Back to [Archive] Post-review discussions

[OBG] Nature of Race Full
Chuck, just reminding you that you can invite one external reviewer. This is a bona fide invitation, trusting the author that the reviewer is qualified and has no conflicts of interests. Besides this "jolly" reviewer, anyone (unlimited number) can apply to review your paper by posting an application to become a reviewer on the Reviewers thread under "Meta". They do not have to apply for unlimited reviewer status, they can just apply to review this paper of yours.
At pages 5-6 (although you should not forget to activate the option "page numbers") you describe how Kant makes the distinction between races and species (with races described as being interfertile), but no mention of Baker's counter-example (the one cited above). I do not know if you want to cover this topic, but Baker, for what I know was the only one who has questioned the definition of species given by Dobzhansky and that is widely used, even today. I would like you to incorporate it in your text if you can.

I added a brief discussion and a footnote; I also added some clarifications regrading the use of the term "race".
Too bad, I came here very late. I wanted to edit my last reply first before you submit another version. Here's the list of changes you can make regarding punctuations. (the list is shorter now since you have corrected some of the mistakes that I have noticed earlier).

For example, an ethnic Hui individual might have a ratio of one South Asian to two 511 Han ancestors

At very least, terms should be consistently applied.

The character of the class is passes on invariably in heterogeneous interbreeding,

and while it was held by some that the characteristic differences could become, in the lineages, fixed , the division themselves

In sociology, some equate “biological essentialism” with the position of genetic determinism or even with hereditarianism . In more rigorous discourse

They could be said to be accidental in a sense . In contrast to character essentialism

The language, below, is weird. Is this expression ok ?

Proposed was more or less a model of survival of the fittest in which the fittest were form typical

I would like you (if possible) to include a (some) reference(s) at the end of the following sentence :

this issue is complex and there is a long running debate over whether and in what way he recognized individual (and by implication intraspecific) essences

Another problem is with Robin Andreasen. You spelled that name correctly in section 1, but in section 3, you have typed "Andresean" everywhere (five times; 4 at the beginning and 1 at the end of the section 3).

Generally, I think the arguments in your sub-section on essentialism are well made, although it's unfortunate that it's so big. I'm sure you could have made it shorter while no less informative. I admit I have not read many of the references cited, especially the old ones, so I haven't (and don't want) to check all of them (too many), so I have to stick to the citations you've given, and I think your case is entirely tenable.

In your article, you have strongly insisted on the notion of constancy in species, e.g. :

The monogenist Buffon (1779) had a response. He conceptualized species as "physical networks of historical filiation" (Sloan, 1979) and, in turn, constant varieties as intraspecific lineages, ones which share a common ancestral origin. He tells us: "[I]n animal species, races are simply constant varieties that propagate through generations"


species were often thought to be characterized by both intrinsic reproductive isolation, to use contemporary terms, and constancy of character, while varieties were thought to be characterized by both inconstancy of character and interfertility

But I'm wondering how Baker's statement would affect the entire argumentation, as there might be some cases of mislabeling in the species. The distinction between race and species, as he says, is by no means so rigid as these words would imply.

Lewin & Foley (2004; page 47 table 3.1) on Principles of Human Evolution have a nice table summarizing the definition of species given by various authors:

Biological species concept (Mayr)

Groups of actually or potentially interbreeding natural populations which are reproductively isolated from other such groups

Specific mate recognition concept (Paterson)

Members sharing a specific mate recognition system to ensure effective syngamy within a population of organisms

Cohesion species concept (Templeton)

The most inclusive population of individuals having the potential for phenotypic cohesion through intrinsic cohesion mechanisms

Evolutionary species concept (Simpson)

A lineage evolving separately from others and with its own unitary evolutionary role and tendencies (and historical fate)

Ecological species concept (Van Valen)

A lineage which occupies an adaptive zone minimally different from that of any other lineage in its range and which evolves separately from all lineages outside that range

Phylogenetic species concept (Cracraft)

The smallest diagnosable cluster of individual organisms within which there is a parental pattern of ancestry and descent

One difficulty with the term species, which may explain the various definitions given to it, is to ally "continuity through time – an essential component of evolution – and clear-cut demarcation – an equally essential component when dealing with issues of reproductive isolation". Lewin & Foley also pointed out a problem that reminds me a little of Baker's statement :

There are also practical difficulties. For biologists dealing with living species, even the apparently solid definition of the biological species concept is not always as straightforward as might be imagined, as the question of producing fertile offspring is often a gradual rather than instantaneous one. For paleontologists dealing with extinct species, the difficulties are obvious: you simply cannot know whether one fossil specimen was able to breed with another specimen that it resembled physically. Evolutionary relationships among fossil species must be based on a logical system of resemblances.

These are additional elements you can add, although I will not disagree with your response (footnote 5) to the point I have made earlier. Your answer, by the way, is interesting in that it is consistent with Lewin & Foley (2004, pp. 48-49) explanation of how species emerge. But the whole point : in what way it is relevant to Baker's statement ? Your argument was that "Since the acceptance of evolution, it has been recognized that different species share a common origin; those who now argue that species should exhibit intrinsic reproductive isolation generally define species (contra subspecies) this way." But I don't think Baker was referring to the emergence of a specie due to reproductive isolation.
I updated part 4; I rewrote a number of passages; I am still waiting to get feedback on the introduction.
Generally, it is well-written and interesting.

