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Empiricism and Racism

Empiricism and Racism

Martin Barker

A story has been told about the first case when
slavery was tested in a law court. It happened in
New Amsterdam, one of the Dutch colonies in America,
in the seventeenth century. An indentured servant
at the end of his period of indenture was kept as a
slave by his master. He applied to the local court,
demanding that the court require the master to free
him. The court disagreed, and declared him to be the
property of the master for life. A typical piece of
injustice, with only one point to distinguish it.

The master was black, and the slave was white.

It is a good point to begin with, reminding us
that slavery was originally pretty colour-blind.

Whites, Indians, anyone who was available could be
put into effective or total slavery. The question,
then, that needs answering is this: what components
went together to produce the racist philosophies that
were later used to justify black slavery? For when
the supply of whites proved inadequate, and when the
Indians kept inconveniently dying in servitude, then
black slavery became the norm. And gradually, a
series of ‘justifications’ of that slavery became
current, consolidating by the beginning of the nineteenth century.

In the last few years, a dispute has broken out
among academics, concerning one possible component
that, it has been argued, may have contributed to the
development of these racist ideologies. Those who
have made the positive claim have really had in mind
a number of questions: how did it come about that
mass enslavement of blacks took place with so little
in the way of moral qualms? Were there no sources of
resistance to the process? Did some traditions of
thought aid and abet the process, where others were
inconsistent with such practices? What did the
available general views of humankind offer in the
way of help or resistance to the gradual emergence of
distinctively racist ideologies? Following the recalcitrance of Indians in dying off, and the emergence
of systematic black slavery, did any views make it
easier to find a justification for distinguishing
blacks as suitable for slavery? These are legitimate
questions. The reason why the dispute has been
heated, and interesting, is that the charge has been
brought against the philosophical tradition, founded
by Bacon and Locke, of empiricism.

The starting point for the debate was an article
by Harry Bracken, a Canadian philosopher who is close
in views to Noam Chomsky [1]. This, and a subsequent
article [2], were supported by Chomsky in a volume of

interviews [3]. Bracken and Chomsky were heavily
criticised, first by the American philosophe~John
Searle [4], and more recently by Geoffrey Sampson [5]
who has included a blistering reply in the course of
a general critique of Chomsky. Oddly, to me, Russell
Keat’s review of this book in Radiaal Philosophy [6]
accepts this reply without reservations – although
the context of the reply is a hard rightwing ‘liberalism’ which directly informs Sampson’s critique of
Bracken and Chomsky.

I wish to review the debate, and clarify the
assumptions and weaknesses in both sides. Because it
is somewhat open to misunderstanding, I want to be
very clear about my purposes in doing this~ I am not
trying to say whether particular individuals were
personally racist. Nor am I intending to provide a
refutation of those ideas which I identify as giving
comfort to racism. Rather, I am interested in what
forms of ideas will do the job of giving such comfort.

Therefore I am not trying to give a new history of
racism. For that seems to me to be just the problem.

I want to ask the question: what will count as a
history of racism? [7]
It is not enough to know
which ideas about blacks, for example, have been the
most commonly held over time; we need criteria for
understanding which were the most significant and
powerful beliefs in justifying racist practices. One
way to do this, for example, is to look at the forms
those beliefs took at times when racist practices
were under attack’ for it is then that they seem to
take the most chiselled, worked-out forms. It is
therefore a question of looking at the kinds of
logical relations there are between such ideas and
racist practices.

In saying this, I am aware that I am setting myself against several traditions that are quite
influential. One would see racism in terms of prejudices, essentially non-rational attitudes. A
second would regard the history of racism as predominantly one of economic and social power-relations,
only eclectically and opportunistically borrowing
ideas when they suited. The third tradition would
see racism as a phenomenon of the nineteenth century,
a product of a crude biologism of that period.

Lastly, there is what I would call the UNESCO tradition, which assumes that racism necessarily means a
belief in racial superiority. This tradition (and
indeed, elements of the others) was very much set by
the post Second World War studies sponsored by UNESCO
into the nature of racism. Valuable though they are,

they pose considerable problems.

In the first place, a great deal of work has been
done in recent years on the nature and role of
scientific racism [8]. Among other things, such work
shows that, very often, ideas that have been around
and active for a long time can later be given a
scientific guise – and then use the appeal of science
as part of their public image, making dangerous ideas
respectable. The crude biologism of the nineteenth
century had such a history, which needs to be traced.

The very power, though, of scientific racism should
be enough to cast doubt on the adequacy of views of
racism as simply non-rational or eclectic. The
evidence, for example, of Chorover and Kamin may be
taken from the present century [9], but the lessons
of their discoveries go much wider. And my own work
on the new racism of post-War Britain must undermine
the UNESCO assumption about the form of racism [10].

This was not intended as a proper appraisal of
these alternative traditions. I only hoped to indicate that there is properly a space for an argument
about what ideas could act as resources for racism,
even when laid down in apparently innocent materials.

My aim is to use the debate about empiricism as a
platform from which I can investigate some of the
kinds of argument that could be relevant to these
questions: what will count as a history of racism?

and what ideas are of a form that they can be effective in providing support for racist practices?

The Case for the Prosecution

Bracken’s case is aimed centrally at John Locke’s
of ideas. He identifies four elements in Locke’s
epistemological revolution that could play a role in
enabling a justification of black slavery. These are:

Locke’s anti-essentialism; a tally-model for determining the nature of entities; choice-preference in
determining what to include; and the ‘blank tablet’

conception of mind. All these are set against the
alternative Cartesian tradition in which, crucially,
mind is seen as an essential discriminating characteristic of humans. We are ‘thinking things’; this is
our essence, according to Descartes.

Locke on the other hand denies that we can ever
know the essence of objects. We know only what is
presented to us through our senses; and all perceptual
aspects of an object can be equally essential to it.

‘Gold’ is Locke’s favourite example. The colour,
weight, malleability and so on are all equally part
of it. We only know what gold is through our perception of these characters. Learning a concept ‘gold’

is maklng a taZZy of the characters we find present

Because we cannot know essences, we can choose to
identify gold by one character rather than another.

This is choice-preference. We can treat colour, for
example, as a defining character of gold; this is
logically permissible within Locke’s scheme. And we
can do the same for human beings. Colour can be the
basis for distinguishing between people. Bracken
quotes Locke, to show that this is not a hypothetical
possibility only. It is one of which Locke was well

‘A child having framed the Idea of a Man, it is
probable, that his Idea is just like that picture,
which the painter makes of his visible Appearances
jointed together; and such a Complication of Ideas
together in his Understanding, makes up the
single complex Idea which he calls Man, whereof
White or Flesh Colour in England being one, the
Child can demonstrate to you, that a Ne~ is
not a Man, because White-colour was one of the
constant simple Ideas of the complex Idea he
calls Man: And therefore he can demonstrate by


the Principle, It is impossible for the same
Thing to be, and not to be … that a Negro is
not a Man.’ [11]
A further consequence is that, because people can be
defined by visible characters, it is possible to show
gradients of humanity. Bracken quotes Locke to the
effect that nature reveals a continuum without
‘chasms or gaps’, with ‘descent by easy steps’ from
us to everything else [12].

