The Best Philosophy Articles on Race and Gender


The selections for the latest Philosopher’s Annual, which takes as its goal “to select the ten best articles published in philosophy each year—an attempt as simple to state as it is admittedly impossible to fulfill” have been made. At the Philosop-her blog, Meena Krishnamurthy (Manitoba) notes that the latest volume, unlike any over the past decade, includes articles in mainstream political philosophy. However, she also notes that Philosopher’s Annual has included only four articles on the philosophy of race or philosophy of gender since 2000. These four are:

· Sally Haslanger,”Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them To Be?” (2000)
· Robert Bernasconi, “Who Invented the Concept of Race?” (2001)
· Karen Jones, “The Politics of Credibility” (2002)
· Sally Haslanger, “But Mom, Crop Tops Are Cute! Social Knowledge, Social Structure, and Ideology Critique” (2007)

Counting Haslanger’s 2000 article twice (once for gender, once for race) Krishnamurthy writes:

It cannot possibly be true that of the very best articles in philosophy since 2000 that only 5 of the best articles are in the area of race and gender. That we are led to this conclusion by the PA may suggest that there is something wrong with the methodology behind the PA.  

Not that there aren’t better or worse philosophy articles, but certainly there is going to be disagreement over what we could possibly mean by the best philosophy articles, a difficulty that Philosopher’s Annual seems to acknowledge with its goal statement, quoted above. So rather than attempt to suggest fixes to the methodology behind the Philosopher’s Annual, let’s instead create a helpful list for those looking for what’s missing there. Besides the four articles noted above, what have been “the best” articles on the philosophy of race and/or the philosophy of gender since 2000?

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magicalersatz
magicalersatz
7 years ago

Thanks for this thread. So many great options! I’m a little skeptical of lists of ‘best of. . .’ (and philosophers’ endless need to list and rank stuff), but here are some of my personal favorites from that time span.

Charles Mills, ‘Ideal Theory as Ideology’
Kristie Dotson, ‘Tracking Epistemic Violence, Tracking Practices of Silence’
Miranda Fricker, ‘Epistemic Injustice and A Role for Virtue in the Politics of Knowing’ and ‘Silence and Institutional Prejudice’
Ishani Maitra, ‘Subordination and Objectification’
Sally Haslanger, ‘Ideology, Generics, and the Common Ground’Report

Tom Cochrane
7 years ago

Note that they haven’t selected article on aesthetics/philosophy of art since 1982 (William Freedman: The Relevance of the Truth-Standard from The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism). And the only other one I see is Stephen Davies on music in 1981.

As a standard of comparison, Phil Papers currently indexes over 22,000 articles in aesthetics, compared with 10,000 on gender and race, and 15,000 in epistemology.Report

justinrweinberg
Reply to  Tom Cochrane
7 years ago

Good point, Tom. I’ve created a separate post for nominations for best articles in aesthetics since 1982.Report

Dana Howard
Dana Howard
7 years ago

Tommie Shelby, “Justice, Deviance and the Dark Ghetto” (2007) belongs in any “best of” listReport

Chike Jeffers
Chike Jeffers
7 years ago

A few phil of race articles I might nominate:

*Michael Root, “How We Divide the World” (2000)
*Paul C. Taylor, “Appiah’s Uncompleted Argument: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Reality of Race” (2000)
*Tommie Shelby, “Foundations of Black Solidarity: Collective Identity or Common Oppression?” (2002)
*Michael O. Hardimon, “The Ordinary Concept of Race” (2003)
*Charles W. Mills, “”Heart Attack”: A Critique of Jorge Garcia’s Volitional Concept of Racism” (2003)
*Ron Mallon, “Passing, Traveling, and Reality: Social Construction and the Metaphysics of Race” (2004)
*Ron Mallon, “‘Race’: Normative, Not Metaphysical or Semantic” (2006)
*Kathryn Gines, “Sartre, Beauvoir, and the Race/Gender Analogy: A Case for Black Feminist Philosophy” (2010)
*Alia Al-Saji, “The Racialization of Muslim Veils: A Philosophical Analysis” (2010)
*Quayshawn Spencer, “A Radical Solution to the Race Problem” (forthcoming)Report

bbagley
bbagley
7 years ago

Chike might also have nominated himself, with “The Cultural Theory of Race: Yet Another Look at Du Bois’s “The Conservation of Races.””Report

John Schwenkler
7 years ago

I don’t specialize in these areas, but Tamar Gendler’s “On the Epistemic Costs of Implicit Bias” (2011) seems to deserve consideration.Report

David Sobel
David Sobel
7 years ago

I would suspect that lists generated in this way, that can look back at work over several years and which gives us all the time we need to get wind of exciting work, read it and assess it, are likely to be more useful and accurate than lists that are created about a half year after the year being assessed ends. More like this please.Report

