Blacks in Philosophy

Recently at Daily Nous, Justin W. posted on the fact that the percentage of blacks in professional philosophy lags behind the percentage of blacks that make up the American population. In the title of the post, he calls this a problem—‘Diversity in Philosophy: Is the Problem Lack of Pre-College Exposure?’. Justin W. summarizes the situation succinctly (and the study from which he pulls the data is here):

…though blacks in the U.S. make up over 13% of the general population, they make up just 1.32 percent of the total number of people professionally affiliated (as grad students or faculty) with U.S. philosophy departments. Approximately 0.88 percent of U.S. philosophy Ph.D. students are black, and approximately 4.3 percent of U.S. tenured philosophy professors are black.

The purpose of W’s post is to ask what the cause of the lag might be, but I will set that issue aside and ask whether W is justified in calling it a problem.

So, why think that a lack of blacks in professional philosophy is a problem? One thought is that the cause is racism—blacks are hired at a lower rate because of unjustified biases against them. If this is the cause, then clearly the profession faces a serious moral problem. But, I doubt that this is the cause, especially since most departments strongly desire to make admissions and hires that increase the numbers of minorities in the profession. At any rate, this is an empirical matter, and simply noting that the number of blacks in professional philosophy is low will not suffice to show that racism is the cause. As things stand, we must first establish that racism is the primary cause before concluding that the numbers issue is a problem because of racism.

Another reason to think that the low numbers of blacks in philosophy is a problem is that perhaps the profession suffers from not having more blacks. People who believe this are likely to point to standpoint epistemology to support their claim. As a fix to the alleged problem of implicit bias, standpoint epistemology emphasizes the importance of including people from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in a profession. Outsiders, they argue, will shed light on the blind spots of the in-group. But, even if we accept the validity of standpoint epistemology, it’s difficult to see how it would help with philosophy. How would being white or black affect one’s thinking about the Ship of Theseus, or consequentialism? It seems like it wouldn’t.

Applied ethics and philosophy of science might be areas of exception. A black man might have a different perspective on the ethical status of affirmative action policies, for instance. This suggests that it might be pragmatically wise for philosophy to increase the presence of minority groups in the profession. Perhaps, in certain sub-disciplines of philosophy, increasing the number of blacks would help the discipline overcome certain views that it is biased against.

A third reason that the low numbers of blacks in philosophy might be a problem is that perhaps departments are less effective at teaching black students than they would be if there were more black professors. Black professors, the thought goes, are more capable of relating to, and empathizing with, black students. Again though, this is a pragmatic reason, and no one has established that black students stop studying philosophy because they have issues with their non-black professors. If the problem is a pragmatic one, it is surprising, given the amount of hand-wringing over the issue in some circles. I would have thought that labeling the phenomenon a problem suggested that there was an ethical issue here.

Even if the lack of blacks in philosophy is a problem, I wonder if it is a problem for philosophy, and not the academy more generally. What is the percentage of black professors and graduate students across the university? Is it below the percentage of blacks that make up the American population? These are empirical questions to which I do not know the answer, but my suspicion is that we would find the same phenomenon at the university level as we do in philosophy.

And, suppose we find disparities of groups in other departments. Suppose, as seems probable, gender study departments have a higher number of women than men, or African American study departments have a fewer number of Asian Americans than the percentage that Asian Americans make up of the American population. Is this a problem for those fields? It seems, on pain of consistency, we should say it is.

Walter Montgomery

Walter is a philosophy graduate student in New Hampshire. He sometimes wishes he was a lawyer, and other times wishes he was a basketball coach. Some of his favorite childhood memories involve traveling with his immediate family, grandparents, and cousins’ family in big gas-guzzling vans towing campers. He sees philosophy as a tool for getting at Truth, and thinks too many contemporary philosophers see it as a tool for advancing their ideological preferences.

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34 Comments

  1. Yes. The general idea that it’s a “problem” if the demographics of a field don’t represent those of the general population is a bizarre idea that no person with common sense would take seriously. It ignores the overwhelmingly obvious differences in preference and ability among different groups of people. It seems to be a version of one of the fundamental leftist/utopian blunders: thinking that everyone is the same.

    • Glad you agree Mr. Ferox. It does, indeed, seem to be an instance of leftists thinking that everyone is the same. With time, perhaps sense can be brought back!

  2. Given the reality of race in America, and particularly of the relations between black people and white people in America today and for the last few hundred years, why would you think that you’d get anywhere in thinking about why the lag might be a problem if you set aside considerations of the cause of the lag?

    The reality of race in America — its enslavement, subjugation, oppression and dehumanisation of black people in ways that socially disadvantage them in participation in disciplines like philosophy up to today, to take some things that are particularly relevant to this discussion — presents a prima facie case for there being a problem with those figures. Under that case, it would be a problem for American philosophy because it’s a problem for the academy and society in which American philosophy is situated, and because American philosophy is not exceptional in this regard.

    Who knows what the benefits of having more black people in American philosophy might be? Maybe there’ll be none. Maybe there won’t be anything distinctive about those black people. Maybe they’ll think and talk like the whites they’re surrounded by, except in a superficial area or two like the ones you highlighted.

    Or maybe they won’t. At the very least, maybe they’ll ask why virtually every introduction to the history of an idea begins with the Greeks and follows the development of the idea through other white people, and, lacking the warm feeling of ownership that I suspect white people get from those stories, help make American philosophy less parochial — or, rather, remind American philosophers that there are (and always have been) lots of non-whites in their parish.

  3. Kamal,
    This is a great question:

    “Why would you think that you’d get anywhere in thinking about why the lag might be a problem if you set aside considerations of the cause of the lag?”

    We can’t have a rational discussion about whether the very low numbers of blacks in philosophy should be considered a problem unless we first consider why these numbers are very low. Whether it’s a problem, or how serious a problem it might be, depends in part on what we take to be the cause of black ‘under-representation’. But you seem to be assuming (like most people do nowadays) that we already know “the cause of the lag”, that the cause is slavery or Jim Crow or ‘systemic racism’ or stereotype threat, or some combination of these things–or, anyway, some cause that ultimately comes down to some unfair damaging things that white people did. For brevity, let’s call these kinds of theories ‘WF’ theories (for ‘Whitey’s fault). But how do you know this? Consider an alternative hypothesis:

    (A) Blacks, on the whole, are naturally much less capable or interested or motivated than whites, on the whole, with respect to cognitively demanding disciplines like philosophy.