The fourth element, the tabula rasa conception,
has an apparent egalitarianism, Bracken concedes.

But he argues that it carries the logical possibility
of manipulation ‘because the model carries with it
the need for a group which will be charged with
w’wri ting” on the blank tablets’ [13].

The chief difference between Bracken’s two
articles is that the second is, in a sense, more
forthright and confident than the first. In the
earlier one he concluded that the connection is
historical, rather than logical or conceptual. The
later article, however, states, the relationship
more strongly: ‘To be specific, I contend that Locke
provided us with a model of man in terms of which
racism could be readily stated’ [14]. Bracken
proceeds to quote important historical evidence that
various opponents of Lockeian empiricism (including
Leibniz, Morgan Godwyn and some Scottish philosophers) explicitly attacked racist doctrines and slavery
on the grounds of common humanity, demonstrated by all
equally having minds. On the other hand, an associate
of Lo~ke’s, Francois Bernier, in 1684 published a
book which sorted humankind into ‘four or five different species’, using blackness of the African as a
distinguishing mark. This book was in locke’S

Two last remarks in presenting Bracken’s case.

He argues that David Hume’s comment on Negroes,
contained in his essay ‘Of National Character’,
comes from the same stable. Hume wrote~
‘I am apt to suspect that negroes, and in
general all the other species of men (for
there are four or five different kinds) to be
naturally inferior to the whites. There never
was a civilised nation of any other complexion
than white, nor even any individual eminent
either in action or speculation. No ingenious
manufactures among them, no arts, no sciences.

Such a uniform and constant difference
could not happen, in so many countries and ages,
if nature had not made an original distinction
betwixt these breeds of men.’ [15]
Certainly justification of such an opinion by referring to ‘a uniform and constant difference’ would
seem fairly to bracket Hume with Locke (quite apart
from the obvious reference to Bernier’s work). For
Hume altered Locke’s doctrine of essences by his
account of customs and habits as the source of all
reliable knowledge. And this connects with Bracken’s
last claim, that the empiricist approach to knowledge
underpins the search for correlations between, for
example, colour and brain-weight, colour and facial
angle, colour and IQ, and so on. Such bogus correlations have clearly been one important source of
racist encouragement.

Chomsky adds little except his personal support to
Bracken’s arguments and evidence. He insists that
Cartesian dualism offers a ‘modest conceptual barrier’

to racism, because it will not admit ‘black minds’ or
‘white minds’. This embodies, however, an important
clarification. Chomsky distinguishes sharply between
‘theories that assign a determinate social status to
individuals or groups by virtue of their alleged
intrinsic nature, and theories that hold that there
are some biological constants characteristic of the
species’ [16]. This is important because it under7

mines the countercriticism of both Searle and Sampson,
that a Chomsky-style rationalism has more to offer a
racist than does empiricism. They claim it is a
‘short step’ from admitting that there are biological
bases to human mental structures, to admitting different bases in different races. This is to misunderstand the nature of Chomsky’s neo-Cartesianism. His
procedure is strictly Kantian; it is to ask what are
the necessary preconditions of the general human
capacity of language; and his conclusion is that
these must be biological. This form of argument does
not admit the possibility of distinctions in the
nature of the biological base between different
peoples, according to which one could be graded
superior/inferior to the other.

Despite this clarification, the case against
empiricism is primarily Bracken’s, as Chomsky himself
says. The replies of Searle and Sampson do not
always recognise this.

The Case for the Defence
Searle makes his criticism in the course of a
brilliant review of the differences between himself
and Chomsky over the nature of language. His first
and major claim is that Chomsky and Bracken have misunderstood what empiricism is. They appear to treat
it as a theory of the sources of knowledge, whereas
it is in fact a theory of ‘how knowledge claims are
validated’, and only ‘derivatively of how they are

acquired’. It is not a ‘learning theory’ which their
reading of the quotation about the child learning
what a ‘Man’ is, might suggest. Locke does not have
to agree with the child, Searle implies. He is
presumably only exemplifying that there are no tests
of beliefs other than human experience.

He presses the case further by denying any necessary connection between empiricism and behaviourist
psychology. Since empiricism is a theory of the
validation of knowledge-claims, it is not at all
incompatible with theories of innate biological
tendencies in the mind. And he cites Hume’s title
(A Treatise of Human Natu~e) against Chomsky’s
claim that empiricism denies that there is any human
nature. He sums up:

‘I have now read over these passages alleging
a connection between racism and empiricism on
the one hand and Cartesianism and freedom on the
other several times, and I would like very much
to think that I am misunderstanding what Chomsky
is saying. Otherwise, it is hard to interpret
them in ways that do not render then quite unacceptable. Neither the great rationalists
– Descartes, Leibniz and ~pinoza, nor the great
empiricists – Locke, Berkeley, Hume and their
modern followers such as Pierce, Carnap and

Quine – were engaged in facilitating a racist
ideology. ‘


Searle’s comments are a snarl, really, in the
course of a review with essentially other purposes.

Sampson’s, by contrast, are a chunk of a full-length
critique of Chomsky. The stance from which the
critique proceeds is frankly rightwing. I am therefore puzzled by the kindness of Keat’s review towards
an argument that can virtually open with this

‘I would have thought that belief in the
inferiority of groups of humans identifiable by
any criteria as “strangers” was one of the
instinctive prejudices which is common to all
men, and which we must all strive to overcome.’


But let us take his critique seriously. He claims
that Bracken and Chomsky have ‘done nothing to
suggest why an empiricist should be more inclined
than a rationalist towards racism’ [19].

In part he builds on semi-factual claims. For
example, he queries how sure the evidence is of
Locke’S personal involvement in the development of
slavery. He argues that if Bracken and Chomsky were
right there ought to be visible difference in national tendencies to racism, according to the strength of
empiricism or rationalism. But Germany, with its
strong rationalist tradition (and virtually no empiricist tradition until the twentieth century) has hard·
ly been free of racism.

Sampson points to a very large gap between admit·
ting that empiricism focusses attention on external
influences on behaviour (which is true) and deducing
that members of one race are justified in manipulat·
ing those of another (which, of course, he denies).

Indeed, insofar as manipulation involves claims to
special expertise, what of the traditional empiricist
denial that anyone is without reservation an ‘expert’?

