Claims that a kind K is socially constructed play an important role in contemporary political discourse: they establish that K’s explanatory salience is due to social rather than (e.g.) biological factors. However a mainstream way of understanding the social construction of race – the view that race is essentially social – is sharply at odds with many widely held intuitions about the nature of race (see e.g. Hardimon (2017), Garcia (2019)). In this talk Franklin will defend a general account of social construction, and demonstrate that, if applied to the example of racial kinds, it can satisfy many such intuitions but nonetheless maintain that social and not biological factors are responsible for race’s role in explaining social outcomes. Franklin will go on to point out analogies between social construction and the construction of physical kinds, and suggest that my account naturalises social construction. Franklin will conclude that, first, social construction should be seen as less controversial and more generic than is often appreciated; and, second, that the debates over the metaphysics of race should be distinguished from discussions of social construction: while this paper is not committed to any particular claim about the underlying properties of racial kinds, Franklin maintains that such kinds are socially constructed.


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