chapter  4
14 Pages

Transmission Genetics and Ideas of Race

In chapter 1, it was evident that even the Enlightenment philosophers Hume and Kant did not, beyond assuming the existence of human races, provide a conceptual justification for social racial taxonomy. I showed how Kant relied on a notion of racial essences that was metaphysical and as such not useful for an empirical scientific basis of race, and how Hume's assumptions about white supremacy would have required a similar essentialism, in contradic­ tion of his empiricist philosophical commitments. In chapter 2, I examined the geographical basis of race, and it became clear that neither geography itself, nor geography combined with some adaptive evolutionary changes, can ground 'race. ' In chapter 3 , I addressed the phenotypes associated with race, as a possible scientific basis for social racial typology. The two most important phenotypes in racial identification, skin shades and blood types, were seen not to correspond with social racial categories. The late-nine­ teenth-and early-twentieth-century attempts at scientific anthropometry yielded no other phenotypes that came close to blood types in a promise of objectivity or otherwise corresponded with social racial categories . The failure of a phenotypical basis for race entails the failure of the hypothesis that phenotypic differences between social races are the evolutionary effects of differences in environmental conditions, because the apparent phenotypic differences in social races cannot be translated into scientific generalizations. There is too much phenotypic variety within social racial groups to scien­ tifically identify those groups based on phenotypes.