I am not a reviewer for OBG, but I have some comments.

Nevertheless, these four contradictory claims, individually flawed as they are, are thought by many to constitute, in composite, an ironclad argument against any attempt to characterize certain populations of Homo sapiens as biological races.

You are writing philosophy and in that field one sometimes use "contradictory" in a more specialized way to mean the negation of a claim. What you are talking about here is a set of mutually inconsistent claims but none of each are contradictory to each other. They are merely contrary. The difference being that for sets of contrary claims, it is possible for them all to be false, while in a set of (two) contradictory claims, one of them must be true and one must be false.

See e.g. here.

All of this is true, and rather trivial, but since statements 1 through 4 are so often taken to mean something true and nontrivial -- that there is no robust sense in which there are human biological races -- we feel compelled to provide a precise conceptual framework for biological race.

The chapter has only 1 author, but you use the plural first person. Hopefully, you're not going to add your cat as a co-author.

We think you can appreciate our confusion.

The quoted part makes sense, but it is written with philosophical jargon, which may seem obtuse to outsiders.

Natural kind and nonaccidental.

Instead, we will simply sketch a biological conception of race, defend the validity and biological reality in some sense of this understanding, explain how it applies to human beings, and criticize the usual arguments presented by opponents of biological conceptions of race.


This simply illustrates the unity of knowledge. Nevertheless, certain concepts, such as biome, organelle, and gene, can be considered primarily biological and not, say, physical.

The choice of example with “physical” could be misunderstood as being about physicalism. You could switch to “geological” to avoid this potential confusion.

It appears as though a “valid concept,” in whatever field, must be (a) one consistent with logic, and (b) one consistent with the state of knowledge in that field.

This is a pet peeve of mine, but why do you put commas inside quotation marks? It really bugs me when people do that.

You may also want to adopt the common practice in linguistics+philosophy of using double quotation marks for quotations or to refer to words, and single quotation marks for unclear terms (as above). You can also reverse this choice (some people do that).

I would rewrite "consistent with logic" to "not self-contradictory". It is better that way, since the other is technically speaking nonsense.

Next, since “kind” in general means 'a group of individuals, instances, or things that share common or similar properties or characteristics', we should specify that our biological kinds are groups defined by some shared biological property; that is, the members are related by some function or characteristic of living organisms.

Is this a dictionary definition? If so please provide a reference.

hus, a concept like gene could be potentially epistemologically useful, say to geneticists, but if it was sociopolitically undesirable, say to Lysenkoists, and if the sociopolitical interest was deemed to outweigh the scientific one, the concept gene would be deemed to be epistemologically (and so biologically scientifically) illegitimate.

Your may want to add a comma or something between these.

 In “Man's Most Dangerous Myth”, Ashley Montagu argued that the term “division” should be used in place of “race”; also “races” were frequently historically described as divisions of a species; thus, referring to “races” as “divisions” seems well justified.

Your footnote has the same font size as the main text. Normally you would want it to be smaller. This is also a problem in other footnotes.

On the other hand, as far as we are aware, 'all animals with flies on their nose' versus 'all other animals' does not accord with any valid biological concept; thus, we would conclude that this doesn't represent a valid biological division.

Some animals don't have noses at all, so for them, there is an indirect reference failure á la present king of France.

If organisms are grouped according to the way they affect people, edible or poisonous, domesticated or wild, weed or crop, we make an artificial classification. This artificial classification is based on a few, superficial characteristics. (A superficial characteristic is one which can easily be seen at a glance.)

Most existing biological classifications of organisms are based on attempts to show evolutionary relationships between species (phylogeny) based on such evidence as physical characteristics, paleontology, embryology, immunology, biochemistry, cell structure, ecology, behavioral and reproductive strategies. Classifications which reflect an attempt to show evolutionary origins and relationships are termed natural classifications. (Rowland, 1992)

An odd quote. Classifying species in biology as domesticated or wild is surely not an artificial classification by their own definition. It is directly about their recent evolutionary history!

I-F. Races as Natural Biological Divisions

This title has a non-working link.

Evolutionary taxonomists, on the other hand, delineate groups according to genealogy only in the retrospective sense; taxa are only retrospectively monophyletic -- and so may be paraphyletic.

This is the Google redirect link, not the direct link.

Footnote 21 is overly long. Perhaps incorporate it in the next or move to appendix.

I don't understand the purpose of the I-K section. It seems disconnected with the rest.

"Biologically real" things include breeding populations; evolution; hydra, the animal marked by radial symmetry; and ecosystems. "Biologically non-real" things include humors; Hydra, the many-headed monster; spontaneous generations; and (in our opinion) the Yeti.

Why the need for "in our opinion"?

(e.g., effect size guidelines used in the social sciences, such as: Cohen’s d > 0.5 = modest)

Careful, you >0.5 d includes e.g. 10 d, which isn't modest. You need to use an interval. The typical guideline for modest effect size is .3-.8 d.

In general, I like the introduction. You should write a few words about the role of Christian dogma in constraining how scholars understood human variation. For instance, when you mention polygenism, you state:

"since certain human geographic groups exhibited relatively constant and quite conspicuous differences, it was concluded by some (polygenists) that these regional groups were different species of man."

That wasn't the full reason. The main reason was the presumed lack of time for such differences to arise. This point is covered in the Wiki entry on polygenism:

"A major reason for the emergence of Biblical polygenism from around the 18th century was because it became noted that the number of races could not have developed within the commonly-accepted Biblical timeframe.