    Is there any reason to think that A is less probable than the WF theories? I grant that there’s some ‘prima facie’ reason for accepting a WF theory given the facts you mention, such as slavery. Other things being equal, it’s reasonable enough to suppose that a group that’s been enslaved might well be disadvantaged in ways that would lead to ‘under-representation’. But in order to assess WF more fully we have to take into account all the relevant facts, and when we do that the prima facie case seems pretty weak. After all, blacks lived largely in isolation for tens of thousands of years without ever developing philosophy or science or literature. There’s only one example of a sub-Saharan written language, as far as I know. Why is that? And, of course, lots of groups have been enslaved or oppressed for centuries. But many of those groups also produced lots of philosophers, even when they were racial or ethnic minorities in some large nation or empire. Why is that? Other facts to consider: for as long as we’ve been doing IQ tests, and all over the world, there is a major gap between black and white IQ. Why is that? When all the facts have to be taken into account, it’s not too plausible that any WF theory can do this without being super-complex and ad hoc. And what’s wrong with A? Do we have some prior knowledge that all racial groups are exactly the same in their mental abilities and interests and motivations? But in order to conclude that black ‘under-representation’ is really a problem, you need good reasons for believing that some WF theory is at least as probable as hypothesis A. I think no one has those kinds of reasons.

    • I can give you my reasons for thinking that Black Intellectual Inferiority (BII) isn’t as plausible an explanation for explaining “all the relevant facts” as White Sin (WS). Or maybe I should say my one reason, because they boil down to one main thing: the White Perspective (WP). (That name’s a bit unfair to the many white people whose perspectives aren’t in this neighbourhood. I’m hoping they’ll understand and forgive the label given what I’m about to say.)

      That’s the perspective that still wonders if black Africa has a history because very little of that history occurs in forms that WP is accustomed to studying. It would, for the purposes of this debate, define ‘philosophy’ not in the expansive or fundamental sense that you hear philosophers use when they’re justifying their subject to their publics (y’know, the “Have you thought about whether your life has a purpose? Then you’ve done philosophy.” type), but to mean something like “in the tradition of Greeks like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle (and maybe also the traditions of Confucius and a specified few other non-black-non-whites)”. It readily expands its meaning of “science” beyond the historically recent mode of discovery and body of knowledge to include the ancient Greeks, but only includes the contributions of the Islamic world in a few paragraphs or footnotes if pressed, so why would it take a second look at what science the black people without history got up to before the white people brought them civilisation?

      It feigns ignorance at how infrequently written language was independently invented, the material conditions under which it happened, and the ways in which it spread. To reduce White Guilt for White Sin, it elides the complexities of the thousands of ways in which humans have enslaved and oppressed other humans. It creates an ‘objective’ measure of intelligence tuned so that white men are the norm, and tuned again so that white women join white men in that norm, but reasons it’s fine for that measure to say the races to be different because Look!, it says East Asians are smarter than white people! (Rather than it’s okay if those are the results because, say, this measure was developed over the decades by psychologists sufficiently aware of the variety of human conceptions of intelligence.)

      That’s on the contents of BII. I’d also say two things on the form of BII vs WS:

      1. Even if weren’t looking at all this through the warped lens of WP, it would still be the case that you’re waving your hand at supposed general trends of thousands of years of history. WS is usually much more focussed and evidenced than that. In most forms that most people encounter it, it’s about WS in this place — so White Sin in the USA or White Sin in Antigua or White Sin in South Africa — over a much shorter, better known period of history, at most since the early 16th century. Its most expansive forms (White Sin against black people, or White Sin against Amerindians, etc) are also more focussed and evidenced than BII.

      2. You’re lifting the categories ‘black’ and ‘white’ from their applications for WS (for which they’re at home, though not always comfortably so) and letting those categories guide your inquiry for diverse groups of people 1) who in most cases didn’t think of themselves as belonging to anything resembling a unified group, much less one with that label, and 2) who we today tend not to think as belonging to a unified group.

      My perspective has its flaws too, of course. But on this issue, which perspective seems to have a more correct view of the truth?

  4. It seems like rational discourse on this topic is as difficult as having rational discourse on homosexuality. It feels off-limits if it doesn’t match the PC narrative, and quickly descends into emotive charges of “hate”, “bigotry”, etc.

  5. Hi Kamal,
    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I’m going to address two points that (I think) you’re making. First, you say that I’m ‘lifting’ the categories of white and black from a certain context or perspective and then imposing these categories onto groups of people who (1) didn’t really think of themselves as belonging to two such ‘unified’ groups and who (2) ‘we today’ don’t think of as belonging to ‘unified’ groups. I’m not sure what you mean by this or why it’s important.

    Blacks and whites are biologically distinct groups: they diverged genetically at least 60,000 years ago. Blacks are ‘unified’ by shared ancestry, biology, history and culture; whites are ‘unified’ by a different ancestry, biology, history and culture. This kind of ‘unity’ is important because it could well be an explanation for average differences in personality and intellectual ability (just as it plainly does explain many morphological and other differences). I’d be shocked to learn that this way of thinking is new or even that it’s uncommon today, but it doesn’t matter how popular it was or is; what matters is that it’s rational, empirically grounded, and suggests a viable hypothesis other than ‘White people are being mean’ or whatever. (Maybe you only meant to say that people don’t think that all blacks are ‘unified’ in being exactly the same, or that all whites are exactly the same; sure, and if that’s all you had in mind, I agree, but I don’t see how this is relevant to the issue under discussion.)

    Second thing: You’re claiming that people like me are operating with a biased (racist) perspective when assessing the intellectual achievements or history of sub-Saharan Africa. I have two replies to this kind of argument. One is that blacks themselves seem to have the same conception of intelligence and intellectual achievement as whites. Most Africans or black Americans would surely agree with me (and pretty much everyone, I think) that planes, skyscrapers and machine guns represent far greater intellectual achievements than dugout canoes, mud huts and spears. Likewise, I’d be very surprised if any intelligent and well-informed black person really believed that some collection of African proverbs or the latest book from Ta-Nehisi Coates or the writings of Martin Luther King is just as philosophically impressive as the works of Plato or Kant or Nietzsche. The white perspective on these things seems to be just the human perspective or the rational perspective.

    My other reply is that it’s not really relevant to the issue under discussion whether there is some white or European perspective on intellectual ability or achievement that differs from the black or African one. If a student in my class can’t understand Plato’s arguments, or can’t come up with any kind of critical response, he’s not going to do well in the course. If someone can’t follow complex chains of deduction he’s not going to write a publishable paper on external world skepticism or mental causation or compatibilism. Now if it turns out that such people are doing something else that counts as really great under some entirely different set of norms, well, good for them! They should go do their own thing somewhere other than a philosophy department in our western civilization. But we who do care a lot about Plato or ‘western’ logic or interpreting Heidegger are under no obligation to throw out _our_ standards just so that these other people can be ‘included’ in our discipline. Not unless there’s some reason for thinking that their alien standards are actually _better_ than ours or, at least, just as good. And if the reason for their alien standards has something to do with the fact that they’re black, I don’t see why that should make any difference.

