Volume 26, 2019
Philosophy and Race
Paul C. Taylor
The Influence of Dewey on Race Theory
I once planned to write an essay detailing the advantages of a Deweyan approach to philosophical race theory. This essay would have developed my views in a way that highlighted their distinctly Deweyan resonances and debts. A recent essay by Ron Mallon gave me the opportunity to set this plan in motion, as Mallon’s reflections on social constructionism seemed likely to benefit from Deweyan insights. Unfortunately, or fortunately, setting to work on the project led to the distressing but edifying realization that this plan carried with it certain risks, risks made particularly dire by the race-theoretic context. “The Influence of Dewey on Race Theory” will credit this background with an argument that unfolds in two intertwined registers. It will interrogate (and resist) the impulse to work through Dewey, and it will use the lessons from this exercise—lessons, broadly, about parochialism and politics—as resources for critically engaging Mallon’s argument.