Volume 62, Issue 1, Winter 2018
Tina Fernandes Botts
Race and Method
The Tuvel Affair
Methodological tools for doing philosophy that take into account the historical context of the phenomenon under consideration (such as are often used in the continental tradition) are arguably better suited for examining questions of race and gender than acontextual or ahistorical methodological tools (such as are often used often in the analytic tradition). Accordingly, Rebecca Tuvel’s “defense” of so-called transracialism (based largely on an analogy to the transgender experience) arguably veers off track to the extent that it relies on acontextual and ahistorical tools. While Tuvel argues, largely relying on such tools, that so-called transracialism is both metaphysically possible and ethically permissible, from a perspective that factors in context and history, so-called transracialism is arguably neither. Nonetheless, Tuvel’s ethical call to the effect that an individual right to racial self-definition should be acknowledged has its appeal. However, the lesson to be learned from the Tuvel affair arguably has less to do with the metaphysical or ethical status of so-called transracialism than with changes that arguably need to be made in the way mainstream/analytic professional philosophy goes about its business, particularly with regard to non-ideal topics like race and gender.