Lawrence Blum is (Emeritus) Professor of Philosophy and Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Education at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He works in the areas of race studies, moral philosophy, social and political philosophy, and philosophy of education. He is the author of “I’m Not a Racist, But…” The Moral Quandary of Race (2002), which was selected as best social philosophy book of the year by the North American Society for Social Philosophy; Integrations: The Struggle for Racial Equality and Civic Renewal in Public Education (2021); and four other books.
“Race” is very much in the news these days. But what exactly does “race” mean? Is it really a false idea? If so, how can it be meaningful to many people as a personal identity? And how does race relate to what seems a similar, yet distinct, idea, that of “ethnicity?” Is “ethnicity” more substantial than race because it is based in culture, while race is based on mere physical characteristics? To answer these questions I will also introduce two other essential ideas—“racialized group” and “pan-ethnicity.” The talk will show the value of a philosophical approach to issues and concepts most commonly associated with the social sciences.