[...] Co-Adamism claims that there was more than one Adam or small groups of men, created at the same time in different places across the Earth, and therefore that the different races were separately created. The idea of co-Adamism has been traced back as far as Paracelsus in 1520.[10] Other 16th century advocates of co-Adamism included Thomas Harriot and Walter Raleigh, who theorised a different origin for the Native Americans.[11]

Giordano Bruno (1548 – 1600), a CoAdamist, believed that there was an infinite number of Gardens of Eden:

I can imagine an infinite number of worlds like the Earth, with a Garden of Eden on each one. In all these Gardens of Eden, half the Adams and Eves will not eat the fruit of knowledge, and half will. But half of infinity is infinity, so an infinite number of worlds will fall from grace and there will be an infinite number of crucifixions[12]

In 1591 Giordano Bruno argued that because no one could imagine that the Jews and the Ethiopians had the same ancestry, then God must have either created separate Adams or Africans were the descendants of pre-Adamite races.[13]

An anonymous Biblical paper supporting co-Adamism was published in 1732 entitled Co-adamitae or an Essay to Prove the Two Following. Paradoxes, viz. I. That There Were Other Men Created at the Same time with Adam, and II. That the Angels did not fall.[14]

Henry Home, Lord Kames was a believer in co-Adamism.[15] Home believed God had created different races on Earth in separate regions. In his book Sketches on the History of Man in 1734 Home claimed that the environment, climate, or state of society could not account for racial differences, so that the races must have come from distinct, separate stocks.[16]

Charles White was another advocate of co-Adamism, although he used less theology to support his views.[17] White's Account of the Regular Gradation in Man in 1799, provided the empirical science for polygenism. White defended the theory of polygeny by refuting French naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon's interfertility argument—the theory that only the same species can interbreed—pointing to species hybrids such as foxes, wolves and jackals, which were separate groups that were still able to interbreed.[18]

Charles Hamilton Smith, a naturalist from England, was a polygenist: he believed races had been created separately. He published the book The Natural History of the Human Species in 1848. In the book he maintained that there had always been three fundamentally distinct human types: The Caucasian, the Mongolian and the Negro. He also referred to the polygenist Samuel George Morton's work in America.[19] Samuel Kneeland wrote an 84-page introduction to the American edition of the book where he laid out evidence which supports polygenist creationism and that the Bible is entirely compatible with multiple Adams.[20]

John William Colenso, a theologian and biblical scholar, was a polygenist who believed in co-Adamism. Colenso pointed to monuments and artifacts in Egypt to debunk monogenist beliefs that all races came from the same stock. For example, Ancient Egyptian representations of races showed exactly how the races looked in his time. Egyptological evidence indicated the existence of remarkable permanent differences in the shape of the skull, bodily form, colour and physiognomy between different races which are difficult to reconcile with biblical monogenesis. Colenso believed that racial variation between races was so great, that there was no way in which all the races could have come from the same stock just a few thousand years ago. He was unconvinced that climate could change racial variation and also believed, in common with other biblical polygenists, that monogenists had interpreted the Bible wrongly."
Too bad, I came here very late. I wanted to edit my last reply first before you submit another version. Here's the list of changes you can make regarding punctuations. (the list is shorter now since you have corrected some of the mistakes that I have noticed earlier).

I completely rewrote most of the second half of III-C, starting with: "And what of Aristotelian essences?" But I only managed to reduce the number of pages by one. Can you read over this section -- along with the beginning of section III-B. Every time I make changes I end up introducing errors.

I made all of the mentioned corrections, though. I don't really want to discuss modern species concepts. I changed my one footnote to:

"The disagreement about whether species should be expected to exhibit intrinsic isolation, or something akin to this, persists today. The debate has a different flavor to it, though. Prior to the acceptance of evolutionary theory, species (contra varieties) were defined in terms of having distinct phylogenetic origins; it was argued by some that this distinctness should be diagnosed or evidenced by a lack of interfertility, as it was thought by them that separateness of origin precluded interfertility. Since the acceptance of evolution, it has been recognized that different species share a common origin; those who now argue that species should exhibit intrinsic reproductive isolation generally define species (contra subspecies) this way. Accordingly, species are races which have acquires intrinsic isolation mechanisms. It has been pointed out by a number of authors e.g., Baker (1974) that this is a problematic definition since a number of recognized species do produce hybrids with closely related species."
There are quite a lot of grey whitespaces in the paper. You can get rid of them by using search and replace (with normal space).

Blyth proposed a taxonomy of varieties which included as types both “breeds” and “true varieties”, both of which were brought about through linebreeding; he gave as an example of the latter the “diverse races or mankind”.

I think that needs to be an "of".

As before, some footnotes have larger than expect font size.

When John Aktin said, "I am persuaded the black and white race have, ab oriigne sprung from different colored parents", he was proposing that the said races were different species.

The Latin part should be italic.

Beginning at "A selection of Definitions of race from the 20th and 21st century", the left margin is strangely enlarged.

Why is the order of definitions the way it is? Perhaps rank them by year of definition to make temporal change easily visible.

Footnote 5 is missing an initial space to separate the number from the first word.

It follows from this conception that: (a) biological races are subspecific; therefore, higher-order taxa cannot be considered to be these; (b) biological races divide species; therefore, a species cannot have only one race; (c) biological races are groups; therefore, individuals cannot be races; (d) biological races are genetically defined divisions; therefore, not all "genetic populations", as the term is often loosely used, are biological races.

