Racisms Kwame Anthony Appiah addresses the issues of racialism, intrinsic racism, and extrensic racism in his article entitled RACISMS.
However, after analyzing Appiahs views on racism and its different forms, his views on the theoretical validity of racialism and extrinsic racism are seriously doubted. Appiah defines racialism as the view that there are essentail characteristics that allow us to classify people into distinct races, each of which shares certain traits and tendencies. On this topic, Appiah thinks that this theory, or way of categorizing people is false. He thinks that it is merely an excuse for people to practice types of racism.Among the two most distinct types of racism are intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic racism consists of people who differentiate morally between members of different races because they believe that each race has a different moral status, quite independent of the moral characteristics entailed by its racial essence. For the intrinsic racist there is no moral, intellectual, cultural, or perhaps even physical trait or act in relevancy to a member of another race that would merit equal treament.
Extrinsic racists make moral distinctions between members of other races because they believe that the racial essence entails certain morally relevant qualities. The extrinsic racists discrimintation stems from the belief that different races are different genetically, and these genetic differences constitute different treatment and expectations. Even with evidence that states otherwise, evidence that points that a person of another race is intelligent, or noble, there is nothing that can deter the extrinsic racists perceptions about those of another race. But, the extrinsic racist may in fact have friends or loved ones in that race.It is this belief that leads Appiah to believe that these individuals have a cognitive incapacity, or an inability to reason.Appiah comments early on that racialism is a false concept, or view.
His grounds for his claim is that it serves as a presupposition to two types of racism, extrinsic and intrinsic. However, he is only keeping in consideration a few results and purposes of racialism. When Appiah looks at racialism, he sees that it is a science that allows us to classify people into distinct races based on character traits and tendencies. In his perspective, this serves no further purpose but to validate racism, and that it is a concept that is false in theory.The truth of the matter is there are certain obvious differences based on race. Most apparent is skin color, and other physical characteristics like hair, eyes, lips, etc. That fact alone weakens Appiahs argument racialism is false.
This weakens Appiahs argument because when he says that racialism is false in theory, part of what he saying that either there are no traits that allow us to classify people into races. Certain physical characteristics are evident in races and allows us to classify by race. The second part of Appiahs argument regarding racialism is that racialism also classifies on character tendencies originating from race. It is generally agreed that race had no create character tendencies, morals, and actions.
However, race can indirectly play a role in the development of many characteristics. Race is becoming less of a factor as more and more people engage in racial mixed relationships. But it is a factor. Certain races are more inclined to be a part of certain cultures, with their own respective value systems. For instance, being born Chinese does not automatically make you good at kung-fu, give you more of a natural ability to draw, or a more respectable person.
However, due to the history of the chinese, and the culture behind it their are certain traits that a chinese individual would be more likely to take on.Chinese may be more likey to draw well because of calligraphy, in which every word is basically a little picture. this obviously would help to develop control over the pen. The culture of the chinese has a very heavy influence on respecting ones parents and the elderly, which would undoubtably make older individuals seem more honorable or wise. So in that case, race does indeed have an impact on character tendencies and behavior. It shows that race can have a connection to culture and upbringing, which does relate to the type of person that will develop.This is where Appiahs theory that racialism is a presupposition to to racism comes into play.
These cultural characteristics can easily be mistaken for racial characteristics. Also, none of these traits are absolute, or definate. Culture does not have the power to dictate a persons morality, behavior, and abilities, but it can influence these things. This , unfortunately, leads to stereotypes, both good and bad.
For example, it is assumed that if youre black, you have an inclination for basketball, you dance well, and you commit street robberies. Here, Appiah is correct, there are no grounds for somebody to assume this based on race, it is theoreticaly wrong, and morally wrong. There no universal law that states that if you are born black, you will be good at basketball. But, to make no prejudgement on a person, in its own twisted way, is perhaps just as wrong as to make assumptions. When we have these thoughts based on race, we are acknowledging the differences between people, and the problems with society.
Blacks are among the most recent group in our society to establish themselves as equal. They suffer strongly from others racist beliefs, and are often percieved to be people they are not. When we are walking down the street at night, if we have the option to walk past a black man, and a white man, chances are well walk past the white man, because there is a racist perception of blacks being more inclined to do something violent to us. This belief holds down blacks, and other minorities, and can prevent them from getting the opportuinities to improve their lives.
This in turn may put minorities in a position where they have to focus on increasing their physical abilities, to excel in a sport to get what they want, or it may make crime a more viable solution. This then creates an opportunity for those who are racist to strengthen their racist beliefs.They pay no attention to any of the good deeds or qualities, as Appiah has mentioned in his extrinsic racism theory, but they seem to pay attention to the bad. Also, it can be said that there is some theoretical truth to extrinsic racism. Appiah argues that extrinsic racism is theoretically and morally wrong. There are not too many rational people who will argue that any type of racism is right, so there is a general consensus of agreement there. However, Appiahs definition is a bit vague on how extrinsic racism is theoretically wrong in relating genetic coding to intellectual and moral traits.
What about genetic defects? There are some diseases or genetic anomalies that are more prevalent in some races than others. If there was a genetic mutation that affects thinking, perhaps some form of retardation or down syndrome, are we to regard that as extrinsic racism? This would be a case in which intelligence would undoubtably be affected by genetics. Also, it is controversial whether intelligence affects morality. Can a man who is not aware, or is mentally unable to be aware of his moral obligations be held accountable for moral crimes? These are all questions that Appiah leaves open to judgement when with his statement that extrinsic racism is theoretically false.
Obviously, there can be differences that affect intelligence, and perhaps even morality by genetics. These instances are not the norm, but they are possibilties.It can be agreed with Appiah that all forms of racism are morally wrong, and there are different forms of racism.However, Appiahs arguments that the different forms of racism and racialism are theoretically wrong, or impossible, are unsound and leave open too much room for questioning. However, Appiahs views opens the question that if racism is so widely accepted as morally wrong, what keeps us all committing acts of racism?Is it fear, or is it a need to feel superior? Or is it just a flaw in human logic? Philosophy Essays.