    We have no obligation to destroy our discipline and ignore the standards that make sense to us just because other people, with standards we find weird and bad, are not able to do the kinds of things we care about. Black under-representation in our discipline is not a problem unless blacks who are just as good as whites when impartially assessed under those norms are being unfairly excluded. Of course there’s zero evidence of that. If anything, the argument from alien standards seems to encourage some kind of amicable separation rather than more forced integration of groups with such different world-views. Let a hundred flowers bloom; don’t tear up the many rare and special flowers that white people have been tending for thousands of years. But, again, I don’t believe that blacks or Africans or anyone else seriously doubts that the intellectual achievements of white Europeans are mind-blowingly superior on the whole to anything that black Africans have done. So this second line of argument is probably overkill.

    • Jacques,

      The labels ‘black’ and ‘white’ in this context were created by whites to describe an obvious physiological difference between people from sub-Saharan Africa and people from Europe. (Though most black people are more brown than black and most white people are more pink than white, but I digress….) They persist in English today because they were useful in the English-speaking Americas for both describing people on two different sides of a slavery-defined class system and for reinforcing that system. It started breaking down by the time (and maybe before) those two groups started mixing. It continued to suffer additional strain when a greater variety of ‘whites’ moved to the Americas. Today, the 2010 US Census’ brief on the White Population defines whites in this way:

      According to OMB, “White” refers to a person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.

      The White racial category includes people who marked the “White” checkbox. It also includes respondents who reported entries such as Caucasian or White; European entries, such as Irish, German, and Polish; Middle Eastern entries, such as Arab, Lebanese, and Palestinian; and North African entries, such as Algerian, Moroccan, and Egyptian.

      I suspect you find that definition too expansive. I don’t think I’ve ever quoted it to a white person who didn’t think so.

      I also suspect you won’t be arguing that Algerians, Palestinians, Greeks, Scots, Poles and Russians share ancestry, biology, history orculture (much less all of those things). And even on a narrower definition of white — say a European-only one — it’s difficult to argue that the Portuguese, Brits, Greeks, Germans and Finns really share those things, as anyone who’s observed the European Union’s bickering for the last few years over the Euro, immigration and Brexit would know.

      All of that is probably doubly true of black Africa, which is at least as geographically and climatically as diverse as Europe (which is relevant for considerations on environmental pressures on genetic variation; I couldn’t find any information on actual measures of human genetic variation by continent in the few minutes I spent Googling it), and had nothing like the Roman empire or Christian Church to give them a (somewhat) shared history or culture.

      Which brings me to your second point. Yes, many of the intellectual achievements of white people are extremely impressive. And yes, considered as a body across the disciplines, they’re probably more impressive than that of any other racial group. (That’s even more true if you apply the US Census’ definition of ‘white’ and count the achievements of the Islamic world.) And yes yes, all other racial groups share significant amounts of your conceptions of intelligence and wealth and success and beauty and value and the good life and dozens of other things.

      But we don’t share those because they’re better. We share them mostly because, as a group, you seem to be wealthy and powerful, while the rest of us, as groups, are not as much. And no, you aren’t more wealthy and powerful because you’re smarter or whatever. You’re more wealthy and powerful because you spent a few centuries from around 1492 plundering and enslaving and raping and destroying other civilisations, and we’re currently living under an international order written and underwritten by the US (a particularly powerful, mostly white country) and its mostly white allies. But this paragraph digresses.

      And that doesn’t mean that when your psychologists sit down and try to work out how to measure intelligence in general (as opposed to intelligence as required for an American psychologist or physicist or economist) that they’ll be any better at doing so than your economists are at understanding economies in general (as opposed to economies like ours which, hey, they aren’t even that good at understanding! :D). I wasn’t saying that black conceptions of smart and white conceptions of smart might be so different that they’re not even trying to describe the same thing. I assumed that they were trying to describe the same thing. I was saying that the white (American) perspective on intelligence — like anyone’s perspective on history or economics or other things like that — suffers from blind-spots and other defects of vision such that, at the very least, other people need to have significant contributions for there to be confidence that they’re describing anything more than just the white (American) perspective on intelligence.

      It also doesn’t mean that because Plato’s writings are philosophy and much of the Talmud is philosophy and Confucius’ sayings are philosophy and Frantz Fanon’s writings are philosophy (and to that maybe we can add the writings of novelists like Charlotte Bronte and Toni Morrison) then they’re all the same kind of philosophy. Maybe sensible comparisons as to which is more “philosophically impressive” can be done, but no comparison that just assumes Plato’s writings as the standard would qualify as a sensible one, and I’m sure I don’t actually need to tell you that many non-whites would probably not agree that the white perspective on that is “just the human perspective or the rational perspective”.

      Finally, you’re well within your rights to draw some boundaries and say, “When we talk about academic philosophy we mean things sufficiently like these white guys’.” The trouble for you there isn’t so much what Africans in Africa or South Asians in South Asia or East Asians in East Asia might say to that; it’s easy enough for you to ignore them, and besides they’re not part of your western civilisation. (Again, I don’t think that white people are smarter than black people, or that you’ll have to change your standards of rigour to open up philosophy for non-whites.) The trouble for you is that your western civilisation is no longer just white, so your philosophy, as interested in the truth as it says it is, ought not continue as though it were.

  6. Kamal,
    You’re right, I’d say Palestinians and Algerians aren’t white. No one really thinks they are, but US GOV misdefines ‘white’ to confuse us and suppress the rate of our ethnic cleansing. Maybe they managed to confuse some immigrants too, so they checked a box. (Or maybe they didn’t get the memo that whites are evil and uncool.) Palestinians and Algerians are Caucasians, but not whites.

    You wrote: “I also suspect you won’t be arguing that Algerians, Palestinians, Greeks, Scots, Poles and Russians share ancestry, biology, history orculture (much less all of those things).” Well, clearly all of these groups are far more closely related to each other biologically than Zulus or Bantus. That’s just true, and explains the physiological similarities and differences that you note. I look a lot more like a Palestinian than a Zulu. They also create broadly similar cultures when compared with the cultures of blacks, but I allow there’s room for quibbling over some details and marginal cases. It doesn’t really matter.