As Sampson says, there is a longstanding view that
wants experts ‘on tap, not on top’. For everyone
has limited experience, circumscribed understanding;
and no one has a direct access to perfect truth.

Sampson takes a position towards Locke’s personal
racism very like that of sociologist Michael Banton
[20]. In Locke’s time, he argues, it was common to
see separate biological species, of which negroes
might well be one. If Locke’s political attitudes
reveal an inconsistency with his political theory,
in seeming to deny to negroes the rights his political theory ascribes to humans generally, that is just
the result of his times. ‘It seems merely anachr,onistic to accuse Locke of failing to acknowledge their
right to be counted as fellow human beings’ [21].

This enables him to excuse Locke’s philosophical principles, seeing the sources of Locke’S personal racism
in his ‘factual ignorance’ [22].

It would be possible to dispute Sampson’s further
discussions of racism on a whole series of issues.

He mythologises the British Empire scandalously, and
also the process of the abolition of slavery. And he
falls, hook, line, and sinker, for Jensen’s argument,
doing a neat disparaging job on Jensen’s opponents on
the way. But my purpose here is to discuss only the
Bracken/Chomsky thesis. So, in retrospect, what are
the main counterclaims that he and Searle have made?

1. Bracken and Chomsky are confused over the
nature of the philosophical doctrine known as empiricism;
2. Empiricism is not incompatible with theories
of human nature which would regard us as resistant to
3. There is too large a gap between the general
principles of empiricism, and the justification of
racist practices, and on the way any number of

illegal moves would have to be made, including jumping the fact/value fence, in order to make the
4. There is no evidence that empiricists individually, or nations influence0 by empiricism, were
more racist than rationalists:

S. Locke’s personal racism was a function of his
times, not of his doctrines.

I want to disagree with Searle and Sampson on all

A Consideration of the Debate
1. It is part of the current mythology of much
Western philosophy that epistemology has to do with
the conditions of valid knowledge, not with the
psychological origins of ideas. The distinction
Searle offers, between the sources and validation of
knowledge-claims, is in direct line of descent here.

I want to suggest it is absurd.

I think it is doubtful, first of all, that Locke
ever held to such a distinction. Indeed, if he had,
I wonder what would have been the point of all the
invective against the doctrine of innate ideas?

Presumably, it was because Locke saw a danger that,
so long as the doctrine survived, there would be
claims, because of their origins, to the privileged
status of certain ideas as regards truth. Of course,
his method of attack was to show that, in fact, it
was not possible to identify any ideas which had the
intuitive obviousness which the doctrine of innate
ideas seemed to require. (Actually, that is doubtful,
but never mind.) But in arguing this, he revealed an
acceptance that there is an interconnection between
theories of the origin of ideas and theories of their
possible validation. I do not particularly wart to
make a biographical case about Locke since the point
at issue is a logical one. But before proceeding to
make the logical case in any further detail, let uS
get clear what Bracken and Chomsky need to establish.

Contrary to the bowdlerised version regularly
presented by empiricists in dealing with this matter,
those who oppose a distinction between sources and
validation of ideas are not arguing that to know
whether something is true, you must first look at how
someone got the idea. Opposition to this distinction
can come from a number of distinct propositions, not
all of which are relevant to the Bracken/Chomsky

The first of these nicely points up the fact that
the whole formulation of the issue and its discussion
has taken place from within the empiricist problematic. ‘For implicitly, and without recognising what
they were doing, many empiricists have acknowledged
that a watertight distinction cannot be maintained.

Many sceptical arguments have taken the form of
arguing that, for X to count as valid knowledge, it
must pass tests T. However, we are so constructed
and our sources of information are such, that we can
never satisfy T. Therefore all – or much – that
passes for knowledge must be put in doubt. This form
of argument implicitly accepts that there is a significant connection between what we can validly claim
to know, and the sorts of access to the world we, as
a matter of fact, have. Ever so many empiricist
epistemologists have felt it necessary to combat such
arguments, precisely because it becomes such a problem because of empiricist theory. Because empiricism
has placed such a value on the concept of experience,
and the reducibility of all knowledge-claims to
experience while at the same time acknowledging that
in reality no one ever comes to make knowledge-claims
like that, there is a permanent tendency in empiricism towards scepticism.

The first form of connection between sources and

validation of ideas I am asserting, therefore, is
that an epistemology asserts what, among the sources
available to us, will be llsalJle as warranties “.f’

knowledge. And it actually seems to me that this is
all that Bracken and Chomsky need to assert for their
argument to hold water. If it be objected that this
is not what is at issue about the relation of source
and validity of ideas, then let us look at the example
from Locke again. Is Locke bound to accept that the
child who thinks that ‘a Negro is not a Man’ has concluded properly, on the basis of what evidence could
be available to him/her? I think there is a strong
case to be made that Locke must. On Locke’S epistemology, all that could confirm or disconfirm the child’s
ideas is more of the same. But since all experiences
are equal according to Locke, there is no particular
reason why the child should accept what a critic says.

After all, his/her experience to date has all confirmed that colour is a distinguishing mark between
humans and non-humans. And, especially given that
colour is a primary quality for Locke, the name
‘human’ can be withheld with full logic.

Bracken’s point seems to me to be precisely this;
Locke’s epistemology has made the child’s logic irresistible. But for all that I think this is all
Bracken has to claim, the point at issue is of sufficient importance to be worth taking further. It
might be replied, for example, to the above case that
while experience is our only source of evidence, we
have an independent source of evaluation of evidence
in logic. And Locke’s epistemology includes this:

otherwise what was he doing in propounding an epistemology which is, after all, a logical investigation of

The problem is the kind of role that logic can
play in the evaluation of experiences and beliefs, in
Locke’s account. If logic can be reduced to a series
of a priori principles, against which all knowledgeclaims must be tested, then the princip-les’ themselves
must be empty of significant content, as far as the
construction of truth is concerned. This allows us to
draw a distinction between the determination and the
regulation of truth by logic. Analogously, we can say
that the construction of a car is regulated by, but
not determined by, the laws of stress of materials.

Even an epistemology that admits logic as an independent element (with all the attendant problems of how we
are supposed to know it, and what on earth has happened when we make a mistake) has not done enough to
avoid the possibility that the knowledge people have
may Zogically include ideological elements. And this
is what is at issue.

For Bracken’s case is as follows. What would a
person who follows a Lockean epistemology see as the
valid way of discovering the essential differences or
similarities between human beings? And how would that
person evaluate a belief that colour is a distinguishing mark between humans and non-humans? Because
empiricism places its focus of attention on senseexperience, it is systematically loaded in favour of
some answers to that question, as against others.

2. It might seem that Searle is on strong ground
in his second criticism. After all, ‘all blank
slates are equal’, says Sampson, we might add ‘by
definition’. Emptiness is a great leveller. But I
am not so certain that the ground is unassailable.

