Volume 92, 2018
Philosophy, Catholicism, and Public Life
J. L. A. Garcia
A Volitional Account of Racist Beliefs, Contamination, and Objects
Engaging Dr. Urquidez
Prof. Alberto Urquidez, in an important recent article that appears in different form in his book, Redefining Racism, offers an informed, sustained, careful, multi-pronged, and sometimes original critique of the volitional analysis of racism (VAR), which I have proposed in a series of articles over the past two dozen years. Here I expand and improve VAR’s analysis of paternalistic racists and their beliefs, clarify its ‘infection’-model’s explanation of racism’s spread and variety, and lay out what it is for something to be ‘characteristically’ racist, an understanding that I then use to offer a unified account of the way in which both certain physical objects and certain abstract objects can properly be called racist. Identifying and engaging some presuppositions behind Urquidez’s social, political, and moral criticisms of VAR, I respond to complaints from him and others, showing that VAR’s content is neither politically conservative nor dependent on religious doctrine, and point out that race theory would in fact profit from taking more seriously and internalizing the Christian morality of most African-Americans.