Individuals can however be the last living person from a given race. The above seem somewhat inconsistent with this scenario.

Such alleles are called “identical-by-descent,” or IBD for short.
Thus for purposes of gene discovery we can define genetic population using retrospective terms based on the concept of IBD:

There is a random dot on its own line.

II-B. What the OBRC Does Not represent?

What does the abbreviation mean? It is only used in the subtitle (and in table of contents). Our biological race concept?

... When such occasions arise, the obvious tactic is to try to find ways of insulating the research so that potentially damaging consequences do not occur. Precisely this sensible tactic is prefigured in the use of the term ‘clusters’ by the researchers on human migrations. Unfortunately, the pressure on science journalism, even in the most apparently respect-able media, to sensationalize recent findings, led quickly to the demolition of the barrier that the investigators had hoped to erect.

Unnecessary dash.

It is worth noting that Štrkalj (2007), a crusader against biological race, goes on to make the self-contradictory argument that races in the sense of Dobzhansky (1962) represented artificial classifications

Logically, it is not well-defined to say that an argument is self-contradictory. Propositions can be. Perhaps you mean that his argument has two premises that are inconsistent with each other?

It is not clear what he is saying. From my reading of your text, you say that Štrkalj says that Dobzhansky's race concept represented artificial classifications, but that Dobzhansky explicitly denied this. In that case, it looks like a straw man/mischaracterization, not a self-contradictory argument.

Waples and Gaggiotti (2006) provide a representative sample of definitions, shown below:

Why do you have an image of some text? Why not just quote the text?

I don't have time to comment more now.
I have read the conversation in this forum a while ago, and rather quickly, so perhaps I missed something important here, I don't know (although, I have the feeling it had nothing to do with the arguments in defense of the race concept). But here's my first comments (the next ones will be given later).

About the punctuation and wording :

Second, a number of classical Greco-Roman writers deduced that regional characters where biologically inherited.


prior to the introduction and later popularization of this concept in the field of natural history intraspecific variation was understood in

I think you should put a comma between "natural history" and "intraspecific variation".

In turn, races, or constant varieties, were understood as being incipient species, the lineages that could evolve into species ones.

If you meant "incipient species, i.e., the lineages that could evolve into species ones", I think that defintion is a little bit loose, imprecise. See here.

As an example of (a), a RCL which included as one division "North Hemispherians " and

A RCL represents a specific system of grouping created in line with a specific racial concept; a race concept represents a conception about what makes races races.

I don't know. What do you think about "what makes races what they are" ? If you believe your sentence was already OK, I won't insist.

This classification has been characterized varyingly as the "the Holocene races of man", "the classic races of man", "the continental races of man", "the races of modern man", "folk races", and “Blumenbach races”.

If you can, perhaps add some references at the end of that sentence.


You should replace the above by :

he says that it, “"arises not only from the water, the diet, the soil, and the air, but also the seed which must be peculiar to certain races and species".

Remove one parenthese.

happen to more or less match with major races in the sense of intraspecific genealogical based divisions.

"genealogically-based divisions", no ?

rather, these are or at a certain time were major traditional races of man

I had a lot of troubles with that. Try using parentheses or commas.

IV-E. THR and Biologically Objective Races

It has been argued that as the THR represent divisions imposed on human genetic diversity

Try instead "Traditional Human Races (THR) and Biologically Objective Races".

As a result, one cannot carve out pan-African, North Eurasian, and South Eurasian natural divisions. One cannot strictly geographically define races.

Use cannot or can not instead of cannot.

with regards to region of genetic space, continental evolutionary races (given some time period and grain of focus).

Moreover, while one cannot strictly objectively define a grain of focus

Have you explained earlier what you meant by grain of focus ?

Since the grain of focus on which the TRLC exists objectively shows higher clusteredness, ... the TRCL

Until recently, human divisions were allotropic enough to racially differentiate

along with other THR (presumably because one would then have a paraphyletic classification),

As I said previously, your article contains a lot of technical vocabulary, and something like a glossary can be very useful for everyone who want to refer to the definition of all these words/expressions.

And now that I think about it, if you haven't said explicitly that races and subspecies are meant to say the same thing (in Darwin, for instance), you should say it explicitly somewhere in your text (preferably at the Section1).

The modern human geographic evolutionary races circa 10,000 BC to 1,500 AD differ from the geographic human races circa 200,000 to 100,000 BC and before

It's confusing if you don't use the same terminologies.

they are natural divisions which are inferred based on clusters of phenotypic and genetic data [b].[/b] If one

the nested pattern of genetic diversity in the EHM disagrees ... Africans are not a race because the most exclusive group that includes all Sub- Saharan African populations

Use brackets and give the definition of EHM (expanded hierarchical model ?).

race is not strictly a taxonomic concept; it need not be understood from the perspective of taxonomy

it needs.

CD [b] [/b](Mb-Ma)/(Sda+SDb)

There is no shortage of typically used diagnostic characters to look at. Gill (1998) lists some

Humans (based on continental races) came 21 out of 25 in terms of genetic differentiation [b].[/b] These

First of all, a host of studies, beginning with those by Lewontin24 in 1972 and most recently by Barbujani and colleagues in 1997

24 is apparently the number of a reference in the quoted passage.

as anthropologist Peter Frost has noted, genetic variation between populations

If you're referring to a certain discussion at OP forum or at his blog, you should add a reference (with a link, possibly).