It is difficult not to be reminded ay Bracken’s argument of Marx’s fourth thesis on Feuerbach:

‘The materialist doctrine that men are products
of circumstances and upbringing, and therefore
that changed men are the result of altered
circumstances and different upbringing, forgets
that it is men who change circumstances and that
the educator must be educated. Hence this
doctrine arrives at dividing society into two

parts, one of which is superior to society’. [23]
Whether or not this is a standard interpretation of
this quote, the following seems to make much sense.

I take Marx to mean that the living out of such a
mechanical materialist doctrine must force adherents
to view others as passive. As a political doctrine
(in the hands, for example, of Skinner), it becomes a
recipe for manipulation in order to get the best from
them, and achieve the best for them. Of course it is
inconsistent with the doctrine, since the manipulators themselves must be the outcome of conditioning
experiences. But the logical inconsistency does not
alter the fact that someone who accepts the doctrine
and tries to live it out will tend to see others’

environments and experiences, and therefore responses,
as moveable feasts. Indeed, the inconsistency is one
of the very grounds for criticising such views. And
it is precisely with the logic of living out empiricism that Bracken and Chomsky are concerned.

That is not the whole answer to Searle on this
point. Part has already been dealt with in attacking
the sources/validity distinction. The final part
will have to wait. For up to a point I think that
Searle and Sampson are right here. But their rightness is the ground for even greater worry about the
empiricism/racism connection, not less. I shall
re~urn to this after reviewing their other replies
to Bracken and Chomsky.

3. This is a complicated claim. Among the senses
which could be given to it, is the feeling that
philosophy is too abstract and removed a discipline
to be either for or against so specific a phenomenon
as racism. This might especially seem to be the case
with epistemology, whose purpose apparently is to consider the nature of human knowledge. Or it could be
that an implicit claim is being made about the nature
of racism – that it is, typically, a set of nonrational prejudices which could have little to do
with philosophy which, even at its most empiricist,
is an exercise in rationality. Then again it could
be read as entailing a theory/practice distinction.

This last would seem then to have some overlap with
the assertion that a fact/value distinction has been
illegally breached.

I feel forced to insist on such clarification
because the reply in each case would be different.

In each case, the detailed version of my comments
can wait until I develop my own case towards the end.

Here I only hint at the nature of the replies in a
preparatory way. The notion of philosophy as
essentially abstracted from human affairs depends in
part on the ability to compartmentalise areas of
philosophy. I shall try to show on the contrary that,
at least in the case of Hume, the epistemology is
tightly interconnected with a coherent and dangerous
politics. The second claim, concerning the nature of
racism, is subject to many criticisms which I cannot
here go into. I would only say that there is a form
of connection possible, in which a phiZosophy concerning the nature of human feelings and thoughts so
describes them that they implicitly warrant or
approve them. So, even if – which I don’t accept racism were primarily a matter of individual prejudices, there can be a significant relation between
a philosophy and such unpleasant attitudes [24]. An
extension of this case will show the inadequacy of a
defence based on a theory/practice or a fact/value
distinction. For the philosophy I shall show at work
is one involving concepts that must bridge such
distinctions: concepts not unlike biologistic concepts
of ‘instinct’, ‘natural tendency’ and ‘human nature’.

4. This criticism misses the mark. It was not ‘the
intention of Bracken to offer a causal explanation of
racism. He carefully stresses that empiricism would
at worst have been an enabling contributor to the

development of racism. Nor does he suggest – as
Searle seems to imply – that there had to be some
doctrine of emipricism to do the dirty work of validating racism. Among other things, as I shall show
shortly, it is not the only or even the best theory
for doing such a job.

The fact that Germany has had a native racism
without English-style empiricism is nothing against
Bracken’s thesis. On the other hand, it does open up
a question about the conditions under which such
theories emerge. Let us assume – what surely is
commonsensically obvious, given the role of social
Darwinism in relation to Nazism – that appropriate
theories can play important roles in facilitating
racism. Under what conditions, then, do participants
in racist practices feel the need to theorise those
practices? Under what conditions do observers of
such practices produce theories that, whether intended or not, tend to authorise or ‘naturalise’ them?

These are important questions. The fact that Bracken
does not try to answer them is no criticism, since
his intention was to show that Lockean empiricism
enabled a conceptual warranty to be placed on racism.

That is an important argument in itself, since if
successful it breaches the argument for the neutrality
of philosophy – something in which I have an interest.

As to the personal attitudes of empiricists and
rationalists, Bracken has made at least a preliminary
case, when he cites for example Beattie and Ramsay
criticising Hume’s comment (cited above). Ramsay for
example attacks Hume’s denial that ‘the soul is a
simple substance, not to be distinguished by squat or
tall, black, brown or fair’ [25]. I await counterevidence.

5. The peculiar near-relativism of Sampson’s
excuse for Locke is not good enough. Given the failure of other criticisms, Bracken’s case stands that
Locke’S racism was not an aberration from his doctrines, but could well have been an expreossion of his
philosophical doctrine of knowledge. Not an inevitable one, but an enabled one.

But I cannot pass the suggestion that division of
humanity into races was accepted unquestioningly at
the time. This is simply untrue. In the first place,
it makes it sound as if it were a matter of later
scientific knowledge overthrowing a first stab at a
factual investigation. That is not true. English
people knew of the debate in Papal circles about the
status of American Indians which ended (after Las
Casas’ arguments) with the judgement that we are all
one race under God. The whole point of this argument
was, not to conclude some neutral scientific point,
but about how to treat the Indians. If it is argued
that such a Catholic view would be likely to be discarded, then so much the worse for Protestantism as
well as empiricism. But in fact race theorising was
not really underway to any great extent until a
hundred years later (a point of significance when we
compute the relative importance of Locke and Hume in
this connection). It was Thomas Jefferson who gave
one of the earlies~ systematic attempts to discriminate bases for asserting black inferiority. Hardly
had he done so, than Samuel Stanhope Smith (1788)
delivered a powerful counterblast to both him and
another early systematic racist, Lord Kames. Why
should we excuse John Locke when the theory was undeveloped, if at a time of growing popularity and use
others could so effectively demolish its pretensions?


Bracken’s Weaknesses
Having said all this, I do find Bracken’s thesis not
a very strong one, on other grounds. The first is in
fact expressed in passing by Sampson: ‘The fact is

that neither Locke nor his contemporaries appear to
have seriously considered the philosophical implications of negro slavery’ [27]. Despite the incipient
democracy of the Army debates and the movements of
Diggers, Levellers and Ranters, Locke was not particularly bothered by questions of the underclasses.

