2.79 Races and DNA

Category: Philosophy of Science/Social and Political

Keywords: protein, races, dna, racial, race, racism, cell, raven, ravens, black, cells, molecular, genetics, genes, genetic

Number of Articles: 165
Percentage of Total: 0.5%
Rank: 84th

Weighted Number of Articles: 142
Percentage of Total: 0.4%
Rank: 90th

Mean Publication Year: 1992.7
Weighted Mean Publication Year: 1985
Median Publication Year: 2000
Modal Publication Year: 2000

Topic with Most Overlap: Evolutionary Biology (0.042)
Topic this Overlaps Most With: Evolutionary Biology (0.0152)
Topic with Least Overlap: Ancient (0.00012)
Topic this Overlaps Least With: Kant (0.00021)

A scatterplot showing which proportion of articles each year are in the races and DNAtopic. The x-axis shows the year, the y-axis measures the proportion of articles each year in this topic. There is one dot per year. The highest value is in 2000 when 2.1% of articles were in this topic. The lowest value is in 1899 when 0.0% of articles were in this topic. The full table that provides the data for this graph is available in Table A.79 in Appendix A.

Figure 2.182: Races and DNA.

A set of twelve scatterplots showing the proportion of articles in each journal in each year that are in the Races and DNAtopic. There is one scatterplot for each of the twelve journals that are the focus of this book. In each scatterplot, the x-axis is the year, and the y-axis is the proportion of articles in that year in that journal in this topic. Here are the average values for each of the twelve scatterplots - these tell you on average how much of the journal is dedicated to this topic. Mind - 0.2%. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society - 0.1%. Ethics - 0.4%. Philosophical Review - 0.1%. Analysis - 0.3%. Philosophy and Public Affairs - 0.6%. Journal of Philosophy - 0.3%. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research - 0.1%. Philosophy of Science - 1.4%. Noûs - 0.3%. The Philosophical Quarterly - 0.2%. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science - 1.1%. The topic reaches its zenith in year 1884 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 2.0% of the articles. And it hits a minimum in year 1899 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 0.0% of the articles.

Figure 2.183: Races and DNA articles in each journal.

Table 2.193: Characteristic articles of the races and DNA topic.
Table 2.194: Highly cited articles in the races and DNA topic.


This topic would look very different if the study ran forward a few years. Work on race is distinctive enough that the model wants to put it somewhere on its own, but small enough that it needs supplementing with other work to get to be a topic. Even with supplementation, it’s the smallest topic (by weighted sum) of the ninety. That would not be the case if I ran the study through the present day, I’m sure.

Putting together papers about DNA with papers about race isn’t the strangest thing the model has done. (Though it is a little random; this wasn’t a common pairing.) Even philosophers who deny that DNA has much if anything to do with race will talk about why it does not. And the model is just tracking word associations. If everyone is talking about why X and Y aren’t connected, the model just sees the words for X and Y turning up a lot in the same papers, and connects them.

I don’t really know enough philosophy of biology to know why the biology papers in this topic were split off from the much larger topic of evolutionary biology. It looks like a distinction without much of a difference to me, but maybe it’s tracking an important topic distinction.

Note that Lindley Darden is coauthor of the most cited article in this topic. She’s also coauthor of the most cited article in mechanisms. There are eight philosophers who have an authorship share in the top-cited article in two or more topics. David Lewis is the only one to have the most cited article in three different topics. The other six are G. E. Moore, Thomas Nagel, Paul Boghossian, Amartya Sen, H. L. A. Hart, and Hilary Putnam. So Darden is the only woman to achieve this feat, relative at least to this model. Her work doesn’t get nearly as much attention as the other seven philosophers I just mentioned, at least among nonspecialists. That’s unfortunate, I think, given its quality and the philosophical importance of the topics she addresses.