    What matters is just that whites and blacks have radically different evolutionary histories. Virtually no members or sub-groups within the ‘white’ group were breeding with any members or sub-groups within the ‘black’ group for at least 60,000 years. (This would be true and very important even if these groups had no internal ‘unity’ at all.) Why is it reasonable to assume that groups related in this way would end up having the same natural intelligence or interests or philosophical capacity? Why is that more reasonable than the theory that these races differ naturally in intelligence, when we can observe that they’ve always behaved very differently for thousands of years, that one race has produced advanced, complex civilizations while the other has produced almost nothing worth mentioning? My original claim is that no one has any good reason for the belief that blacks and whites are natural intellectual equals. And I still don’t see that you’ve offered any good reason for that belief. Am I missing something?

    • I’m sympathetic to a lot of what you’re saying about the reality of racial differences, but you go too far in my view and show overly nerdy preferences. You have too narrow a conception of what has value, culturally. Too scientistic maybe. Don’t you like music? Even if you don’t like black music as much as white music, you really have to admit that black music is amazing, and if you don’t, you’re just a spaz who doesn’t get it.

  7. “You’re more wealthy and powerful because you spent a few centuries from around 1492 plundering and enslaving and raping and destroying other civilisations”

    This is just silly. First of all, how can something that happened around 1492 explain facts about white achievement and black lack of achievement for thousands of years prior to that time? Second, the ability to plunder, enslave and destroy is itself evidence of superior intellectual abilities; it’s not an alternative to the hypothesis that whites are naturally superior in that way. How did we bad white people end up with ocean-spanning ships and navigation abilities, or the weapons and strategies that enabled a few hundred Spaniards to bring down the Incan Empire? Third, white Europeans have been the _victims_ of rape, enslavement and plunder for thousands of years. Millions of whites have been enslaved by Arabs and Jews, for example, far more than the numbers of blacks enslaved by whites. We were fighting off Arab Muslim and Asiatic savages for centuries and centuries. And yet we didn’t end up thinking that Muslims or Mongols were intellectual or civilizational superiors during that time.

    The reason why people think that skyscrapers and vaccines and computers and rockets that go to the moon are evidence of high intelligence and other impressive traits is just that these things are so impressive. It’s obviously not _just_ that mean white people weren’t fair for a while in the distant past. Come on. Even if no one had ever conquered anyone in the history of our species, everyone would still have thought that it takes more brains to make skyscrapers than mud huts. Everyone would wonder about groups that produced only mud huts. I mean, no human group is so stupid that they wouldn’t appreciate the difference.

  8. “no comparison that just assumes Plato’s writings as the standard would qualify as a sensible one”–But we don’t “just assume” this. Just as we don’t “just assume” that it takes more intellectual power to build a super-computer as opposed to a mud hut. We read Plato, and we compare his ideas and contributions to others. Do you honestly think Toni Morrison or Martin Luther King is just as great as Plato _as a philosopher_? In the same ballpark, even? If you really honestly believe that after making a good faith comparison, we live in different universes and there’s no basis for rational discussion.

    “I’m sure I don’t actually need to tell you that many non-whites would probably not agree that the white perspective on that is ‘just the human perspective or the rational perspective’.”–I think they do agree. Look at their behavior. When Japanese or Chinese are creating their own societies, what do they imitate? Do they try to copy African villages or European cities? Fanon didn’t get anything important from Africans. Have an honest talk with a Chinese or Pakistani about black Americans. Heck, have an honest talk with a Nigerian.

    “The trouble for you is that your western civilisation is no longer just white, so your philosophy, as interested in the truth as it says it is, ought not continue as though it were.”–The truth is rather that western civilization is much smaller than it used to be, that its institutions are controlled by a hostile elite. Detroit is not part of western civilization. Much of London or Paris isn’t either. Non-whites don’t have any allegiance to our civilization. They know it’s not theirs and they’ll never really belong. They’re mostly vultures circling a bit of carrion. I agree it’s a problem, though. I have hope we can still fix it.

  9. “The truth is rather that western civilization is much smaller than it used to be, that its institutions are controlled by a hostile elite. Detroit is not part of western civilization. Much of London or Paris isn’t either. Non-whites don’t have any allegiance to our civilization.”

    You appear to be defining western civilization just as white civilization. Is that right? If so the argument is less interesting.
    Detroit sure seems like it’s a part of western civilization. A part where western civilization has gone off the rails but still a part.

    “Non-whites don’t have allegiance to our civilization.”

    If that’s a universal generalization it’s obviously false. And even if it’s not a universal generalization their are degrees of allegiance and parts of western civilization about which there is allegiance.

    • Well, it’s not a stipulative definition but a kind of definition–an understanding of what the west just is and always was. The west is the homeland for a group of white peoples. No Africans or Pakistanis or Koreans are native to the west. Western civilization is the civilization of those white peoples, developed by them over millenia. The role of non-whites in this civilization, even today, is negligible.

      Detroit seems like a part of western civilization? Let’s be precise here. Everything about Detroit that seems western or civilized was put there by whites during the time when Detroit had a huge white population. In the same sense, you could say that Capetown “sure seems like it’s a part of western civilization”. When whites go somewhere they often build outposts of civilization. But to the extent that Detroit is now non-white, and African, it seems more like the new ‘democratic’ South Africa or Zimbabwe or other such typically African hellholes–almost totally lawless, astoundingly violent, with corruption and incompetence everywhere. Nothing works, nothing gets fixed, no one much cares except whites coming in from outside. Take away white European residual influences and Detroit would be a bunch of mud huts within a century.

      It’s true in general that on the whole and for the most part non-whites have no allegiance to the west. Obviously there are individual exceptions but we’re speaking at a general level here. Non-whites come to our countries because they want to take what we have, or because it’s just nicer here, or whatever. They don’t come because they’re loyal to us our civilization or even our political-philosophical principles. Obama admitted in one of his books that he couldn’t really identify with the glories of Europe; it didn’t feel like his civilization. and that’s because it just isn’t. Muslims in Europe don’t identify in any real or healthy way with Europe. How could they? Blacks have been in the US for all these centuries and they are probably less allied to the west than they were as slaves.

      • Forgive me if you’ve already discussed some of this above (I’ve been really busy and haven’t been keeping up).

        The West in most conversations includes Spain and Portugal. There is Western Christendom which extended to northern Africa. I find it odd to think of the West as strictly white. I know you said that was not a stipulate definition, rather a kind of definition, but what kind? Was Augustine a Westerner? Is Thomas Sowell?

      • Right AR-15. Also, there is no reason whatever for thinking that Western civilization cannot be extended beyond whites to include others (as it does now), even if, as a causal-historical matter, it started entirely with them (a dubious claim in itself, given the absolutely crucial part Christianity has played in defining Western civilization).