Laslett’s careful work [28] on the dating of the
theory of politics shows its clear links with the
bourgeois democrats of the time. And since his theory
stemmed from a theory of property, the problem did
not easily arise. There is plenty of reason to
suppose that both the Essay Conaerning Human Understanding and the Seaond Treatise on GOvernment were
addressed to particular audiences of ‘liberals’.

They were focussed on British problems, and would be
only marginally interested in an issue such as
slavery. Therefore it does seem to me that the
possibilities of a mild justification of colourprejudice were much more a useful (still, thoroughly
unpieasant) by-product of a theory produced for other

Apart from this, for all that Bracken’s chief
quotation from Locke does show the latter’s awareness
of the race issue, Bracken has been somewhat unfaithful to the source of the quote. It occurs in Locke’S
discussion of ‘maxims’, or self-evident propositions.

Lock~ makes a twofold case about these: first, that
in themselves they can add nothing to the proof or
disproof of substantive propositions; and second,
that they are positively dangerous when treated as
additional tests of assertions made on other grounds.

In a Baconian sense, words can fool us. Suppose we
argue to the effect that gold is not soluble, but
then find a ‘sample’ dissolved in acid. If we
apply the maxim that ‘the same thing cannot both be
and not be’, we might say that we have prov~d that
the latter is not gOld. Of course, we have not, says
Locke; we have been gulled merely by the power of

It is here that he uses the example of the child
affirming that ‘a Negro is not a Man’. It is an
example of the inclusion of a truism neither adding
to nor subtracting from the original assertion.

Locke proceeds to contrast the child’s case with
‘Another’ who has ‘gone further in framing and
collecting the Idea he calls Man, and to the natural
shape adds Laughter, and RationaZ Disaourse’ [29].

This person will naturally arrive at other boundaries
to the concept of the ‘human’. And slhe could apply
the same maxim with an equal apparent gain but real
absence of effect on the effectivity of the argument.

Locke’s purpose, then, is to eliminate appeals to
abstract reasoning beyond substantive evidence. To
this extent, Bracken has done a disservice by snatching the quotation out of context. And insofar as
Locke would be justified in saying that the second
person had ‘gone further’ by adding other aspects to
the concept ‘man’, it would weigh against Bracken’s
case altogether. For that would seem to show that it
was inadequate to build the concept on a use of
colour as chief discriminant, and that a better theory
will embrace more characteristics.

The case made by Bracken for treating Hume in the
same regard is equally thin. The quotation is nasty,
it is true. But again its context is significant.

It occurs as a footnote, probably added to the second
edition, in his essay ‘Of National Character’. But
this essay precisely spends much time disputing that
it is right to see different national characters as
the result of different inherited natures. Hume
insists that these can only really be read as differences in customary life and traditions. The footnote
has all the appearance of an aside. It is indeed
difficult to reconcile with the main tenets of the
essay. It is a nasty observation rather than a

theory warranting racism.

Furthermore there is a general reason for thinking
that Hume could not consistently adopt a racism of
this sort. Let us suppose that we could be certain
that Hume believed in a major way in the inferiority
of other ‘races’. On the basis of his own main philOsophical assertions, that would not be enough to
warrant any behaviour towards them on our part. For
Home is insistent that reason, whatever its discoveries, cannot motivate action. Only the ‘passions’ can
do that. The function of reason is, and ought only
to be, to guide our motives appropriately onto their
objects. Discrimination and other forms of racism
are modes of action, and need the prompting of a
motive: only then could a presumed inferiority come
into play.

Empiricism and Racism –

a different case

On the other hand, I think that there is a theory
warranting racism in Hume. And it arises precisely
in connection with his theory of motives. Overconcentration on that quotation has led us· to· miss it.

(Indeed, studies of what constitutes racism have, I
want to argue, overconcentratedon discussions of
COlour-difference, inequalities of intelligence, etc.)
There has been a somewhat hidden history of theories
of motivation that I believe we should clarify.

These do not always become explicit, as they are very
often expressed as conceptualisations of the relations
be~een ‘races’ (as opposed to the [intellectualist]
emphasis on the differenaes be~een races). They are
expressed, for example, in fears about ‘degeneration’,
and in discussions of the ‘natural’ tendencies of
‘races’ towards each other. But these implicit
notions of race-motivation are best understood in the
light of seeing the explicit ones.

It is important to see that ‘scientific’ evidence
and general images of black inferiority were not considered in their own time to warrant clearly one defina~le relation between the races.

[30] has made very clear, for example, that in the
l850s there were several available images of the
nature of blacks as compared to whites. Each of
these images (for example, of blacks as ‘slave of his
emotions, incapable of progressive development and
self-government because he lacked the white man’s
enterprise and intellect’, or as ‘singularly childlike, affectionate, docile and patient’ [31] was
widely held. But each could be used in connection
with different political programmes. The emotional,
‘tropical’ view was used both to defend slavery and
to warrant separation; while the ‘benign’ view was
used both to warrant slavery and to defend a romantic
anti-slavery. As Frederickson notes, there were
general beliefs among whites about the differences
between blacks and whites. The argument was over
which way of treating blacks was justified by their


As a sample of a modern version of this, I think
it fair to mention IQism, where Jensen and Eysenck
seem to see it as some sort of virtue that no precise
policy-proposals flow out of their attempt to prove a
difference between black and white intelligence.

They insist that their ‘results’ are compatible with
either segregation, separate education, massive
investment in black education, or the designing of
special education programmes for blacks – or even the
creaming off of the top blacks, while the (below)
average are treated according to one of the above.

What would securely justify one way of treating
them was a thesis about differences in motivational
patterns, or about incompatibility in motivational
patterns, or incompatibility of relatior,s because of
common motivational patterns. Arguments of the first
sort were made quite explicit in Rev. Haygood’s (1881)
‘Our Brother in Black’. There he built a theory
justifying segregation on a thesis about ‘race
instincts’. The race instinct, he argued, ‘will
never be satisfied till it realises itself in complete
separation. Whether we of the white race approve or
disapprove matters little’ [32]. Much the same case
was put by Henry Grady (1885) who argued that both
‘races’ desired to preserve their purity and essential
character; this was a ‘racial instinct’.

A., related case was made in the l890s by Frederick
Hoffman, who argued that blacks were doomed by
‘inherent racial tendencies’ to decline and disappearance (an interesting counterpoint to modern threats
of teeming black multiplication). All philanthropic
work was therefore bound to fail. Hoffman’s social
Darwinist case was premised on a ‘struggle for
survival’ view of the relations between the races.

