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Metaphysics and Race

Atkinson, Michael Peter; (2021) Metaphysics and Race. Masters thesis (M.Phil.Stud), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis examines the metaphysics of race. It begins by trying to find an interpretation of the claim that race is socially constructed which makes sense as a position within a substantive metaphysical debate. By identifying the different commitments and controversies in the debate, I argue that the best such interpretation is a constitutive one. I then consider Barnes’s (2020) discussion of the metaphysics of gender, in which she advocates two theses. The negative thesis holds that a successful metaphysics of gender need not line up with ordinary gender terms and beliefs. The positive thesis holds that the metaphysics of gender is concerned with explaining the various phenomena of gender. The expressions required in our ideology and posited categories and entities required in our ontology are those needed to satisfactorily explain gender. In applying this to race, I argue that there is no distinctive explanatory task for metaphysicians of race to engage in. There is no explanatory remainder left once the natural and social sciences have performed their work. The correct metaphysics of race, while concerned with explaining the phenomena of race, is not to be determined by metaphysicians. This is the modified positive thesis. The modified positive thesis fits neatly with the post-Quinean thought that science and metaphysics are continuous. In Chapter 3, I argue for deflationism regarding the actual metaphysics of race debate. There is an ontological consensus - an agreement over what, empirically, there is - between the participants. What they disagree over is what racial concepts (should) apply to. But, while interesting and useful, this isn’t a substantive metaphysical debate. The debate over how to explain race, on the other hand, is substantive. I discuss related issues, including the distinctions between pluralism, deflationism, and racial scepticism, and the presuppositions of the standard debate regarding natural kinds.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Qualification: M.Phil.Stud
Title: Metaphysics and Race
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10120713
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