Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Human Races: Classification and Distinctions

I was listening to a young Marxist SJW arguing on the net that there's no proof that the human races differ in intellectual capacity or temperament. Of course, there's plenty of proof of just that, and it has manifested itself throughout history, and has been proven again and again since the beginning of the scientific method as we know it. But it was actually rather refreshing not to hear from him the latest trendy slogan "race doesn't exist." "Race," was used some time ago in a vague manner, and people could speak of the race of frogs — meaning species — or the race of blacksmiths — meaning a group with a common occupation. Since then it's acquired its current meaning of a subdivision of a species, or a subspecies, which can be a stage on the way to becoming a separate species. In short, when you say there are human races, you're confirming the fact that there is a single human species.

And the fact that separate races are not separate species implies that it's hard to say into how many races the species should be divided, and exactly where to draw the boundaries. This is much like the dispute over whether Pluto is a planet or a dwarf planet. It all depends on how you define the term.But to say that a distinction is not a real distinction is to miss the point. Definitions and classifications are useful, and, indeed, may be the sort of thing that is a universal human ability that other species lack.

Eli Harman [link] elaborates on this:


All taxonomic classification schemes are somewhat arbitrary. They involve drawing lines where they may not exist, or may only seem to. Organisms exist. Categories; we create, and sort them into. Taxonomy is the map, not the territory. Its worth is measured in its utility for that purpose, mapping the territory.

1) Human races meet the criteria for subspecies that we apply in at least some other cases.

2)There are good reasons why we might want to draw those distinctions. They may be useful distinctions to draw. In any case, people draw those distinctions informally, whatever the scientific dogma maintains, and they will go on drawing them no matter how many normative injunctions are duplicitously issued in the guise of empirical science, that they ought not to. The only thing you are accomplishing by doing so is diminishing the integrity and credibility of science.

3) The decision NOT to draw those distinctions is just as arbitrary, if not more arbitrary, than any decision to draw them. The map, to be of most use, must mark features of the territory which are of import to us, and those distinctions are.

Finally, pointing out past errors or inadequacies in how those demarcations have been made is straw man, conflation, and throwing the baby out with the bath water. Come back when you are serious.
Quibcag: the girl is Mai Minakami (水上 麻衣) from Nichijou (日常).