(Hoffman’s case was powerful enough that virtually
all American insurance companies were convinced to
deny coverage to all negroes ‘on the grounds that
membership in the race by itself constituted an unacceptable actuarial risk’ [33].)
Of course it can easily appear to our eyes that
reference to such ‘instincts’ is an arbitrary addition to the arguments. One of the strengths of
social Darwinism in this respect was in permitting
the ‘deduction’ of racial instincts from evolutionary
processes. This took the forms indicated above. A
belief that seeking to preserve the ‘unfit’ was
unnatural informed John D. Rockefeller’s remark that:

‘Man was not created with an instinct for his own
degradation, but from the lower he had risen to the
higher forms’ [34]. Therefore it was natural to
allow the weak to go to the wall, and that meant weak
businesses, the poor and the blacks. It was correspondingly unnatural to do anything to help to preserve them.

It also took the form of a straightforward thesis
of incompatibility. This was particularly evident in
the writings of the early sociologists who asserted
unreservedly that there were inherited instincts prevailing against intermarriage and other forms of racemixing [35]. It is notable that this form of thinking often occurred as the racial instinct expressing
itself through traditions of cultural mores. Thus
the ‘loyalty we feel to our nation, group, customs
and traditions’ was an outcrop of our racial tendencies. This was an important, if now somewhat forgotten, strand of eugenicism.

It is significant that the use of a theory of
motivation only becomes explicit when slavery becomes
problematic. Before that, because of the largely
shared assumptions about how blacks should relate to
whites (they should obey, or be whipped), there was
not the necessity for overt argument. Nonetheless,
for a long time there had been implicit arguments of
various sorts about the motivational patterns that
set the relations between groups. Often, these came

coupled with the emergence, gradually, of the concept
of the nation as a defensible unit. One such argument was Hume’s. It is worth untangling it because
its relevance is not so much to the older forms of
pre- or post-slavery racism, as to the ‘new racism’

that has developed since the Second World War. The
reasons for the return to Hume are complex, and I do
not want to go into them here. But there has definitely been a return by, in this country, Conservative
politicians to Humean views – sometimes openly linked
to him [36].

In arguing that there is a form of motivational
racism in Hume, I know the risks. Academic heroes
are untouchables.

Especially they do not commit
sins like racism, and especially not in their
theories. But for reasons of space I cannot spend
the necessary time to deal with alternative approaches [37]. I will offer my case for consideration,
and leave it at that.

There is an ignored aspect of Hume’s writings from
which I have to begin; this is his emphasis on the
innateness of the tendency to associate ideas together. Thus he talks of association of ideas as a
‘kind of attraction’ which ‘must be resolved into
original qualities of human nature, which I pretend
not to explain’ [38]. He does not need to explain
them – leaving that, he says, to the natural sciences
– because he thinks he can demonstrate on logical
grounds the necessity of their presence. For how
else can we explain the way we link experiences which
have nothing in common with one another under a necessary connection, causation? Since causes are never
seen, it must be in our Nature to make links of this

The important thing for Hume is that the principle
of association of ideas is the basis, not only of our
knowledge, but of our actions. Early i’ri B’ook I of the
Treatise of Human Nature he remarks that it is ‘the
source of all the relations of interest and duty, by
which men influence each other in society, and are
placed in ties of government and subordination’ [39].

This is of critical importance. Hume sees the same
‘principles of human nature’ underpinning and making
possible both knowledge and morality. And indeed,
his primary interest is in the latter. There is a
very strong case to be made that the function of the
entire first book of the Treatise is negative and
ground-clearing, ridding philosophy of the spectre of
rationalistic epistemology, in order to make way for
the positive doctrines of Books 11-111. That is why
the first book ends with an odd self-immolation of
reason, in which, having demonstrated that reason that
outflies its own place becomes self-destructive, Hume
sinks back to the ground and says, in effect, that it
is all right really, since we can do by a m:~,xture of
instinct and common sense what reason canno’~ do. And
thereafter he turns his attention to the nature of
that instinct and common sense in his theory of

His moral argument proceeds from an examination of
motives, or ‘passions’. They must all share, he says,
a common feature which is reference to self. Hume
carefully distinguishes this view from egoism.

Egoism would make the mistake of seeing responses as
wholly innate, whereas all motives have a double
aspect. They relate to seZf and to an externaZ object.

And this double aspect, which admits the possibility
of my enjoying things that are not of immediate
benefi t to me, prescribes the limits of human nature:

‘ … fTom a primary constitution of nature certain
characters and passions, by their very view and
contemplation, produce a pain, and others in like
manner a pleasure’ [40]. And: ‘No action can be


required of us as a duty, unless there b~ implanted
in human nature some actuating passion OT motive,
capable of producing the action’ [41]. The link
between these facts and motivational racism is
provided precisely by the theory of knowledge, in
which firm ideas are based upon custom 0:’:- habit:

‘ … habit is nothing but one of the principles of
nature, and derives all its force from that origin’

[42]. The point to make in general about this link
is that, were it not for habit, we wouZd be e~oists.

But settled experience, and behaviour guided by the
accumulated habits of such settled experience, is
capable of moving beyond egoism. This leads in
several ways to the necessity of an anti-democpatic

(A) The first is sympathy, a semi-technical term
in Hume’s writings for the processes whereby people
who live together, who share a language and a culture,
come to care about each other:

‘Accordingly we find that where, besides the
general resemblance of our natures, there is
any peculiar similarity in our manners, or
character, or country, or language, it facilitates our sympathy’ [43].

Sympathy becomes the mechanism whereby others can
come to have a reference to my self. It provides, in
oth~r words, the link between egoism and altruism.

The minds of people become ‘mirrors to each other’

through living a common life.

Because of this, Hume’s conclusion seems to follow
logically enough:

‘It appears, that in the original frame of our
mind, our strongest affection is confined to
ourselves; our next is extended to our relations
and acquaintances; and it is only the weakest
which reaches to strangers and indifferent
persons’ [44].

And the basis of this is exactly what we would call
‘culture’: shared opinions, agreed because of a
shared way of life, where ‘judgements are always
attended with passion’ [45].


‘ … while each person loves hi~self better than
any other single person, and in his love to
others bears the greatest affection to his
relations and acquaintances, this must necessarily
produce an opposition of passions and a consequent
opposition of actions which cannot but be dangerous to the newly-established union’. [46]
If each person sought only the good of those for whom
he or she felt immediate sympathy, chaos would soon
reign; and humans would find the seeking of their own
good somewhat self-defeating, because of the perpetual opposition and conflict this would create. Hume
uses this argument, which follows again from his
premises, to establish the functions of government.

It is the function of good government, and of the
nation as a field of operation of a government, to
spread and even out altruism so that all can, within
a government’s boundaries, feel sympathy and feel
bound to all others. Language, law, culture, all
these produce the degree of homogeneity necessary for
altruism to function in security. Hence nationhood
is essential to peace and well-being.