  10. I agree that the west includes Spain. Are you suggesting Spaniards aren’t white? I’m not sure what you have in mind. Yes, Thomas Sowell is part of the west. The whiteness of the west doesn’t imply (in my way of thinking) that there can’t be some small number of non-whites who participate in western civilization. We’re speaking at a high level of generality here. What I’m saying can be put more precisely as follows:

    (1) The most basic and important distinctive features of the west are expressions of distinctive traits of white western Europeans; (2) Only when those people are the vast majority of the population can a society instantiate and carry forward western civilization; (3) Others, considered as large groups, can’t identify with western civilization in the deep lasting way needed to carry forward that civilization.

    I think this is fairly obvious. In the same way, we don’t expect that you could replace the black population of th US with a bunch of Amerinds without also replacing the culture of US blacks. We don’t expect that flooding Japan with blacks would be compatible with the survival of Japanese culture. Replacing whites with blacks in Detroit has meant replacing Europe with Africa.

    I don’t fault non-whites for failing to identify with the west in a deep way. It’s only natural. People identify with their parents and ancestors. Especially when the alien-ness of another group is obvious just from their faces and bodies. A normal black person is not going to look at ancient Greco-Roman art and think “These are my people, this is my heritage”. This may be one reason why so few blacks go into philosophy apart from aptitude.

    Blacks are admirable in some ways for insisting on the plain fact that they are not us. They make their own music (some of it profoundly beautiful). They vote Democrat as a bloc because they put black interests first. They don’t even see this as an issue. If Obama had been a fascist and a member of the NRA they’d still all have voted for him. Blacks are under no illusions about what western civilization is. Neither are Asians or Mestizos or Jews. Only high IQ whites with believe in race-neutral forms of society.

    Look at how Kamal described the west: he says we’re guilty of world-historical sins against everyone else, and that “your psychologists” invented IQ tests to rationalize white supremacy, etc. I don’t know whether he’s black but these are typical attitudes among non-whites if you scratch the surface. How could someone with these views identify with the west or be loyal to it? The only way to include people with these attitudes is by destroying the west and replacing it with some new thing encoding their anti-western values, which is what we’re really doing. The collapse of intellectual standards is one symptom, e.g. pretending that a glib dummy like Coates is a deep thinker.

    • Yes, Jacques, I’m black.

      (1) The most basic and important distinctive features of the west are expressions of distinctive traits of white western Europeans; (2) Only when those people are the vast majority of the population can a society instantiate and carry forward western civilization; (3) Others, considered as large groups, can’t identify with western civilization in the deep lasting way needed to carry forward that civilization.

      What are “the most basic and important distinctive features of the west?” What are the “distinctive traits of white western Europeans”?

      In what sense can there be said to be a European civilization or European culture when Europe isn’t unified by language, ancestry, or culture, and where the centuries-old unifying institution of the church (setting aside the quibbles of the Great Schism, the Reformation, and the realities of the national churches for the moment) has only recently been replaced by the extremely fragile and not-entirely-pan-European institutions of the European Union? (You can double-up that question by replacing “European” with “western”, replacing “Europe” with “the west”, and dropping the part about the EU.)

      And, from the other side, on what basis do you deny membership of western civilization to, say, Barbadians? They’re arguably civilisationally and culturally more like white Britons and Americans than any eastern or southern European country (excepting maybe Portugal, Spain, and Italy). Why doesn’t their society instantiate and carry forward western civilisation?

  11. Ideal Observer,
    I agree that Western civilization can “include others”, i.e., non-whites or non-westerners, in some sense. France can still be France, and a part of the West, even if 1% of its population is Arab. This is not worth arguing about, but also has little to do with this debate. We’re being told by our rulers and authorities that we should reject all white racial consciousness and identity (except when our racial shame and guilt benefits others). We’re being told we should admit millions upon millions of high fertility non-whites with solid racial-cultural identities and loyalties of their own. The real question is whether Western civilization can be extended to “include others” under conditions like these ones: Can it still be the West when whites aren’t a majority or a dominant minority? If you mean to say that there is “no reason whatever” for thinking the answer to this question is “No” then you’re just wrong on this point.

    Detroit is a reason. Chicago is a reason. The behavior of blacks during Hurricane Katrina is evidence. Their behavior in South Africa or Zimbabwe is evidence. More generally, we notice a consistent pattern: wherever you have black majorities and/or black political power, you get vastly increased violence, corruption, dysfunction, ‘bad schools’, etc. The fact that blacks (and many other groups) have never produced literature, science, technology or architecture even roughly comparable to the achievements of Western civilization is also evidence. The fact that so many blacks (and others) have always IQs far below the threshold for competent work in science or philosophy or engineering is evidence. The fact that human beings tend to be tribal, tend to identify with the norms and traditions of their ancestors, is evidence. Even if there were no other obstacles, it’s implausible that a million Amerinds or Aborigines replacing white Europeans would tend to identify with the legacy of ancient Greece or the Holy Roman Empire in place of the stories and norms and ancestors.

    Often these debatesget bogged down because people have irrational default beliefs and refuse to reconsider these. In my original post I asked a question: Why is it supposed to be _more probable_ that black under-representation in philosophy is due to racism or some other purely environmental factor instead of some natural racial difference? Unless that is our default belief, there’s no reason for thinking that black under-representation in philosophy is a problem. So far no one has really offered any answer to that question. Kamal claims that people like me are biased, for example, but even if that were true how could that justify the strange assumption that races separated for 60,000 years or more would end up having identical mental traits? No one can provide an argument for that assumption, because in reality there is no credible argument. If the available evidence suggests any conclusion at all, that will be the ‘racist’ conclusion that there are natural differences here. Faced with my question, people offer _excuses_ for the evidence. They tell stories about bias or oppression or multiple intelligences or whatever–stories that would serve, at most, to show how the evidence could be just the way it is even if the races were indeed mentally identical. But even if we can dispel the evidence that seems to support my ‘racist’ hypothesis, that’s still no reason whatever for thinking that the default belief in mental sameness is actually true. I’ll ask again: Is there any reason for thinking the default egalitarian belief is true, as opposed to objections to the reasons I’ve offered against it?

  12. Jacques, I’ll state and restate my position, hopefully seeming to answer you directly this time.

    You ask,

    Why is it supposed to be _more probable_ that black under-representation in philosophy is due to racism or some other purely environmental factor instead of some natural racial difference?

    You include as evidence for the natural racial difference the “fact that blacks (and many other groups)” — by which I guess you mean many other racial groups, though I suspect that your evidence won’t bode well for non-racial groups like ‘women’ — “have never produced literature, science, technology or architecture even roughly comparable to the achievements of Western civilization is also evidence.” I will answer in two parts.