Roberta Millstein
7 years ago

Good suggestions so far. I would add the following papers on race:

Lisa Gannett, “Group Categories in Pharmacogenetics Research” (2005)
Lisa Gannett, “How by worrying less about the ‘really real’ philosophers of science might better contribute to debates about genetics and race” (2010)
Massimo Pigliucci and Jonathan Kaplan, “On the Concept of Biological Race and Its Applicability to Humans” (2003)
Robin Andreasen,“Folk Conceptions and the New Biology of Race” (2005)
Jonathan Kaplan and Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther, “Prisoners of Abstraction? The Theory and Measure of Genetic Variation, and the Very Concept of ‘‘Race’’” (2013)
Quayshawn Spencer, “Biological Theory and the Metaphysics of Race” (2013)Report

Esa Diaz-Leon
7 years ago

Great suggestions! Here are a few more:
Theodore Bach, “Gender is a Natural Kind with a Historical Essence,” Ethics 122/2 (2012): 231-272
Joshua Glasgow, “On the Methodology of the Race Debate: Conceptual Analysis and Racial Discourse,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, vol. 76 (March 2008), 333-358
Joshua Glasgow, “A Third Way in the Race Debate,” The Journal of Political Philosophy, vol. 14 (June 2006), 163-185
Mari Mikkola, “Ontological Commitments, Sex and Gender” in Witt, C. ed. Feminist Metaphysics, Springer Publishing (2011).
Asta Sveinsdóttir, “The Metaphysics of Sex and Gender”, Feminist Metaphysics, ed. by Charlotte Witt, 2011.
Charlotte Witt, “What is Gender Essentialism?”, in Witt, C. ed. Feminist Metaphysics, Springer, 11-25 (2011).Report

Quayshawn Spencer
7 years ago

So many good ones in race theory! The field has blew up since 2000. Instead of listing my friends, I’ll list a sample of race theory papers from 2000 to 2014 that have achieved at least 40 citations, which is a lot for a race theory paper (way above average). This is what I was able to do before Google Scholar stopped me (they have a limit of how many cites you can query within one hour). So, this list is probably incomplete, and perhaps unrepresentative of the complete list. In any case, Haslanger (2000) and Bernasconi (2001) are at the top (but some of that is likely due to Philosopher Annual-generated citations). Interestingly, Haslanger (2007) is nowhere to be seen despite winning a Philosopher’s Annual. But something that’s good to keep in mind here too is that a great deal of philosophy of race gets done in monographs, not journal articles. Furthermore, if we switch to a monograph ranking, this list would look very different indeed!

Sally Haslanger, “Gender and Race…” (2000) (155)
Robert Bernasconi, “Who Invented the Concept of Race?” (2001) (135)
Robin Andreasen, “Race: Biological Reality or Social Construct?” (2000) (75)
Christopher Hom, “The Semantics of Racial Epithets” (2008) (61)
Robert Bernasconi, “Kant as an Unfamiliar Source of Racism” (2002) (61)
Linda Alcoff, “Is Latina/o Identity a Racial Identity? (2000) (59)
Sally Haslanger, “What Are We Talking About…” (2005) (49)
Tommie Shelby, “Foundations of Black Solidarity…” (2002) (48)
K.A. Appiah, “Racial Identity and Racial Identification” (2000) (48)
Linda Alcoff, “Latino v. Hispanic…” (2005) (43)
Michael Hardimon, “The Ordinary Concept of Race” (2003) (43)
Naomi Zack, “Race and Philosophic Meaning” (2000) (40)Report

Roberta Millstein
Reply to  Quayshawn Spencer
7 years ago

I don’t know if you were suggesting that we should rely on the number of citations as an indicator of the quality of the paper. I don’t think I would rely on that because, as I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you, there are biases in what gets cited and what doesn’t. I guess number of citations are measure of impact, and that might be one sense of “best of,” but it wouldn’t be my preferred one. If I list my friends it’s because I think my friends do good work. So, I would say, go ahead and give *your* list. I’d be interested to see it.Report

Quayshawn Spencer
Reply to  Roberta Millstein
7 years ago

Thanks for the reply Roberta. Actually, I was suggesting that we should rely on the number of citations as an indicator of the quality of the paper (namely, impact). Not the sole indicator, but an indicator. While I acknowledge that bibliometric rankings have biases and limitations, all rankings do, and rankings done by personal reflection are known to have more biases and limitations. I’d rather look at people’s behavior to infer what they think is good philosophy versus asking them directly. So, if you want “my list”, all I’m going to do is list the papers I’ve cited the most frequently in my own race theory papers between 2000 and 2014. =) Which are below (nothing below 50% is listed, and 91% accuracy ain’t bad!)…