(C) But of course, all this is far from being inevitable. Reason can only discover such connections
from experience. That is why, in his essay on the
‘Original Contract’, Hume scorns rationalist theories
of the origin of government (among which he counts
Locke’s), and why he is forced to lay great stress on
stability, continuity, and homogeneity – so that,
custom, habit, and thereby sympathy can gain and maintain their hold. That is why, in a not-quite-paradoxical sense, stable government is its own prerequisite:

‘Obedience or subjection becomes so familiar, that

most men never make any enquiry about its origin or
cause’ [47]. Stable government enables us to overcome the most dangerous tendency in ourselves:

‘There is no quality in human nature, which
causes more fatal errors in our conduct, than
that which leads us to prefer whatever is present
to the distant and remote.’ [48]
It is a problem of creating the conditions in which,
crudely, human self-interest sees it to be in its own
interest to be restrained and altruistic ‘since
itself alone restrains it’ [49]:

‘Here then is a proposition, which, I think, may
be regarded as certain, that it is onZy fpom the
seZfishness and confined geneposity of men, aZong
with the scanty ppovision natupe has made fop his
wants, that justice derives its origins.’ [50]
With security, property, proper hierarchy and justice
can appear. Too big and impersonal a society, or a
weakening of the bonds of sympathy therefore will
both lead to disturbance and disruption; and, if we
are lucky, to some people identifying the cause, and
leading politically the defence of the nation:

‘But when society has become numerous, and has
increased to a tribe or a nation, this interest
[in restraining ourselves for the benefi~ of
stability] is more remote; nor do men Sv readily
perceive, that disorder and confusion follow upon
any breach of these rules, as in a more narrow
and contracted society.’ [51]
Out of these three elements – limited sympathy,
primacy of government in enabling social cooperation,
and the need for stable ways of life in order that
the first two can operate – a racism can be constructed that sees strangers with ‘alien’ ways as a disruptive threat. They need not intend to be. Merely
by being here, they are. They disrupt the ‘homogeneous we’, to borrow a phrase of Enoch Powell’s. Hum~
gave first· expression at a philosophical level to
what Ivor Stanbrook MP expressed at a dirty political
level in 1976:

‘Let there be no beating about the bush. The
average coloured immigrant has a different
culture, a different religion and a different
language. This is what creates the problem.

It is not just because of race. The people in
our cities feel strongly about immigrants. I
believe that a preference for one’s own race is
as natural as a preference for one’s own family.

Therefore it is not racialism, if by that one
means as I do, an active hostility to another
race. It is simply human nature.’ [52]
It is a theory linking race and nation through biology. It makes us motivated tOhlaPdS our own people
and against outsiders who disturb us.

What are the key elements in Hume’s philosophy
that make this possible?

(1) The empiricist claim that we can only be
certain of those things that have been regularly
experienced. Thus does tradition become god. To
envision a future in which people might live internationally, liking cultural variation and the mixing
of people, is to indulge in dangerous, rationalistic
fantasising. It is contrary to sound practice and to
human nature.

(2) The doctrine of sympathy – a doctrine remarkably close to the racist concept of sympathy used by
William MacDougall [53] and to sociobiology’s picture
of the tribal extension of genetic selfishness and
altruism [54] – which deems our caring for those from
whom we cannot expect reciprocal returns, ‘pity’ – a
pale poor reflection of real sympathy which comes
from sharing a whole way of life. And only sympathy
can really motivate us. Therefore ‘dark strangers’

have everything going against our caring.

(3) But above all, the split between reason and

passion, which Hurne inscribes at the heart of his
philosophy, is the lynch-pin. The passions are
innate; they are instincts without the vocabulary of
biology, but understood in a surprisingly modern way
as tendencies to behave which require environmental
completion and direction. For all that, they remain
instincts. To attempt to thwart them by ignoring
their demands is to pave the way to chaos. This is
the point of the double statement by Hurne of their
relation: ‘Reason is, and ought only to be, the slave
of the passions’ [55]. The instincts cannot be
defeated by thinking. They will operate whatever the
context. But we can use our reason to direct the
instincts to their goals successfully. And here, it
means simply, that while we have the chance we must
use our reason – based on our traditions etc. – to
create a political context in which national homogeneity and a shared way of life will make the
expression of our instincts harmless and peaceable.

And that means keeping out the blacks.

The case I am making about Hume, and through him
about empiricism, is that the chief connection
between empiricism and racism resides not in any
accentuation of the significance of colour, but in
the acceptance of a reason/motivation split. Motivation is already a proto-biological concept in Hume,
and it easily becomes fully biological in the hands
of later thinkers. And the resultant social Darwinism has regularly been racist.

A sample of a later use of such a distinction for
racist purposes can be seen in the following:

‘Non-rational judgements, being the product of
suggestion, will have the quality of instinctive
opinion, or, as we may call it, belief in the
strict sense ..•. When therefore we find ourselves
entertaining an opinion about the basis of which
there is a quality of feeling which tells us that
to inquire into it would be absurd, obviously
unnecessary, unprofitable, undesirable, bad form,
or wicked, we may know that that opinion is a
non-rational one, and probably, therefore,
founded on inadequate evidence.

Opinions, on the other hand, which are acquired
as the result of experience alone do not possess
this quality of primary certitude. They are true
in the sense of being verifiable, and they are
accompanied by that profound feeling of truth
which belief possesses, and therefore we have no
sense of reluctance in admitting inquiry into
them.’ [56]
Thus did William Trotter distinguish two brands of
opinion, one of which is biologically aroused. From
such a basis, he constructs an account of the nature
of group aggression, militant nationalism and racism
which makes them biologically inevitable. His book




Harry Bracken, ‘Essence, Accident and Race’, Hsromathsna, No.CXVI, Winter
1973, pp.81-96.

Harry Bracken, ‘Philosophy and Racism’, PhiZ.osophia (Israel), Vol.8, Nos.

2-3, November 1978, pp.241-60.

Noam Chomsky, Reflections on Languaes, Temple Smith, 1976.

John Searle, ‘The Rules of the Language Game’, Times Litsl’al’Jj SuppZfJlTlent,
10 September 1976.

Geoffrey Sampson, Libezoty and Language, Oxford university Press, 1979.

Russell Keat, Review of Sampson, ‘Liberty and Language’, Radical PhiZoBophy
25, SUlllller 1980, pp.35-39.

For an article which begins in a significant way to explore this question,
see Hannah Arendt, ‘Race-thinking before Racism’, RstJiBIJ of Politics, 1946,
pp.36-73. Arendt distinguishes usefully, for example, between theories of
race and status which are premised on a declining aristocracy (for example,
Gobineau), and later racist conversions of such thinking.

For example, Allan Chase, The Legacy of Malthus, Alfred Knopf, 1976.