Of course, most of the variance was still "inter-individual" in the sense of inter- plus intra-individual (i.e.., intrapopulational).

Although the existing races of man differ in many respects, as in colour, hair, shape of skull, proportions of the body, &c., yet

Should be etc.

readers are cautiously referred to Lynn (2008) (cautiously because the work is badly in need of updating)

If you say Lynn's work needs to be updated without providing a cue and proof of what you say (e.g. by referring to Wicherts' works for instance), this claim is not justified.

instead, many are arguing for a simple and, in the authors' opinion, untenable purely environmental one [b].[/b]


You have, by the way, written Sarich & Miele (2002) instead of (2004), in your argument A3, and Gobineu instead of Gobineau (two times; see IV-L). And in that same section, you have typed Franz Boaz instead of Boas. You have also typed Berneir (1688) four times (in section IV-D), instead of Bernier. I mean... there are quite a handful of awful errors of that kind...


Since, you ask what we think about the first parts of the section 4, I will say I don't disagree much with you. For IV-A, I agree with your opinion that "regional morphological differences were recognized and used, at times, to classify populations", "a number of classical Greco-Roman writers deduced that regional characters where biologically inherited", "nations of people were often understood genealogically" and the illustrations you have given. Generally, I'm not very knowledgeable about the history, so I'm not the best pointer you could dream of.

For IV-B, I don't have much things to say, because it's essentially a review of the survey data/studies conducted on people's opinion and beliefs of races. Generally, this section is filled with citations by others and, so, is purely descriptive. However, I don't disagree when you say "they don’t tell us if the concept elaborated above would be rejected". For IV-C, you explain quite well why the categories of races given by the US department of Labor are "incongruent with the natural division concept" and so I don't disagree.

For IV-D, I agree that "early [classification] schemes (mentioned) did not completely misidentify populations with respect to the race concept being propounded here", and "taxonomies are confused when populations are not well separated or when they are admixed" and "One can always lump or split groups; and yet these specific groups can be inferred from the clustering of genes across geography".

Regarding this passage,

That is, delineations are not drawn geographically, but rather biologically; as such, in no instance are North Africans grouped into a “pan-African race” along with sub-Saharan Africans, and in no instance are South Asians grouped into a “pan-Asian” race along with East Asians.

I also understand that geographical delineations are just useless.

Baker, 1974, pp. 100-101

It has already been mentioned briefly (p. 83) that races are not necessily in every case separated geographically: it sometimes happens that two races live in the same territory, but occupy different habitats ('ecological niches') within it. The races and subraces of man seem to have evolved chiefly as a result of (partial) geographical isolation, but here and there one may find examples reminiscent of the 'ecological races' of animals. The pygmies (Bambutids) of Africa, living interspersed among the Negro (Palaenegrid) population, seem to fall into this category. Isolation is not complete, for there is evidence of a certain amount of Bambutid ancestry in the Palaenegrid population.

For the same reason, I appreciate your argument in the last paragraph of your section IV-F.

For IV-E, I don't quite understand this sentence :

Since opponents of biological race often argue that "race fails" because human natural divisions don't cluster enough or because differences between divisions aren't different enough, one might -- though we don't -- take degree of clusteredness and amount of dissimilarity fraction as an index of race idealness.

By saying though "we" don't, you said that you don't agree that "one might take degree of clusteredness and amount of dissimilarity fraction as an index of race idealness". If that's the case, I don't see why you have resorted to this argument.

But generally, I agree with your conclusion that "we don't see a conflict between gradual biological variation and natural biological divisions".

In the same section, you consider that racial categories are not artificial despite being arbitrary, notably because "when looked at across both time and space all natural divisions are arbitrary; that is, were one to take into account all life forms, living and extinct, one would find a genetic continuum. There is a deep sense, then, in which natural divisions are intrinsically arbitrary; they appear only when the full range of biological diversity, past and present, is not taken into account.". I agree again, and you can also refer to this passage of Baker's book (1974, pp. 109-110) :

3) Not everyone agrees on the delimitation of the races. Thus Wolsterstorff [1151] regards dobrogicus not as a race but as a subrace ('forma') of danubialis, while Mertens and Müller [735] regard these as separate races. Similarly, carnifex and karelini have been regarded as belonging to the same race. [132] It follows that no one can make a definite pronouncement on the number of races in the species Triturus cristatus. In the case of man it has been argued that the whole idea of races collapses, because the number of races cannot be positively stated. The facts that have been given about the races of Triturus cristatus show that this is not a valid argument. It is obvious that dobrogicus shows closer resemblance to danubialis than to karelini. It is not of very great importance whether we regard dobrogicus as a subrace of danubialis or as a separate race; different authorities may properly be permitted, in the present state of knowledge, to differ on this point. ...

For IV-I, you say :

The claim is that certain THR are nested within each other and that this nestedness precludes these races from being placed in the same taxonomic categorization scheme along with other THR (presumably because one would then have a paraphyletic classification),

This was in response to the Long et al. (2009) study quoted at page 32. But it's not necessarily clear what you're thinking by nesting. If you wanted to say that non-Sub-Saharan African populations are nested within Sub-Saharan Africans in the sense that the genetic diversity of the former group is a subset of the diversity found in the latter group, you should say it more explicitly.