    The first is that there is no real evidence of this natural racial difference in intelligence. Your historical evidence consists of a set of vague, tendentious examples that wilfully ignore every plausible, salient factor in explaining differential achievements of these groups. Instead of comparing things like material conditions, geography, ethics, culture, climate, or empire, you fixate on a black-white racial division which from its crafting to today has served primarily as a tool of racial supremacy, and which, outside of the Americas — where it has a certain but uncomfortable home — is nothing more than a label superimposed onto unfitting groups rather than being, as you seem to imagine it, a natural description arising from actual study of those groups. Your evolutionary evidence is nothing but a possible supposition; so, yes, that kind of separation can lead to a divergence in intellectual abilities, but without actually observing that divergence there’s no reason to believe that it has. Evolutionary psychology is still very much a ‘science’ of hindsight explanations; it’s nowhere near having that kind of predictive power. And your contemporary evidence is as wilfully blind of the dozens of other relevant factors as the historical evidence is.

    The character of that evidence is enough for anyone who isn’t already wedded to your thesis to discard it, but there’s more: this ‘evidence’ is part of a long and illustrious tradition of white reasons — philosophical, theological, historical, and scientific — for the supposed inferiority of non-white races to the white race(s). The continued existence of this tradition in the face of good reasons for its death is easily explained by sociological factors (primarily the justifying of white supremacy to reduce or eradicate White Guilt for White Sin) that are largely irrelevant to any serious concerns about the truth. Your argument’s position in this tradition should also give everyone, including you, strong reason to doubt its reliability in delivering the truth on this issue.

    So that addresses the absence of real evidence that there are natural differences. My second main reason relates to what prior beliefs or other reasons we might have for forming the positive belief that white people and black people don’t significantly differ on intellectual measures. A large part of my prior reasons are from personal experience: none of the differences in intelligence I’ve observed between the smart, average, and stupid black, white and other people I know seem to be down to race. You keep repeating the tired trope of corrupt, majority-black countries as examples of why black people can’t govern themselves. There are several ways of answering that which not just neutralise that line as an example of black inferiority, but make a positive case for general human cluelessness and depravity: to apportion the appropriate responsibility for that dysfunction and corruption to white arms, actions and wealth; to point out good examples of well-functioning, black countries; to point out the corruption in white countries, corruption that’s most obvious in poorer white countries (such as those in eastern Europe) but which, is increasingly obvious in rich ones too (think lobbyists and the corrupting effects of excessive capital on governance); and, my personal favourite these days, pointing out the joke of governance that the British Tories have made of the Brexit campaign and aftermath.

    Another part is from what seems to be happening as some of the social barriers of white supremacy come down, and that seems to resemble what’s happening as some of the social barriers to women’s involvement in intellectual disciplines come down. That is, the removal of those barriers has seen the arrival of many women and non-white people whose work give the lie to some of the old stories about those groups, and while there isn’t proportional representation (which would be parity for women), that doesn’t seem to be due to the natural or biological abilities of those groups.

    These — my personal experiences of comparable intelligence across races, my observations of the progress of groups as their crosses of oppression are lifted from their shoulders, the widespread depravity cluelessness of humanity, and the lack of any real evidence of Black or other non-white intellectual inferiority — are the main reasons that I believe that black under-representation in philosophy is probably due to racial injustice rather than to a natural difference in intelligence.

  13. Hi Kamal,
    The first three paragraphs of your latest post, and much of the fourth, are still irrelevant. You’re arguing that there’s no evidence for the ‘racist’ hypothesis, that my ‘white reasons’ belong to a suspect tradition, etc. These are objections to arguments for the ‘racist’ hypothesis. Logically, they can’t make it even a tiny bit more plausible that blacks and whites are natural mental equals. (The world’s best objection to arguments for theism tells us nothing about the truth of theism. It doesn’t make it even a tiny little bit likely that theism is false, or that atheism is true.) Why do people have so much trouble staying on topic with this topic?

    Now some things you mention in connection with your ‘second main reason’ do seem relevant. The first is an appeal to personal experience: in your experience, differences in intelligence that you’ve observed don’t seem to have much correlation with race. This is really weak given the topic. We’re talking about populations of hundreds of millions, across different cultures and periods. An induction based on the tiny fraction that you personally have dealt with is not meaningful. Also it’s not evident that your judgment on this matter is particularly accurate, or that you’re not biased by your own political preconceptions, etc. And it’s not likely that you’re typically interacting with all these people in ways that would reveal differences outside the normal range of intelligence even if your judgment were totally reliable and fair… Sorry, this is a really bad argument!

    Here’s a second point that is relevant but, in my view, not very helpful to your cause:

    “the removal of those barriers has seen the arrival of many women and non-white people whose work give the lie to some of the old stories about those groups, and while there isn’t proportional representation (which would be parity for women), that doesn’t seem to be due to the natural or biological abilities of those groups.”

    This has happened with SOME groups. When Ashkenazic Jews came out of the ghettoes no one questioned their intellectual abilities. (But then, no one ever questioned it even before, interestingly. Why is that?) Chinese were not wanted but they outperform whites in lots of ways. Same for high caste Hindus. As you say, few doubt that women are basically just as capable as men in some areas from which they were once excluded.

    But this has NOT happened with blacks in any areas except sports and music. We do NOT see any significant number of blacks doing high-level work in physics or philosophy (hence the subject of this post). The overall pattern of achievement is basically what you’d expect if you assume that blacks, as a group, are just naturally not as smart as whites (or others). Nothing has happened to ‘give the lie’ to the old belief that blacks tend to be not as smart.

    The fact that so many other groups have followed this pattern (and the fact that blacks have followed in sports and music) doesn’t support your conclusion. If anything it might seem to count in favor of the ‘racist’ hypothesis. But I won’t go that far. The analogy you seem to be making here doesn’t hold unless you’re already assuming that all races are basically the same–i.e., that if Chinese people or Jews could achieve once ‘white supremacy’ began to lift, it must also be possible for blacks. But that would beg the question. Maybe blacks (and some other groups) are just naturally less good at these kinds of things.

    So I see two relevant claims: a weak anecdotal induction, and a weak or question-begging analogy. Are there any other reasons for egalitarianism? And remember: the question is why we should think mental sameness more likely _given_ 60,000 years of reproductive isolation. You need reasons that will still be kind of compelling even _given_ that striking fact. (It’s also possible to be agnostic by the way. Are you sure you don’t want to defend agnosticism rather than egalitarianism? Agnosticism is not at all crazy here.)

  14. Kamal, nobody in this comments section can argue at your level. Thank you for your careful and persuasive arguments. I have enjoyed the back and forth.

