Race and Racial Cognition

Daniel Kelly, Edouard Machery and Ron Mallon

in The Moral Psychology Handbook

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199582143
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191594496 | DOI:
Race and Racial Cognition

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This chapter argues that current work on racial cognition is relevant to many of philosophers' concerns about race. It first examines several positions within the philosophy of race, pointing out where facts about the psychology of race could have an impact upon the feasibility of reform proposals offered by philosophers. It then reviews two relatively separate sets of psychological literature. The first shows that the content of racial thought is not a simple product of one's social environment, but is also shaped by the operation of certain evolved psychological mechanisms. After drawing out implications of this work for several types of proposals made by philosophers, it turns to the question of racial evaluation. Recent studies suggest that implicit racist biases can exist and influence behavior even in persons sincerely professing tolerant or even anti-racist views, and that implicit racial evaluations can be insulated in important ways from more explicitly held beliefs. The chapter then argues that these findings bear on the feasibility of proposals made in the philosophical literature on race, and may be useful in shaping novel proposals.

Keywords: racism; eliminativism; conservationism; racial categorization; social reform; implicit attitudes; implicit association test; modern racism scale; prejudice; weapon bias

Chapter.  17332 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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