I hope that, in your section 6, you will not forget to list all of the references. When you cite a paper, in sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, you don't list these references, and it is not obvious to me what you're referring to. Sometimes, I guess, sometimes, it's impossible.
Generally, it is well-written and interesting.

I made all of the edits except:

The quoted part makes sense, but it is written with philosophical jargon, which may seem obtuse to outsiders.

Natural kind and nonaccidental.

The confusing jargon helps convey our point.

Your footnote has the same font size as the main text. Normally you would want it to be smaller. This is also a problem in other footnotes.

This doesn't show up on my end.

Some animals don't have noses at all, so for them, there is an indirect reference failure á la present king of France.

All animals don't need to have noses for us to have the two said categories.

An odd quote. Classifying species in biology as domesticated or wild is surely not an artificial classification by their own definition. It is directly about their recent evolutionary history!

I presume that they mean formal taxonomic classifications e.g., species and not classifications like predator and prey.

Footnote 21 is overly long. Perhaps incorporate it in the next or move to appendix.

It wouldn't mesh with the rest of the paper, so I will just leave it.
There are quite a lot of grey whitespaces in the paper. You can get rid of them by using search and replace (with normal space).

I updated the file. I made all of the suggested corrections.
I have read the conversation in this forum a while ago, and rather quickly, so perhaps I missed something important here, I don't know (although, I have the feeling it had nothing to do with the arguments in defense of the race concept). But here's my first comments (the next ones will be given later).

I made all of the corrections and clarifications, except:

Try instead "Traditional Human Races (THR) and Biologically Objective Races".

This takes up too much space.

Also, MH said:

You have, by the way, written Sarich & Miele (2002) instead of (2004), in your argument A3, and Gobineu instead of Gobineau (two times; see IV-L). And in that same section, you have typed Franz Boaz instead of Boas. You have also typed Berneir (1688) four times (in section IV-D), instead of Bernier. I mean... there are quite a handful of awful errors of that kind...

Yes, this is a problem.
Several corrections could be made :

Spencer (2011) presented an apologia for human races as ... it seems to be exclude micro intra-specific natural divisions and thus is also too exclusive.

Woodley (2009) outlined a consolidated concept in which biological races were said to be ... he noted that this implied a linage concept


Post-Darwin[b],[/b] species and genus were, in a sense, ontologically demoted.

Maybe you meant "Post-Darwin species and genus were, in a sense, ontologically demoted".

does not yet preclude to view their inherited differences as originally unified differences as originally unified in their phylum in more predispositions

The correct sentence should be : does not yet preclude to view their inherited difference as originally unified in their phylum in mere predispositions

Thus, for example, if one is going to maintain that for something to be biological real

"biologically real", perhaps.

given some pa-biological criteria of “sufficient distinctness”

I don't know what is pa-biological.

neither discrete nor essentialist, as the historical concept would have it. (James, 2012;emphasis added)

Like Kant, Buffon did not consider albinos to constitute a race, since to be a members of a race is to share a common linage with other members of the same race

the same property which explain why individual belong to a population

Perhaps there is an s to individuals.

As historian James Lennox (2009) has noted, ... "Aristotelian essentialism" in modern philosophy” (Lennox, 2009). ... Unfortunately, James (2012) does not do this

I guess that Lennox (2009) and James (2012) are the same persons. So, it should be Lennox (2012), if the year is not incorrect.

Sober (1980) tells us that it involves a " Natural State Model", according to which


I have read again the entirety of the article. I don't see any problems generally. But regarding the two citations of Darwin, you have written :

For Darwin, species as with intraspecific divisions were arbitrary in that they did not carve out real or natural divisions in the species realist sense. They were, nonetheless, natural in the sense meant by Kant and current thinkers.

From what I can tell, the first sentence relates to the first citation, and the second sentence relates to the second; perhaps you should say it explicitly.

In the same section, III-B, there is that sentence from Kant that I cannot understand.

For one cannot turn a family of animals into a special kind if it belongs with another one to one and the same system of generation of nature.

Can you translate it for me ? Usually, Kant is difficult to read for me (or perhaps it's the english translation that is approximative).

For your section on racial biological essentialism, I'm ok with your changes. Although I said that you could reduce the length of the text, I only said you can (it wasn't a request, but a suggestion) do that by deleting anything that is not important (or is redundant). So, it's not a problem if you can't reduce the length of the text.
Several corrections could be made

I made the edits; also I changed two short sections, which are in red. Could you read them over.

I uploaded the references for parts 1-3 (checked over) and most of the rest. (I haven't check over the references for sections 4,5,6, though.

I used a different translation of the Kant quote. It should be clearer.

Once you check over the last two changes, I think that we will be good here.
John asked me to comment on this article, so here goes.

1) "I. Biology -- Philosophical Clarification"

Perhaps "I. 'Biologically real' - A Philosophical Clarification"

2) In footnote 2, in the sentence "The work of both men produced a rich...", replace "both men" with the names of these guys (Mill and ?) in brackets.

3) "Instead, we will simply sketch a biological concept of race, defend the validity and biological reality in some sense of this understanding"

Defend ITS validity and biological reality?

4) "although the phrase has been used in other contexts than race; for example, Lange (2012) argues that"

Replace the semicolon with a period. You overuse semicolons.

5) "It appears as though a ‘valid concept’, in whatever field, must be..."

Is this your or Lange's definition of a valid concept?

6) "social groups arise from animal social behavior, which falls under the biological domain of ethnology"

Ethology, not ethnology.