  15. I can’t let this slide:

    “Your historical evidence consists of a set of vague, tendentious examples that wilfully ignore every plausible, salient factor in explaining differential achievements of these groups. Instead of comparing things like material conditions, geography, ethics, culture, climate, or empire, you fixate on a black-white racial division”

    The claim of 60,000+ years of reproductive isolation is not vague or tendentious. The claim that there’s only one written language developed by sub-Saharans isn’t vague. The claim that African states and cities within the west tend to have very high levels of crime and dysfunction isn’t vague (or tendentious). Also it’s not vague to claim there’s always been about 1 SD difference in IQ between whites and blacks. We now know that there are also many differences in brain size and function and brain-related genetic differences between races.

    It’s true that in my initial comments I didn’t discuss things like ’empire’ or ‘material conditions’ or ‘culture’. But why assume these are independent factors? Why did Europeans repeatedly create global empires while sub-Saharans or Australian Aborigines never did such things? Why did European ‘cultures’ (and some others) include impressive technological advances, while the ‘culture’ of others didn’t? These are all among the things that need explaining.

    Now it’s true that there _could_ be some purely environmentalist explanation for all such facts. But it’s not enough to just list a whole bunch of possible (and rather vague) environmental factors; you have to actually offer a plausible explanation. Otherwise you’re just ‘fixated’ on an environmentalist theory, ignoring the other possibility altogether.

    You say I’m ignoring every ‘plausible’ or ‘salient’ factor, as if it had already been established that human genetic diversity and reproductive isolation couldn’t be plausible or salient. But how do you know that? You seem to be assuming your environmentalist/egalitarian conclusion.

  16. Van Van,
    You’re leaping to conclusions. I hate scientism. But science is important here. I never said IQ or philosophy or science or other “nerdy” stuff is the only thing that’s valuable. I do like music (a lot). Black music is some of the best music on earth. I even think the genius of black music is probably based in an _intellectual_ gift that IQ tests don’t measure. (And I even think blacks are superior to whites in some ways.) And I think music is one of the most important things humans do. But the question was not ‘Is there anything good about blacks?’ or ‘What is valuable?’

  17. Jacques,

    The first three paragraphs of your latest post, and much of the fourth, are still irrelevant. You’re arguing that there’s no evidence for the ‘racist’ hypothesis, that my ‘white reasons’ belong to a suspect tradition, etc. These are objections to arguments for the ‘racist’ hypothesis. Logically, they can’t make it even a tiny bit more plausible that blacks and whites are natural mental equals. (The world’s best objection to arguments for theism tells us nothing about the truth of theism. It doesn’t make it even a tiny little bit likely that theism is false, or that atheism is true.)

    What? You think belief in white supremacy is properly basic? Or that we have some kind of direct (non-rational? non-evidential?) knowledge of white supremacy? Or that white supremacy is the only rational prior belief on this topic? Or that white supremacy is the kind of belief such that, for some other reason, absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence? What am I missing?

    And I don’t know if you missed it or if you just chose to ignore it, but I’m curious to read your responses to my questions about your definition of western/European civilisation. They’re in my comment beginning “Yes, Jacques, I’m black.”

    • No, I don’t think belief in ‘white supremacy’ is properly basic. I can’t imagine how you get anything like that from my what I said. I think natural race differences are the best known explanations for a wide range of facts.

      But that’s not the point. In the passage you quoted I’m not defending my ‘racism’ but rather I’m pointing out that you aren’t adequately defending your egalitarianism.

      My original question was not ‘Why should we believe there _are_ natural racial differences?’ It was ‘Why should we believe there _aren’t_ any?’ You can’t establish that there aren’t any, or that there probably aren’t, just by poking holes in arguments meant to show that there are. The truth of the conclusion (e.g., ‘racism’) and the quality of the arguments for it are logically distinct matters. Right?

      So if we agree on that logical point, I’m adding that almost everything you’ve said has no bearing on my intial question. (Maybe it’s important in other ways.) Even if you’re right that I’m prejudiced and my ‘white reasons’ are irrational and IQ tests are biased–all of that–the probability of natural racial differences still won’t be any lower than it would otherwise be.

      You’ve offered two arguments relevant to the truth of the ‘racist’ hypothesis, an appeal to personal experience and the example of some other groups achieving in fields once ‘barriers’ were lifted. How could those sketchy arguments be enough? I suspect you think they’re enough because you treat egalitarianism as the default, the null hypothesis–a properly basic belief, maybe. Otherwise it would be absurd to base that kind of conclusion on that kind of reasoning.

      Egalitarianism and ‘racism’ are BOTH coherent, non-absurd empirical hypotheses that come in some pretty sophisticated formulations–debated by real experts who devoted years of study to becoming specialists in these areas, using lots of math, meta-analyses, huge amounts of empirical data, heritability studies, twin studies, longitudinal studies, human genome research, anthropology and history, etc. You think you can dismiss all that, as mere ignorance and prejudice, on the basis of some anecdotal evidence and the fact that some non-black groups are doing better now that ‘barriers’ have been lifted? Do you also dismiss cosmology and quantum mechanics as just more white-people-bullshit? That would be absurd epistemic arrogance.

      But even if there was none of that research, no scientific debate, your evidence would still be pretty thin as a reason for rejecting an empirically plausible hypothesis. (It’s plausible enough that evolution didn’t stop at the neck, and 60,000 years is a decent stretch of evolutionary time.) So I still don’t see any good reason for rejecting the ‘racist’ hypothesis–which is not to say that I take _that_ to justify anyone in accepting it! But I’m pretty sure the answer to my initial question is what I thought: there are no good reasons for the radical egalitarian beliefs that our whole society now treats as sacred truths.

      I did see your earlier question about how to ‘define’ western civilization. Tough question. I don’t have a definition. I don’t think civilizations are the kinds of things that we humans can define. They’re more like people, and if your dad has a definition none of us can state it. (And still we know your dad is a distinct person, not you, not me or my dad–a special expression of his ancestry and experiences, etc.) But I’ll see if I can think up something a bit more precise to say. I do have some ideas.

      • Jacques, I asked if you thought it was properly basic, or directly knowable, or the only rational prior etc because I couldn’t see how else the lack of evidence in favour of white (intellectual) supremacy “logically…can’t make it even a tiny bit more plausible that blacks and whites are natural mental equals”, or how belief in white (intellectual) supremacy in the absence of evidence warranted a comparison to belief in God. I take your latest response to mean that that comparison wasn’t warranted, and that the lack of evidence in favour of white (intellectual) supremacy can “make it a tiny bit more plausible that blacks and whites are natural mental equals”.

        And, of course, I’d go further than making it “a tiny bit more plausible that blacks and whites are natural mental equals”: if there’s no real evidence in favour of white (intellectual) supremacy, then there are many reasons that someone might take an alternative view — such as remaining agnostic on the issue, or holding to racial (intellectual) egalitarianism, or believing in white (intellectual) inferiority. I’ve sketched some of my reasons. Those reasons don’t have to be of the kind that would convince a white (intellectual) supremacist to be good reasons.

