Cross-cultural Research, Evolutionary Psychology, and Racialism: Problems and Prospects

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Philosophy and Theory in Biology, ISSN: 1949-0739, Vol: 8, Issue: 20170609

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Jackson, Jr., John P.
University of Michigan Library, Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library
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Philosophers defending evolutionary/cognitive accounts of racialism argue that cross-cultural psychological research has discovered similar patterns of racial reasoning around the globe. Such research, they hold, simultaneously supports the existence of an underlying cognitive mechanism for essentialist thinking while undercutting social constructionist accounts of racialism. I argue that they are mistaken for two reasons. First, evolutionary/cognitive researchers are unfamiliar with constructionist accounts of global racialism which explain similarities and differences in racialism. Second, evolutionary/cognitive accounts that make cross-cultural claims shoulder probative obligations for showing the independence of the cultures being compared, and these obligations have not been met. I argue that further evolutionary/cognitive research on racialism must account for constructionist models of global racialism while meeting the argumentative obligations of cross-cultural research.

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