This paper aims to get clear on the normative implications of the idea that race is a “social construction,” not just for political practice in non-ideal societies where racial oppression remains, but in “ideal” (presumably non-racist) societies as well. That is, I pursue the question of whether race and/or racial identity would have any legitimate place in an ideally just society, or to state it another way, whether the concept of race can be extricated from the history of racial oppression from which it arose. The position I defend is a version of what has come to be called a “conservationist” view. I argue that racial identities could be normatively justified based upon modified principles of discourse (which, I argue, are appropriately applied to contexts of collective identity formation), though I do not endorse the stronger claim that racial identities are an inevitable feature of any form of social organization that societies now structured by race could aspire to, as some other conservationists claim. Moreover, I do not take conservationism to imply that future racial groups would be the same as current racial groups, a point I illustrate through an analysis of whiteness.
- collective identity,
- critical theory,
- discourse ethics,
- racial identity,
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/andrew_pierce/3/