P., Lopez, M. H., Martínez, J. H., & Velasco, G. (2012). When labels don’t fit: Hispanics and their views of identity. Washington, DC: The Pew Hispanic Center.Google Scholar
  73. Templeton, Alan R. (1998). Human races: A genetic and evolutionary perspective. American Anthropologist, 100(3), 632–650.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Templeton, A. R. (2013). Biological races in humans. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 44(3), 262–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Tishkoff, S. A., Reed, F. A., & Williams, S. M. (2009). The genetic structure and history of Africans and African Americans. Science, 324, 1035–1044.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Wall, J. D., et al. (2013). Higher Levels of Neanderthal Ancestry in East Asians than in Europeans. Genetics, 194, 199–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Wang, S., et al. (2007). Genetic variation and population structure in native Americans. PLoS Genetics, 3(11), e185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Weiss, K. M., & Long, J. C. (2009). Non-Darwinian estimation: My ancestors, my genes’ ancestors. Genome Research, 19, 703–710.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Wilson, J. F., Weale, M. E., Smith, A. C., & Goldstein, D. B. (2001). Population genetic structure of variable drug response. Nature Genetics, 29, 265–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Winther, R. G., Giordano, R., Edge, M. D., & Nielsen, R. (2015). The Mind, the Lab, and the Field: Three Kinds of Populations in Scientific Practice. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 52, 12–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Xing, J., et al. (2010). Toward a more Uniform Sampling of Human Genetic Diversity: A Survey of Worldwide Populations by High-density Genotyping. Genomics, 96(4), 199–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Yudell, M., Roberts, D., DeSalle, R., & Tishkoff, S. (2016). Taking race out of human genetics. Science, 351(6273), 564–565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

Personalised recommendations