Biological Theory

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 114–120 | Cite as

Biological Theory and the Metaphysics of Race: A Reply to Kaplan and Winther

Long Article


In Kaplan and Winther’s recent article (Biol Theory. doi:10.1007/s13752-012-0048-0, 2012) they argue for three bold theses: first, that “it is illegitimate to read any ontology about ‘race’ off of biological theory or data”; second, that “using biological theory to ground race is a pernicious reification”; and, third, that “race is fundamentally a social rather than a biological category.” While Kaplan and Winther’s theses are thoughtful, I show that the arguments that their theses rest on are unconvincing. In order to be constructive, I go on to show exactly how one can use biological theory and data to legitimately infer an ontological view of race, to infer a biological view of race that is not a reification, and to argue that race is both socially constructed and biologically real.


Biodiversity Biological theory Genetics Kinds Ontology Race 


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Copyright information

© Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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