Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 143–162 | Cite as

Race: a social destruction of a biological concept

  • Neven SesardicEmail author


It is nowadays a dominant opinion in a number of disciplines (anthropology, genetics, psychology, philosophy of science) that the taxonomy of human races does not make much biological sense. My aim is to challenge the arguments that are usually thought to invalidate the biological concept of race. I will try to show that the way “race” was defined by biologists several decades ago (by Dobzhansky and others) is in no way discredited by conceptual criticisms that are now fashionable and widely regarded as cogent. These criticisms often arbitrarily burden the biological category of race with some implausible connotations, which then opens the path for a quick eliminative move. However, when properly understood, the biological notion of race proves remarkably resistant to these deconstructive attempts. Moreover, by analyzing statements of some leading contemporary scholars who support social constructivism about race, I hope to demonstrate that their eliminativist views are actually in conflict with what the best contemporary science tells us about human genetic variation.


Race Social constructivism Genetics Geographical ancestry Human variation Philosophy of science 



I would like to thank Rafael DeClercq, A. W. F. Edwards, Charles Murray, Alex Rosenberg, Omri Tal and Jiji Zhang for useful comments on earlier drafts.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lingnan UniversityTuen MunHong Kong

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