Metaphysics of Race
Constructivismand Mill’s Positions
Constructivismclaims that the nature and structure of race and internationalrelations are constructed by historical and social terms. Toconstructivists, international relations and race do not result fromhuman action or conscious features of people but social interactions.Constructivism indicates that race is an aspect of a sociallyconstructed element of international relations. Constructivists arguethat social structures and racial identities are defined by theprocess of identifying and reaching individuals in the internationalarena. Constructivism further argues that social and racialidentities are shaped by social interaction that defines theperspectives of social construction.
Mills(2) indicates that race is not foundational, but socially constructedand determined by historically different systems. Therefore,constructivism fits into the metaphysics schema positions held byMills through the relationship of race and social constructivism.Just like constructivism link structures of international relationsand international identities to historical constructions, Millsindicates that race is determined by human association such as thesharing of ideas. According to Mills (2), it is the aspect of falseracial realism aspect of that leads to the determination of thestructures of international differentiations of race. This means thatidentities of both the states and individuals are constructed bycommon ideologies formed by sharing and not through nature.
Thismeans that arguments by Mills fit with the constructivism argumentsas both illustrate the aspect of race as a non-foundationaloccurrence. In his constructivist ideology, Mills (2) illustratesthat bodily appearance, such as the skin or eyeball color is notconclusive to define racial systems. In conformity to theconstructivists’ arguments, Mills illustrates that public andself-awareness provides further aspects of social construction thatdefine race. Mills (3) further argues that culture and personalexperiences provide the platform through which a person identifieshimself into a socially constructed identity of race. Thisillustrates how race is not a realistic element, but a constructivistelement (Mills 2).
Inthe further schema of metaphysical position, Mills (4) describes thesubjective identification as the process that a person sees oneself.According to Mills, subjective identification is different from selfawareness due to the acceptance that each of the two positions holds(Mills 4). While self-realization reflects the reality of a personbased on his view, subjective awareness gives a reflection of whatthe social systems imposes on an individual to accept. In this way, aperson’s race is described by the social constructivist structuresin the international set up. This is because the subjectiveidentification offers the connection between the social systems andan individual’s decision to identify with the race.
Constructivismis different from relativism in terms of the determination ofdifferent international identities. Relativism argues that there isno existence of absolute truth as applicable in the ethics. Thetheory suggests that the existence of the wrong or the right in anyhuman behavior is only determined by applying the relevant culture ina given subject, such as race. For instance, a certain race maybelieve in one practice which is highly opposed by another race.However, in both races, there are basic differences in the way theybelieve and hold truth to be (Mills 5).
Onthe other hand, constructivism holds that the structures ofinternational identities and race are determined by human associationthat leads to sharing of ideas. It is not the sharing of values thatlead to the determination of the race, but by the existence andexperience (Mills 6). This means that identities and the interests ofthe states are constructed by common ideologies formed by throughsharing and not through nature. Therefore, constructivism andrelativism are different in terms of their positions in relation tothe existence of a reality of social differentiations.
Inthe application of the two theories in regard to race, constructivismis different to relativism in terms of finding state or individualidentity. While constructivism describes a complete illustration ofthe social identification that is shaped by social constructivism,relativism holds that everything is relative in its own essence. Thismeans that relativism does not provide a complete illustration of themethods that people derive identity (Mills 3). Race being anidentification of a community, the argument of relativism that “allis relative” is not an absolute as compared to constructivism.Despite the social practice of comparing races, race cannot be takenin relative terms but in absolute terms, which is defined byconstructivism.
Accordingto constructivism, race has always been the same, but it hassignificantly been viewed differently over time. This is because ofthe changes in the social dynamics with time and place. In line withthe constructivism view of the world, every ideology in the world andviews that shape the opinion of the world are constructed by thehuman beings depending on the social environment and humanassociation. This means that the element of race will be changing asdifferent social contexts construct it in the minds of people. Thisway, the element of subjection of defined by the society ishighlighted as an evidence of social constructivism. This cements theargument by constructivists that race is socially and historicallyconstructed and subjectively accepted by individuals.
Whatis most surprising is that the race has always remained the samedespite how people view race as a changing discriminating element.The race is the distinction that has evidently been used among manynations worldwide to discriminate people. Through racialdiscrimination, the aspect of racism has been established as abarrier to cooperative globalization. The element of differentiatingpeople according to their race is a resultant of social constructionin different contexts depending on the subject to be favored.However, despite having different social contexts and definitions,race has been the same all over time for the social being ofdifferent races has not changed.
Theperception of race is based on the way the way the world hasclassified people and defined different groups. This view is furtherfounded in different social dynamics such as social norms, law andscientific practices (Mills 5). The applications of these dynamicsare responsible for the construction of the element of identity andbelongingness to a particular race. Because of this feature, thedefinition of race will constantly change as long as the socialcontexts that define it keep on changing. Therefore, a consistentdefinition of international relations will be shaped by differentsocial circumstances that human beings are subjected to in life.
Onan opinion, constructivism offers a more comprehensive description ofa phenomenon such as the existence of race. Constructivism provides aplatform for defining a phenomenon based on its social constructionthat describes its existence. To determine racial identity, acombination of subjective and objective as well as inter-subjectivefactors come into play. These are the factors that makeconstructivism a viable perspective of describing the existence ofrace and identities of international relations. This way,constructivists provide a viewpoint that is better than realist oreliminativism theories by providing a deeper description of the humanassociation. This makes constructivism the most appropriate theory todescribe human identity and international elements of race andrelations.
Incomparison with realism and eliminativism, constructivism views theelement of a more viable description of international relations andrace. While realists and eliminativism take race and internationalidentification as a common element of international relations,constructivists focus on historical aspects of human social practice(Mills 2). Therefore, according to constructivists, race anddifferent international identities are not barriers since they aredefined by the practical aspects of human association. However, theperspectives of realism and eliminativism view internationalrelations and race from the truth aspect, which does not giveconclusive definition of the topic. The difference is that realismand eliminativism take international cooperation between the stateswhile constructivism views it as a result of human association.
Inconclusion, constructivism theory is appropriate in the descriptionof race by invoking the elements of social history and humanassociation. By defining race as a non-fundamental issue ininternational human association, constructivism illustrates that raceand racial identity is historically and socially constructed. Thisleads to subjective identity as compared to the objective definitionsproposed by realism or eliminativism. Therefore, constructivismprovides better and reliable perspective of describing all theelements of international relations such as race.
Mills,Charles. "ButWhat Are You Really?" The ’, BlacknessVisible:
Essayson Philosophy and Race.Cornell University Press, 1998, Print