7) In the Kitcher (2007) quote, delete the first sentence, "This response will not do", as superfluous.

8) "Kitcher lays out a theory of pragmatic nature kinds"

Probably 'natural kinds'

9) "the concept gene would be deemed to be epistemologically"

the concept of gene

10) "scientists, philosophers, politicians, or the general population for their various devices and enterprises"

rephrase that, e.g., "for their various purposes"

11) "so long as it is drawn in accords with a valid biological concept"

in accordance with

12) "The debate continues because many desire a single system of “natural classification”, because most agree that this system should be based on genetic relatedness, because there are two related but not identical senses of genetic, genealogical and genotypic (here meant to refer to overall genetic makeup, not merely specific genetic characters), because genotypic relatedness is conditioned by more than mere phylogenic branching, and because, at times, as a result of the discordance between genealogy and genotype, classifications based on the two senses of genetic diverge."

This is a very confusing sentence with its multiple "because" clauses. Divide it into several different sentences.

13) "We find it odd that these same critics do not claim that e.g., “biological populations” (as commonly defined in biology) are likewise unreal"

What sorts of biological populations do you mean here?

14) "in which individuals are arranged by genealogical or, more recently, whole genotypic similarity"

Perhaps, "actual genotypic similarity"?

15) "on the basis of superficial, often phenetic, resemblance"

A definition of 'phenetic' would be welcome.

16) "Immanuel Kant, the most prominent philosopher to discuss race, for example, juxtaposed a natural (meaning genealogical based) understanding with an artificial (meaning phenetic resemblance based) one and situated the race concept in a genealogical based perspective"

genealogy-based rather genealogical based

17) What is it with the weird formatting in the Kant quote?

18) "The grounding in the genealogical (or now, genotypic) perspective, one in which a number of biological research programs (e.g., population genetics, evolutionary biology, and taxonomy) are, establishes the biological kindhood of the concept of race as natural division."

I would write:

The genealogical (or now, genotypic) perspective has been adopted by a number of biological research programs, including population genetics, evolutionary biology*, and taxonomy. This widely shared perspective, rather than taxonomic considerations per se, is what helps establish race as a biological kind. (not sure what the 'natural division' brings here)

* 'Evolutionary biology' seems awfully broad, replace it with something else.

17) "Their existence was part of the basis of Wilson and Brown’s (1953) critique of the subspecies category; according to this influential critique,"

Replace the semicolon with a period.

18) Monophyletic, paraphyletic, and polyphyletic should be defined.

19) Pictures should be numbered.

20) "From the evolutionary taxonomic perspective, birds are not reptiles since they have evolved to be quite genotypically distinct."

What's the actual basis for not considering birds as reptiles in the evolutionary taxonomic scheme? Genomic data weren't available until very recently, so the decision must have been based on phenotypic similarity/fossiles/whatever.

21) Section "I-I. Natural Divisions and Intraspecific Variation" is a mess. It should be rewritten, with particular attention paid to giving clear definitions to all the terms used and incorporating some of the footnotes in the main text.

22) "to use Grove's term"


23) It's a bad practice to give different arguments or options opaque names like a, b, and c, and then use these shorthands even many pages later.

24) "A 2013 editorial in the prestigious journal Nature, for example, states"

A 2013 editorial, titled "Dangerous work. Behavioural geneticists must tread carefully to prevent their research being misinterpreted", in the prestigious...

25) "spontaneous generations"

use singular

26) "effect size guidelines used in the social sciences, such as: Cohen’s d = 0.5 = modest"

"For Cohen's d an effect size of 0.2 to 0.3 might be a "small" effect, around 0.5 a "medium" effect and 0.8 to infinity, a "large" effect." (wikipedia)
John asked me to comment on this article, so here goes.


Thanks for reading it over. I made all of suggested corrections and rewrites. (In red in the .doc file) The file has been updated. I will check again later for newly introduced errors. Yes, the "Natural Divisions and Intraspecific Variation" section was confusing; thanks for letting me know.


"What's the actual basis for not considering birds as reptiles in the evolutionary taxonomic scheme? Genomic data weren't available until very recently, so the decision must have been based on phenotypic similarity/fossiles/whatever."

Prior, patterns of morphological traits were used. Traits were weighted by supposed genetic information content.
[OBG] Nature of Race, part 6: A Troublesome Inheritance?

Author: John Fuerst

Abstract: Racial constructionists, anti-naturalists, and anti-realists have challenged users of the biological race concept to provide and defend, from the perspective of biology, biological philosophy, sociology, and ethics, a biologically informed concept of race. We do this in a six part analysis. Part 6 analyzes moral-based objections to the biological race concept.

Keywords: natural division, race, biology

The article can be found here:[/align]

(There are 6 parts; each will be submitted to OBG as a separate chapter.)

[Edit (1/21/2015): Please download the latest version of the document and read it; the OSF browser version does not include the many footnotes.]
The OSF is not public.
The OSF is not public.

Thanks. Fixed.
Some comments, mostly typological, some content.

some have simply argue against certain erroneous conceptions in general

istorically unjustified requirements[b] –[/b] deep discontinuities, privileged levels, a lack of within groups variability, taxonomic category status, few in number, etc. [b]--[/b]have been out to deconstruct the very concept

This could be a case of clever sillies, of intellectuals playing word games and stretching the bounds of reason to show off their aptitude; yet, unfailing passionate advocacy argues against a clever silly hypothesis (Charlton, 2012)1. What else? The early race debate sheds light on the matter.

