Philosophical analysis and the moral concept of racism

Philosophy and Social Criticism 25 (5):1-32 (1999)
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This paper uses tools of philosophical analysis critically to examine accounts of the nature of racism that have recently been offered by writers including existentialist philosopher Lewis Gordon, conservative theorist Dinesh D'Souza, and sociologists Michael Omi and Howard Winant. These approaches, which conceive of racism either as a bad-faith choice to believe, a doctrine, or as a type of 'social formation', are found wanting for a variety of reasons, especially that they cannot comprehend some forms of racism. I propose an account that conceives racism chiefly as a motivational/volitional matter, in short, as a form of moral viciousness. I show how this approach offers a unified account that comprises inter alia individual and institutional racism, expressed and unexpressed racism. I point out advantages that my view has over Thomas Schmid's somewhat similar suggestion, and use the account to examine a number of claims made about racism by H. L. Gates, Jr, Elizabeth Young-Bruehl, Gertrude Ezorsky, and others. Finally, I defend this approach from the general criticism that Benjamin DeMott has levelled against any effort so to understand racism. Key Words: Benjamin DeMott • Dinesh D'Souza • existentialism • Lewis Gordon • moral concepts • Michael Omi • racism • social formation • Howard Winant



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Jorge García
Boston College

Citations of this work

The wrongs of racist beliefs.Rima Basu - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 176 (9):2497-2515.
Beliefs That Wrong.Rima Basu - 2018 - Dissertation, University of Southern California
Racist Humor.Luvell Anderson - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (8):501-509.

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References found in this work

Racisms.Kwame Anthony Appiah - 1990 - In David Goldberg (ed.), Anatomy of Racism. University of Minnesota Press. pp. 3-17.
Racisms.Kwame Anthony Appiah - 1988 - In John Perry, Michael Bratman & John Martin Fisher (eds.), Introduction to Philosophy: Classical and Contemporary Readings. Oxford University Press USA.
In My Father's House.Kwame Anthony Appiah - 1996 - Hypatia 11 (1):175-201.

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