Racialism Essay Research Paper Appiah addresses the

Racialism Essay, Research Paper

Appiah addresses the issues of racialism, intrinsic racism, and extrensic racism

in his article entitled RACISMS. However, after analyzing Appiah?s 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 racist?s 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 racist?s 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 Appiah?s argument racialism is

false. This weakens Appiah?s 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

Appiah?s 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 one?s 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 Appiah?s 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 person?s 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 you?re

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 we?ll 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, Appiah?s 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, Appiah?s 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, Appiah?s 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?


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