Nevertheless beyond such a treacherous ideology, we need boundaries, since we need clusters both to achieve group-oriented diagnostics and therapeutics, and to grasp the evolution of Homo sapiens. Of course these clusters must be named in some way. To be honest nothing prevents us from continuing to use the word ‘race’ for them, especially now that we have understood the real epistemological status of this notion and the methodological path used to determine its content. Unfortunately ‘race’ is a too ideologically and historically committed term, and it would be wise not to use it. The history of human culture has showed us that even if words are not dangerous, the humans who use them can be extremely dangerous.The problem with this view is that by not using the word "race", the wrong impression is given, namely that "races do not exist", rather than the intended one that "things that we could call races exist, but we prefer not to name them because some bad people do so, and have done so in the past".
A secondary consequence is that by avoiding the use of the word "race" and its terminology, or replacing it with "ethnic group", "continental population", or "cluster", we make communication more difficult, e.g., because "ethnic group" is a social-political-cultural as well as biological concept, races do not map perfectly to geographically circumscribed continents, and "clusters" can be defined in a number of different ways without necessarily the property of "exhibiting genetic similarity reflecting common descent" that is characteristic of biological race.
Thirdly, even if "race" is a dangerous word, does any one believe that people's attitudes towards each other will magically change if they stop using racial terminology? Will a person's prejudices evaporate into thin air if it becomes impolite to speak of human races? On the contrary, existing prejudices will most likely go underground, and all sorts of incorrect notions about it will proliferate as scientists refuse to acknowledge its existence.
If we look back to the age before the emergence of race classification in Homo sapiens in the 18th century, we will see that there was plenty of opportunity for prejudice and conflict. So, rather than thinking that the identification of human races leads to prejudice, we should think that prejudice leads to an abuse of the race concept, just as it leads to an abuse of other religious, linguistic, or social concepts to justify itself. Does the fact that dangerous people use religious differences suggest that we should abandon classification of mankind's religious belief systems?
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Volume 39, Issue 1, March 2008, Pages 163-170
Clustering humans: on biological boundaries
Ludovica Lorussoa, and Giovanni Boniolo
We inquire into the notions of ‘boundary’ and ‘cluster’ in the fields of medical genetics, pharmacogenetics, and population genetics. First we show that the two notions are not well discussed in literature. Then we propose a promising explication of them, in which we argue that clustering is always ‘property laden’, that is, fundamentally dependent on decisions about the properties to be taken into account. In particular we suggest three different kinds of properties (main properties, investigating properties, and catalyzing properties) that have a role in these decisions. That is, we conclude that boundaries and clusters among humans depend on our way of considering nature. Concepts of ‘race’ and ‘ethnic group’ are discussed too, since they are the most used clusters among humans.