Re: What Are the Race Deniers Denying?

Eric Falkenstein (
18 Nov 1996 02:55:49 GMT

I think this thread often hits a similar slippery slope argument.
The argument is this:

There are many mixed race people. These people cannot be
classified as black or white or anything else. Thus the
distinction is invalid.

I don't agree with this argument. Ricard Feynman mockingly told
tales of philosophers who would delve into "what is a chair?", noting
that some molecules on the chair are really dust or accumulated dirt
and not the chair, and that millions of the molecules of the "original
chair" go off into the atmosphere all the time. Philophers who reject
the concept of a "chair" continue to publish, but the concept of a
chair for most people is meaningful and useful.

A separate confusion exists on the following:

Classification based other single characteristics are more
informative, therefore race is not a useful classification.

To this point I am somewhat sympathetic: to the extent we find new
classifications that yield meaningful information, all the better. But
as long as standard race classifications--bad as they are--yield a
systematically biased residual term (i.e., they seem to explain a
dependent variable even when accounting for all other explanatory
variables), race will continue to be an important classification.

On a separate note, I would guess that most people who deny the
existence of classification based on current notions of race support
affirmative action based on these same classifications (this hypothesis
is totally without proof, but probably true nonetheless).

Eric F