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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 31, Issue 1, 2021

Racism

Maduka EnyimbaOrcid-ID
Pages 177-190

How Sense-phenomenal Theory of Personal Identity Might Legitimize Racism

The major concern of the problem of personal identity gravitates around the question of whether a person’s identity is located in the mind or in the body. Scholars have developed different theories such as survivalist and physicalist criteria among others in response to this question. In this paper, I engage with the theory of sense-phenomenalism as an aspect of the physicalist criterion of personal identity to show how it might legitimize racism and colour-branding. Sense-phenomenalism is a body-only model of personal identity that holds that an individual’s identity is determined by the physical features sensually perceptible by other humans in the society. I argue that sense-phenomenalism by reposing a person’s identity on his/her bodily traits might foster social discrimination, deepen the dichotomy between the self and the other and enhance the fabrication of justifications for the denial of individual’s rights.

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