Book Review: "Philosophy of Race: An Introduction" - Naomi Zack


Book cover.

Philosophy of Race: An Introduction provides plainly written access to a new subfield that has been in the background of philosophy since Plato and Aristotle. Part I provides an overview of ideas of race and ethnicity in the philosophical canon, egalitarian traditions, race in biology, and race in American and Continental Philosophy. Part II addresses race as it operates in life through colonialism and development, social constructions and institutions, racism, political philosophy, and gender. This book constructs an outline that will serve as a resource for students, nonspecialists, and general readers in thinking, talking, and writing about philosophy of race.

This book is part of the Palgrave Philosophy Today book series.

This collection of essays is designed to be an introduction to the philosophy of race. This is firmly pitched at a beginner lever - and I'm glad of it. It sets out historic and contemporary ideas about race, racial identity, and prejudice.

It mostly focuses on American racial issues. There are some interesting diversion into historical European attitudes, and a brief look at the Rwandan genocide. There's a quick passage on Japan, and a look at the caste system in India - but almost nothing else. The locus is firmly on USA. That's disappointing, but understandable.

A few minor criticisms. In one essay, the author cites Reddit(!) as the source for a historic economic claim.
Book screenshot. The citation references an Ask A Historian Reddit post.
As it happens, the currency conversion tool cited on Reddit disagrees with her calculation by a factor of 20.

The author believes that the people who live in the country of "Whales" are called the "Welch"!

Intersectionality gets a chapter but, again, very American focussed.

If you want an overview of the philosophical ideas behind our modern understanding of race, this is a great start.

Both the PDF and ePUB are currently free when downloaded directly from the publisher.

Verdict
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