Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Race, Science, Culture, Biology, Sociology, Foundation, Duster, Education

Pages: 1

Words: 275

Published: 2021/01/29

Race in Science and Culture

Historically, race has been a classification used by the scientific community. The following five essential criteria are included in the definition of race under this classification (James, 2012):

A common biological foundation exists

This foundations creates features shared by all members of the race, but which are uniquely seen in members of the race

This biological foundation is an inherited trait, passed through generations of ancestors to descendants

Study of genealogy will reveal a common racial geographic origin
Physical phenotypes, and possibly behavioral phenotypes, are common across members of the group with this inherited racial biologic foundation
Discussions of scientific inquiry including race have customarily accepted these five ideas as factual. The most simplistic regional division for the geographic racial segments included just four : black, African; yellow, Asian; red, Native American and white, European. Over time, the boundaries of racial categorization have become both more complex and more confused.
In his writing, Troy Duster (year), advances the idea that race as a measurable biological concept is always going to be intertwined with race as defined through other sociological and anthropological disciplines. He suggests that rather than fighting to extricate one point of view as independent of the others, we should accept the influences from all fields of scientific study as inevitable and unavoidable.
Race has become an issue of sociological and cultural relevance far beyond its basis as a biological trait of human beings. It originated in scientific consideration as a simple physical or genetic characteristic, observable with objectivity. Over the years, it has become a complex term fraught with layers of implied meanings. Depending on what lens you look through, you might see race as relevant in ways that could potentially be very different from another researcher’s definition. Duster says, “Race as a social construction can and does have substantial effects on how people behave.” Essentially, race is defined not by inherent biological characteristics but is defined instead through arbitrary physical characteristics designed by human beings to be inclusive or exclusive of a given racial group.
Harold Freeman (1997) agrees with this stance. His document is a collection of numerous doctors expanding their agreement as well. They acknowledge how hard sciences have existed within the framework of cultural presumptions, values and inequities. Unless a scientist can operate in a vacuum, it becomes impossible to do work outside the influence of the culture in which they live. Total scientific objectivity is weakened by preconceived ideas, or worse yet, by prejudices. Trying to conduct empirically valid research on the premise that race is solely a biologic factor, without regard to social construction, will lead to faulty data because we do not and cannot live outside our culture. Consequently, all data must be subject to interpretation within the boundaries that exist.
This reality is further complicated when you consider the blending of races that is occurring through interracial marriages and reproduction. The lines between races are becoming increasingly blurred in our racially mixed culture. This is especially problematic for any study of genetics which attempts to define populations based on race. The theory that races are biologically different is untenable, and this continues to be proven as the cultural melting pot keeps merging. Studies show that there is no evidence that races are biologically different now, nor have they ever been. Race is increasingly becoming more accepted as a social construct than a biological one.

Work Cited

Duster, Troy, “The Concept of Race in Science”
Freeman, Harold P., “The Meaning of Race in Science-Considerations for Cancer Research”, President’s Cancer Panel Meeting (April 9, 1997) National Cancer Institute: Bethesda, MD.
James, Michael, "Race", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2012/entries/race/ April 6, 2015.

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