Race In upholding the concept of "race," do we make racism possible? Response from Peter S. Fosl on November 9, 2005: Yes, I think we do--generally speaking. For this reason, one of the purposes of philosophical interrogation of the concept of "race" must be to undermine it. In my teaching I try to do this where possible, and in ordinary conversation I have been experimenting with either trying to avoid racial terms altogether or using "lighter-skinned" and "darker-skinned" as descriptive terms. These terms, unlike "black" or "white" are comparative and suggest gradations and continuity (which I think accurate to the biological facts of the matter). Ethnic terms like "African" are useful, too, but don't quite bear the same force of inclusion and continuity. Nevertheless, I don't think their use terribly pernicious, except when their use is exceptional. That is, using ethnic rather than racial terms may sometimes still serve to "other," separate, subordinate, etc. when members of other groups are not desgnated with ethnic terms. There are situations, however, where using the concept of race can serve morally... Read more about In upholding the concept of "race," do we make racism possible?