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Social Construction and the Concept of Race

Edouard Machery and Luc Faucher
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 72, No. 5, Proceedings of the 2004 Biennial Meeting of The Philosophy of Science AssociationPart I: Contributed PapersEdited by Miriam Solomon (December 2005), pp. 1208-1219
DOI: 10.1086/508966
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/508966
Page Count: 12
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Social Construction and the Concept of Race
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Abstract

There has been little serious work to integrate the constructionist approach and the cognitive/evolutionary approach in the domain of race, although many researchers have paid lip service to this project. We believe that any satisfactory account of human beings’ racialist cognition has to integrate both approaches. In this paper, we propose to move toward this integration. We present an evolutionary hypothesis that rests on a distinction between three kinds of groups—kin‐based groups, small scale coalitions, and ethnies. Following Gil‐White (1999, 2001a, 2001b), we propose that ethnies have raised specific evolutionary challenges that were solved by an evolved cognitive system. We suggest that the concept of race is a byproduct of this mechanism. We argue that recent theories of cultural transmission are our best hope for integrating social constructionists’ and cognitive/evolutionary theorists’ insights.

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