        I don’t think anything else you’ve said in your latest post is new or otherwise hasn’t already been addressed. I’ve answered your questions. I’ve met your challenge. I’m sure there’s a lot worth talking about in this neighbourhood. That issue of defining white civilisation is one such thing. Questions of people’s motivations for taking one view or another are others. The finer points of supposed black (intellectual) inferiority are not. And since that seems to be all you want to talk about, I don’t think there’s enough to be gained from us pursuing this issue for me to continue.

      • We seem to be diagreeing over an elementary principe of good reasoning, which I’d state as follows:

        If p and not-p are both known to be logically possible and non-absurd, the _mere_ fact that no evidence supports p does not justify believing not-p (to any degree).

        For “p” here substitute some “racist” hypothesis about evolved mental traits.

        Do you reject this principle?

      • Reading your last more carefully I was astounded by the first paragraph:

        “I couldn’t see how else the lack of evidence in favour of white (intellectual) supremacy ‘logically…can’t make it even a tiny bit more plausible that blacks and whites are natural mental equals'”

        You really can’t understand this? Really?

        If you have no evidence that God exists, does that fact _alone_ give you evidence that God _does not_ exist? This is just a really dumb fallacy (appeal to ignorance) unless you make some very strong and controversial assumptions about your epistemic situation. Similarly the _mere_ fact that you have no evidence for natural racial intellectual differences (though of course there is a million tonnes of such evidence) doesn’t give you any reason to believe that there _aren’t_ any such differences. Not unless YOU are assuming that racial equality is properly basic, default, null, etc. But that would also be really dumb. Again, I am assuming that neither egalitarian theories nor “racist” theories like mine are properly basic, self-evident, or whatever; they’re both empirical hypotheses that shouldn’t be believed in the absence of strong evidence.

        “…or how belief in white (intellectual) supremacy in the absence of evidence warranted a comparison to belief in God.”

        I think this means that, in your view, I’ve been claiming that (a) it’s reasonable to believe in “white intellectual supremacy in the absence of evidence” and that (b) this is reasonable in the same way that Plantinga claims belief in the existence of God is reasonable, i.e., it’s a properly basic belief.

        If that’s what you think, then I’m also ready to give up on this. I’ve mentioned the avalanche of EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE in favor “racist” theories. IQ studies, genomics, twin studies, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc. Evidently the vastly superior intellectual performance of whites over millenia is also EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE though, to be sure, not decisive proof. And I’ve been talking about the EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE this entire time. So clearly I don’t think that my own belief in “racist” theories of this kind is a belief held “in the absence of evidence”. But this empirical point is logically distinct from the earlier purely logical point about appeals to ignorance. You seem to be having a lot of trouble keeping track of the dialectic.

        Anyway, all of this is purely hypothetical. You seem to be claiming that in this actual world of ours, on planet earth, there’s “no real evidence” for natural race differences in intelligence. You’re drawing a non-hypothetical conclusion, affirming that there really is no evidence.

        Are you insane?

        It’s one thing to dispute the evidence of hereditarans, as lots of smart environmental theorists have been doing for decades. But to pretend that there isn’t even any real _evidence_ at all? To dismiss thousands of peer-reviewed papers and books across multiple fields of real science? That’s simply pathetic. Someone with that attitude isn’t fit to participate in any intellectually serious discussion of an empirical question such as this.

        You might as well be denying that there’s evidence of evolution just because you don’t like its implications for your religious beliefs. I mean, deny evolution if you want, or deny that your race and mine diverged 60,000+ years ago, but don’t expect any normal intelligent person to accept that we don’t even have _evidence_ for these things. Pathetic.

    • Kamal,
      The average height of a male from the Netherlands is 5′ 11.”
      The average height of a male Pygmy is 4′ 11.”
      It has been confirmed the variation is genetic. (It’s not like baby Pygmies can eat a lot of protein and be 5′ 11″). There are lots of other genetic differences, too. For example, unfortunately, Pygmies have a much shorter life span.
      So, is it your view that while there can be genetic differences between groups in every part of the human body below the neck, there cannot be any genetic differences between groups in the brain? That would seem like a very odd thing to say.

      • That would be a very odd thing to say! Fortunately for us all, not only have I not said that, I’ve said precisely the opposite.

  18. A reasonable person could assess all the evidence and remain unconvinced that biology plays any role in race differences in IQ, etc.

    He could deny that the evidence is sufficient, in other words.

    If he had a deep mastery of many relevant issues he could come up with a purely environmentalist theory to accommodate all the evidence some other way. Not just “it could be x” or “it could be y”–not just excuses for the evidence–but an actual substantive explanation.

    But a reasonable person could NOT be aware of all the arguments put forward over the past 100 years by hereditarians and just deny that there IS some “real”, rationally significant evidence.

    Anyone interested in a rigorous philosophical treatment of some of these issues should read Sesardic’s paper “Philosophy of Science that Denies Science”.

    For some science see the papers by Rushton and Jensen on the hereditarian side. And see Flynn and his buddies on the environmentalist side.

    This is a live question in science _even though_ anti-“racism” is the deepest dogma of our secular faith.

    Even so an expert environmentalist like Flynn regards Jensen as a major thinker whose views can only be refuted by thousands of pages of close tecnical reasoning.

    And yet people like Kamal–typical humanities academics, typical leftists, typical ideologues–think they can demolish the vast architecture of hereditarian theory by just breezily noting that, hey, it doesn’t _seem_ that blacks and whites are mentally different. Doesn’t seem that way _to them_ on the basis of their personal experience and intuitions, in the absence of any knowledge of the science. Which can just be ignored because there is “no real evidence” for hereditarian theories.

    Think of what’s at stake. It’s not just that whites are being locked out of jobs so that blacks can be “represented” in all high status fields. Not just that they suffer and society losses out on their contributions.

    Worse, the highly dubious theory that low black achievement is due to white racism quite predictably makes blacks resent and hate whites. When blacks attack and rape and kill whites at vastly disproportionate rates, when they riot and burn down neighborhoods, when they shoot cops, that’s surely due in part to this dubious belief. White lives matter. The lives and property of decent blacks victimized by the lowest elements of the black population matter–and matter more than the lives of black criminals who like to throttle convenience store clerks and try to grab a cop’s gun.

    People of good will, white or black, can see that we shouldn’t be teaching people to resent and hate others for what might well be a natural difference that is no one’s fault.

    The purpose of arguing with someone like Kamal, who I initially thought was in good faith, is to raise awareness. Other people will read what these supremely arrogant proponents of equality have to say in defense of their dogmatism and draw their own conclusions.

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