Sally Haslanger, “A Social Constructionist Analysis of Race” (2008) (75%)
J. Kaplan and R. Winther, “Prisoner’s of Abstraction?…” (2013) (75%)
C. Kendig, “Race as a Physiosocial Phenomenon” (2011) (75%)
Robin Andreasen, “The Meaning of ‘Race’…” (2005) (50%)
Koffi Maglo, “Researching vs. Reifying Race…” (2012) (50%)
E. Machery and L. Faucher, “Social Construction and the Concept of Race” (2005) (50%)
Adam Hochman, “Against the New Racial Naturalism” (2013) (50%)
Sally Haslanger, “Language, Politics, and “the Folk”…” (2010) (50%)
Michael Root, “How We Divide the World” (2000) (50%)
Neven Sesardic, “Race, a social destruction of a biological concept” (2010) (50%)
Lisa Gannett, “Questions Asked and Unasked…” (2010) (50%)Report

Kristina Meshelski
Kristina Meshelski
7 years ago

Great list! Want to add for race:
Eamonn Callan “The Ethics of Assimilation” (2005)

and since no one has mentioned any transgender studies stuff yet:
Talia Mae Bettcher “Trans Women and the Meaning of ‘Woman'” (2012)Report

Quayshawn Spencer
7 years ago

Here is a more complete list of race theory papers from 2000 to 2014 that have achieved at least 40 citations. The sample here represents its population very well. However, again, a lot of the best work in race theory comes in monographs, so one should not think that the list below represents the best research done in race theory from 2000 to 2014.

Sally Haslanger, “Gender and Race…” (2000) (155)
Robert Bernasconi, “Who Invented the Concept of Race?” (2001) (135)
Charles Mills, “White Ignorance” (2007) (97)
Lisa Gannett, “Racism and Human Genome Diversity…” (2001) (80)
Robin Andreasen, “Race: Biological Reality or Social Construct?” (2000) (75)
Ian Hacking, “Why Race Still Matters” (2005) (69)
Christopher Hom, “The Semantics of Racial Epithets” (2008) (61)
Robert Bernasconi, “Kant as an Unfamiliar Source of Racism” (2002) (61)
Linda Alcoff, “Is Latina/o Identity a Racial Identity? (2000) (59)
Michael Root, “How We Divide the World” (2000) (57)
Ron Mallon, “ ‘Race’: Normative, Not Metaphysical…” (2006) (50)
Sally Haslanger, “What Are We Talking About…” (2005) (49)
Cornel West, “Black Sexuality: The Taboo Subject” (2005) (49)
Lisa Gannett, “The Biological Reification of Race” (2004) (48)
Tommie Shelby, “Foundations of Black Solidarity…” (2002) (48)
K.A. Appiah, “Racial Identity and Racial Identification” (2000) (48)
Edouard Machery and L. Foucher, “Why Do We Think Racially?…” (2004) (48)
Bernard Boxill, “A Lockean Argument for Black Reparations” (2003) (45)
Linda Alcoff, “Latino v. Hispanic…” (2005) (43)
Michael Hardimon, “The Ordinary Concept of Race” (2003) (43)
Philip Kitcher, “Does ‘Race’ Have a Future?” (2007) (42)
Ron Mallon, “Passing, Traveling, and Reality…” (2004) (42)
Naomi Zack, “Race and Philosophic Meaning” (2000) (40)
Jonathan Kaplan and Massimo Pigliucci, “On the Concept of Biological Race and Its Applicability to Humans” (2003) (40)Report

lantony
lantony
7 years ago

Sorry to be self-promoting, but I really do like the following two feminist essays, one by me alone, and the other by Rebecca Hanrahan and me:

Louise Antony, “Different Voices or Perfect Storm? Explaining the Dearth of Women in Philosophy,” Journal of Social Philosophy, Vol. XLIII, No. 3, Fall 2012. (Special edition on Implicit Bias, guest editors: Margaret Crouch and Lisa Schwartzman).

Rebecca Hanrahan & Louise Antony, “Because I Said So: Toward a Feminist Theory of Authority” Rebecca Hanrahan, Hypatia., Vol. 20, No. 4, Fall 2005.Report

Roberta Millstein
7 years ago

This is a reply to Quayshawn Spencer (for some reason I’m not getting a “reply” button to allow me to reply to his reply to me):

I should say that I agree that seeing which papers are most cited — have the most “impact” — is an important thing to do that does indicate something about the state of the field. Still, I’d rather see lists from people whose work I respect. Everyone knows that personal lists are biased, but lists based on overall citations often masquerade as being objective even though they are not. I don’t think I’d say that the former are more biased than the latter; I’d be more inclined to say that the biases of the former are more perspicuous and thus the lists are more useful. So, thank you for providing your list; it seems to me that the papers that one cites frequently are a good indicator of work that one finds to be interesting, provocative, and worth responding to, at a minimum.Report

epicciuto
epicciuto
7 years ago

I would love to see what people think are particularly good articles for teaching undergrads.Report