Intro Philosophy Books and Race

Nathan Nobis (Morehouse) writes in with a request:

I am seeking help with a small research project regarding race and philosophy. This project would be to (a) make a list of introductory philosophy and ethics textbooks and anthologies and (b) review those books to see what content they have regarding race. This is to find out what readings various anthologies contain that address issues about race. If you would be interested in helping with this project, please email me at [email protected]

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9 years ago

A related issue is the trend of philosophy textbooks to create narratives of the history of philosophy as completely white and male, then towards the end of the anthology, in a wholly transparent exercise in plausible denial, place a short excerpt or two from a philosopher of color and/or a woman philosopher. Why would deBois be included in an Intro textbook? Philosophical inquiry transcends issues of race, of course!

9 years ago

Here is a link to this project, which is moving along slowly:
If anyone would like to contribute to it, I can either give you access to the file, or you can just email me the info and I’ll add it. Thanks! [email protected]

9 years ago

A pet hunch of mine is that the lack of discussion about issues of race in ethics and Philosophy in general may be due to an unspoken understanding that the question of racism is “easy”, that is to say, that we all agree racism is bad, therefore, what else is there to say? Of course, this is an attitude you can only have if you know nothing, or very little, about what contemporary anti- racist discourse looks like and what the current battles are concerned with. Issues like white privilege, and what to do about it, issues like mass incarceration, particularly with an emphasis on disproportionate sentencing. Issues confronting implicit bias research and how to overcome our implicit biases. Things of the sort that are nowhere to be seen in any standard ethics course. I wager the best explanation is not that these issues don’t present any serious philosophical issues to be discussed (since they obviously do), but rather that philosophers simply don’t know much, if anything, about these issues, so they take the “problem of racism” as essentially solved. And to them, “the problem of racism” amounts to nothing more than “Yeah, minorities deserve equal rights, duh”. And if your conception of racism is that shallow, it’s little wonder you think the answers are easy and already settled.

David Miguel Gray
9 years ago

Applied Ethics: A Multicultural Approach edited by May, Wong, and Delston has about 10 articles dealing with race issues. Sober’s Conceptual Issues in Evolutionary Biology (3rd Ed.) has two articles by on biology of race. Russell’s and Graff’s The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Language also has an article on race. Best of luck!

NathanielAdamTobiasC (@natcphd)
9 years ago

‘they take the “problem of racism” as essentially solved’

– in the same way in which ‘they’ take themselves to have ‘solved’ the problem of ‘slavery’ . . .