This is my sixth post in a series on the metaphysics of race. If you want to start at the beginning, you can go right to the introduction to the series, or you can go to the full list of posts with links. Each post after that has a link at the bottom of the previous post.
Now Spencer also acknowledges that there are different social constructions than the OMB one, and those don’t have anywhere near the kind of biological support to count as biological races. So what if some practice takes Pacific Islanders or aboriginal Australians (who have black skin and tight, curly hair, just as Africans do) to count as black because they have the same appearance as Africans and African Americans? The only way to get such a group is to focus on biologically insignificant categories in comparison to what Structure does. But some people think about race that way, and one social construction of race does put those three genetically distinct populations into one race. Skin color and hair type are such a tiny percentage of anyone’s genome that picking those out doesn’t have any biological reason to support it. The reason you would lump those diverse genetic groups together is because people treat them similarly because of their appearance. The practice of putting such groups into a racial categoy has social reasons, because our society makes those features significant when people discriminate or make assumptions about people because of their skin color. That allows you to have socially constructed races with different boundaries than the ones the OMB uses. Those socially constructed races are not biological, he says.
Jeremy Pierce is a philosophy professor, Uber/Lyft driver, and father of five.