There is also:

The position that different human groups represented different species (that is, did not share a common ancestry)

A common ancestor?

aid in achieving this post-racial end.
When it

Scientists have a responsibility to do what they can to prevent abuses of their work

Initial space.

For HoSang (2014) biological race concepts are used to construct oppressive social structures and to legitimize racial injustice:
A cursory review of Sesardic’s (2010) [defense of the biological race concept] makes clear that Sesardic advances this argument in large part to recover and legitimate the work of scholars affiliated with the Pioneer Fund, a group founded by American Nazis and Eugenicists in 1937 that has supported some of the most infamous white supremacist research in the twentieth century: studies by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, Arthur Jensen, William Shockley, Linda Gottfredson, and Phillipe Rushton (Tucker 2002)…Sesardic develops the “genomic challenge” thesis in order to recover and legitimate intellectual claims for white supremacy....

As the case of Hsu and Sesardic make clear, the invocation of race as a scientific category has always been linked to the production and naturalization of a social hierarchy. The very substance and rationale of their inquiry is only cognizable within this implicit framework of white supremacy

Strange claims. Herrnstein was Jewish, Hsu is Asian. Why would they advocate white supremacy? What is white supremacy anyway? The brute fact that Europeans are by far the most inventive of the larger races of humans or? (Cf. Murray 2003)? If we can select smaller races, surely Ashkeanzi are the most impressive. I fail to see the big problem here.

For Appaih (1989) biological race (or at least "racialism") supports "intrinsic

Font size.

Racialism is not, in itself a doctrine that must be dangerous

Initial space.

differentiate morally between embers of different races,

gives the a moral interest in that person, so an intrinsic racist holds that the bare fact of being of the same races is a reason for preferring one person to another.

Extra space at the end.

For Kitcher (2007) biological race concepts lead to stereotyping and with it racial discrimination and, as a result, unjust inequalities:
In fact the practice [of stereotyping] is even more hideous that I have represented it as being, for a better explanation of the correlations involved past applications of racial concept...So at the root of the causal story are past practices of identifying some people by superficial characteristics, viewing them as belonging to a separate race, and, in consequence, cramping and confining their aspirations and their lives. Crude essentialist notions of race, often committed to prejudiced speculations about the "biological basis" of various cognitive and behavioral traits, have played crucial roles in these practices. Application of the notion of race is thus ultimately responsible for the correlations adduced to "defend" the current practices of stereotyping".

Maybe Kitcher should read Jussim's works. E.g. or one of the review papers/chapters.

Stereotypes help against base rate fallacies, so ignoring group level information would in fact lead to more inaccuracy of individuals.

(g) Inequality between groups, racial or otherwise, is not morally problematics, per se.

Excessive inequality might be circumstances depending.

One could – and this all has been done regarding family and religion as social formations. Such critiques not infrequently have been made – though they have not yet been extended to the use of the concepts; such thought-censoring would be a bridge too far, familiar as these ideas are.

Incoherent use of thought dashes?

while sociobiologist O.E. Wilson

E O Wilson. Sometimes, you put it the right way, sometimes the wrong way in multiple other places.

We will consider one major justifications

We will discuss the problem with argument based on inequality latter on.
Needs pl. I think.

–makes more likely the use of ethnic markers based on phenotype.

Missing space after thought dash.

Racial identity and, by way of, the race concept would not be problematic because it is made up -- because races are myths constructed willy-nilly for economic ends -- but rather because it reasonably accurately identifies – or is thought to -- genealogical divisions and because people, indeed all organisms, have evolved to be genetically selfish and, accordingly, have evolved dispositions to discriminate according to cultural and phenotypic indexes of genetic propinquity (Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1972; van den Berghe, 1981; Rushton, 1989a; Salter and Harpending, 2013)

Needs rewriting. Difficult to read with double embedded sentences.

The same argument can be made with regards to religion. Presumably, religion taps into something which does or can moves people.

HoSang’s (2014) is a frequently heard genealogical critique of the genealogical concept of race. The historical grounding, though, is nonexistent. One need not commit oneself to such an untenable position, however. The American Anthropological Association (AAA), for example, simply maintains that that “race” underwrites the “racial worldview” which is bad because it "was invented to assign some groups to perpetual low status, while others were permitted access to privilege, power, and wealth.” The AAA, in this statement, conveniently makes no distinction between “race” in the specific and intraspecific senses -- and leaves unsaid the egalitarian employment of the intraspecific race concept. While neither concept – species or subspecies --was “invented” to create social hierarchies, the AAA does not commit itself to this claim. Rather it does to the position that the “racial worldview” was. The race concept is only guilty by association. The phrase “racial worldview” seems to refer to Smedley’s (1998) concept, which is characterized as (to paraphrase):

The fallacy of concluding something about a concept or idea based on its origin (in this case, not even the true one) is known to logicians as the genetic fallacy.

The AAA’s indictment of it rests

Initial space.

We now must now consider this issue.


well turn out to be like the know class differences, substantially genetically conditioned (Rowe et al., 1998; Trzaskowski, 2014)

Drawing on a systems perspective,

Initial space.

True hereditarians would do more still. It would complicated many historical narratives. Time constraints preclude us from elaborating on this latter point.

True hereditarians? Careful about the no true Scotsman fallacy.