AP/PHIL3300 3.0 A: Philosophy of Race

Offered by: PHIL


Fall 2019






Calendar Description / Prerequisite / Co-Requisite

This course is an examination of some of the answers contemporary philosophers have given to some normative, conceptual and metaphysical questions concerning race, racism and related concepts. Questions include: Is race real? What, exactly, is racism? And what makes it wrong? Prerequisites: At least six credits in Philosophy Course Credit Exclusions: GL/PHIL/SOSC 3631 3.00 Philsophy of Race

Course Website

Many courses utilize Moodle, York University's course website system. If your course is using Moodle, refer to the image below to access it.

    Additional Course Instructor/Contact Details

Chandra Kumar
chandrak@yorku.ca or  chndrakumr@gmail.com
Office Location:  S401 Ross
Office Hours:  Monday 3:00 - 5:00

    Expanded Course Description

This course is an examination of some of the answers contemporary philosophers (and others) have given to some normative (moral and political), conceptual and metaphysical questions concerning race, racism and related concepts. Although we probably cannot cover all of the following questions, we will consider as many as we can, given time limits.

Questions include: What kind of thing are we purporting to talk about when we talk about race? Is race real? For example, is race biologically real? If not, might it nonetheless be real in some other sense? If race is not real in any sense – or perhaps even if it is – should we eliminate racial discourse as well as the practices that depend on racial categories? What, exactly, is racism? And what makes it wrong? Is racial discrimination always wrong? What makes racial discrimination wrong, when it is wrong? What is racial injustice? How should a society respond to a history of past racial injustice? Do prominent theories of justice have the theoretical resources to address issues of racial injustice? Is it morally permissible to feel a special sense of solidarity with other members of one’s racial group? Has race-thinking always been with us, or is it a distinctively modern phenomenon? Is there a connection between racism and capitalism? Does Islamophobia count as a form of racism, or is it something different? Can one be racist against the racially dominant group? What is the relation between racism and other forms of oppression and discrimination (e.g., gender and class oppression)? How has racism evolved from colonial times to the present? What is distinctive about racism in our time, with the rise of far-right movements in many countries? To what extent are anti-immigrant attitudes racist? Is there such a thing as environmental racism? Is ‘affirmative action’ a form of ‘reverse racism’? Should we be ‘colour-blind’?

    Required Course Text / Readings
  • Paul C. Taylor, Race: A Philosophical Introduction, 2nd ed. (2013). This book is currently only available through Kindle, via Amazon. To purchase it (for Cdn 22.39$) go to this link:


  • I will put two copies of this book on reserve at Scott Library as well, but you will only be able to sign it out for 2 days, so better to get the Kindle version.
  • We will take 5 or 6 classes to cover this book. The other readings will be supplied to you via email – to what you gave as your ‘preferred email’ address to York U.
  • A week-by-week schedule for the course, with readings for each week, and short written assignment due dates, will be sent to you via email during the weekend of September 7-8.
  • The first readings, for the class on September 11, will be sent to you via email on September 4.
    Weighting of Course

1) 4 short written assignments, 2-3 pages, typed, double-spaced, dates TBA, 5% each (20%)

2) In-class exam (30%) – Wednesday, Oct. 9th

3) Long essay, 2,000-2,500 words, typed, double-spaced (50%) – Wednesday, Dec. 11th

Details about the assignments, exam and essay will be provided in due course.


    Organization of the Course


    Course Learning Objectives


    Additional Information / Notes

PLEASE NOTE - This is NOT a MOODLE course.

All announcements and readings other than the Taylor text listed below (see Readings) will be posted to students’ emails – to the email address students gave as their ‘preferred email’ to York University.

    Relevant Links / Resources