Deductive Reasoning: Cause of Racism in Society?

by Mariam Mikhail on September 13, 2016 - 11:06pm


A few weeks ago, my humanity teacher explained to us that many philosophers believe we use two ways to gather knowledge: inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning. This first way is used when we apply specific observations to make wider generalization. On the contrary, deductive reasoning starts with a general affirmation and then verifying if it is true by observing case by case situations. When it comes to racism, we tend to use deductive reasoning, because we were raised in a society where we already had that idea that there are categories that we belong to called “races”, which is mostly based on our skin color. In other words, our general statement is “race” is based on physical factors. In his article “Race Without Color”, Jared diamond argues that this idea is wrong for many reasons. First, he explains that it is a method that is very subjective because, unlike animals, our characteristics that distinguish individuals do not vary concordantly. As a consequence, we cannot base our concept of “race” on the physical differences we have, because there are too many variables (Diamond, 1994, para. 8-10.) For example, we cannot link an individual’s skin color and the size of his feet to put him or her in a category, because they are not dependent one of the other. Second, he says that there are three things that can explain the variation of some traits: natural selection, sexual selection and geographical variables, therefore our treats evolved either for survival matters, because the feature attracted the opposite sex or simply by luck. (Diamond, 1994, para. 12-14.) To apply what Diamond is saying, we should not use deductive reasoning when it comes to classifying individuals, because the starting statement is in reality wrong since the idea of race is non-existent. There are no genes that only one “race” inherits. Approximately 94% of genes can be found on all the continents, which means that in reality we are very similar genetically.  In conclusion, I personally believe that we need to stop classifying people into these boxes that were created by society, because they do not mean anything, as discussed in class, the color of an individual’s skin does not imply any further characteristics.


Diamond, J. (2016, Winter). Race Without Color. In A. Nouvet (Ed.), Anthropology 381-101-LA: The Myth of Race and the Reality of Racism. Saint-Lambert, QC: Champlain. 

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The title of your article caught my attention. I never even realized that I have often judged race using deductive reasoning, and your post made me think about my actions in a new light. I would love to see more elaboration and reference to how being raised in a society that assumes and stereotypes certain races can distort the truth and influence our communication with others. I think you do a great job summarizing and generalizing how “race” does not fit into the one singular mold that many use, in fact race you even mention that “race is non-existent”. I think that expanding the point to cover how skewed concepts of race influence interaction would make your argument clearer and more complete.

What I really like about your post is how you mention the many different characteristics that society uses in order to classify people. Your post really examines the basic principles of the key term called a “Social Construct”. A Social construct is as mentioned; the labels society uses the classify various people. Society uses these labels because human nature gives us the inherent need to categorize and organize various factors. We notice that there are differences in the physical appearances of those around us, however we do not always understand why these differences exist. Therefore, society creates these labels to make sense in the diverse world we live in. The more unfamiliar we are with people of diverse backgrounds, the more likely we will use these labels when describing them which will enforce the use of these social constructs. I think that the principal idea of your post is really interesting, however I think you really only scratched the surface. A more in-depth analysis of the issue of social constructs in society supported by more research could truly benefit in the development of your post. It is crucial to be made aware of the strong impact society’s lack of exposure to diversity is a key cause of the categorization of people. Here is the explanation for Social Constructionism on Wikipedia that can explain in more detail!

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