Stephan Chorover, Fzoom Genesis to Genocide, MlT Press, 1979; and Leon
Kamin, The Science and Politics of IQ, Wiley, 1974.

Martin Barker, The NSbJ Racism, Junction Books, 1981.

.John Lode, An Essay Concezoning Human lIndezostanding, Book IV, vii., para .16,
quoted in Bracken, ‘Philosophy and Racism’, p.246.

title, Instinats of the Herd in Peaae and Wa~, tells
much of this theme. He belongs to that school of
late social Darwinism around William MacDougall,
whose sophisticated racism was much admired by rising
National Socialism in Germany. That racism found a
way, via the separation of reason and instinct, to
link the findings of eugenic ism to a theory of racial
motivation, expressed as the herd or nation.

It was an aspect of this same theory that led
Henry Fairchild, one of the most notable eugenicists,
to prefer the phrase ‘consciousness of kind’ to
‘racism’ [57]. And of course it has long been my
claim that this is the typical form which a new postNazi racism is taking. It is very explicit in
Britain, but shows signs of developing elsewhere. Its
theoretical carrier, despite the claims to neutrality
of its practitioners, is the ‘new’ science of sociobiology [58]. Should we then be at all surprised
when E.O. Wilson, the godfather of this approach,
finds a theoretical forbear for his ideas on the
genetic nature of xenophobia, in one, David Hume? [59].

In summary, then, what I have tried to do in this
paper is to defend Bracken and Chomsky against some
poor criticisms. But I believe that they have missed
what is the most powerful and dangerous link betwep.n
empiricism and racism. This rests in the consequences
of the reason/passion distinction. Of course, one ou~
come of stressing this, rather than an epistemological,
connection is that we must query the unity of the
Trinity of Locke, Berkeley and Hume. Despite later
philosophy’s tendency to see them as steps on the
gradient Qf epistemological empiricism, we need to
notice that Hume’s views on the source and power of
the ‘passions’ are quite different from Locke’s, and
engage, as we have seen, with a quite distinctive
political outlook.

It does seem to me important to extract this theme
of motivational racism. It is a question too little
asked what theories can do the job of fully warranting
discriminatory practices against minorities. Why, for
example, do racists so frequently turn to biology for
supporting arguments? The traditional view is that
they gain there, primarily, pseudo-methods of classifying races typologically. I suggest that it has much
more to do with the discovery, in reductionist evolutionary biology, of inevitabilist accounts of motivation. There are obviously further questions to be
asked in the analysis of racist ideologies; I claim
no more than to haVe elucidated the ideological
structure of some racist arguments, as against those
who have indiscriminately listed all forms of thought
on race that seem to be in need of rejection [60].

Concentration on motivational rather than taxonomic
theories of race (for all that the latter are important) certainly for me throws more’ light on the
crucial, current forms of racism. And that matters.


Harry Bracken, op.cit., p.247.

Harry Bracken. 01′ .tnt., p. 249.

Harry Bracken. ‘Philo.ophy and Racism’, p.243.

oavid Hume, el”y ‘0£ National Character’, quoted in Bracken, op.cit.,

Nob Chomsky, op.oolt., p.9!.

John Searle, Zoe.colt.

Geoflrty Sampson, op.cit., pp.131-32.


See Michael Banton, ‘What do we mean by “racialism”?’, NflIJ Society, 10 April

Geo££rey Sampson, op.c{.t., p.135.

Geoffrey SallplOn, op.tnt., p.l36.

Karl Marx, ThB Gel’man I@ology, Lawrence & Wishart, 1965, p.646.

I have tried to explore luch a relationship in my The NebJ Racism, pp.4-5.

Harry Bracken, op .cit., p. 256.

See Georg. M. Frederickson, The Black Image in the White Mind, Harper, 1972.

Geoffrey Sampson, op.cit., p.I34.

Peter Laslett, Introduction to John Locke’s ~ Essays on Civil GotJezonmsnt,
Cambridge University Press, 1970.

John Locke, An Essay Concezoning Human lIndezostanding (ed. Nidditch). Oxford
University Press, 1975, p.60.

George M. Frederickson, op.cit., pp.100-02.



Rev. Atticus Haygood, Oul’ Brother in Bl.ack, quoted in George M. Frederickson,


op.cit., p.218.


George M. Frederickson, op.cit., pp.249-50.

John D. Rockefeller, quoted in Richard Hofstadter, Social. 1l:m.Iinism in


American Thought, Beacon Press, 1955, p.45.


See, for eXUlple, W.I. Thomas, ‘The psychology of race prejudice, American
Journal. of Sociol.ogy, vol.lX, no.5, March 1904, pp.593-6ll; U.G. Weatherley,
‘Race and marriage’, American Journal. of Sociol.ogy, vol.XV, no.4, January
1910, pp.433-53; John M. t.lecklin, ‘The philosophy of the colour line’,

American Journal. of Sociol.ogy, vOl.19, 1913, pp.343-57.

36 For a self-conscious, explicit use of HuIIe in this connection, see lan
Gilllour, Inside Right, Hutchinson, 1977, especially pp.53-58 and 148-49.

37 I have gone SOIIe way towards doing this in my The New Raciem.

38 David HUIIIe, A Treatise of Human Nature, Book I, Fontana, 1962, p.56.




David Hume,
David HuIIe,
David HuIIe
David Hume,
David HuIIe,
David Huiae,
David HuIIe,
David HuIIe,
David HuIIe,
David Hume,

A Treatise Of Human Nature, Books 11 11 Ill, Fontana, 1972, p.47.

op.cit., p.247.

A Treatise, Book I, p. 230.

A Treatise, Books 11 11 11 I, p. 73.

op.cit., p.219.

op.cit., p.76.

op.cit., pp.218-19.

Essays, /4:)ml. and Pol.itioal., Ward, Lock and Tyler, n.d., p.272.

A Treatise, Books 11 11 Ill, p. 264 .

op.cit., p.223.

op.cit., p.225.


David flume, op.cit., p.228.

Ivor Stanbook, speech i.n the Parliamentary debate on illllligration, Hansard,
House of COIlll1OllS Report,S July 1976, p.1409.

See especially William MacDougall, The GztOup Mind, Cambridge University
Press, 1924.

See especially E.O. “‘Uson, On Human Nature, Harvard University Press,
1978, pp.155-63. But also see the recent conversion of a ‘liberal’

sociologist of race relations to sociobiology, P. van den Berghe, ‘Race
and ethnicity – a sociobiologica1 perspective’, Ethnic and Racial. Studies,
VOl.2, No.4, 1978, pp.40l-11. See also the excellent recent critical
examination of this conversion, Vernon Reyno1ds, ‘Soc:iobiology and the
Idea of Primordial Subordination’, Ethnic and Racial. Studies, Vo1.3, No.3,
July 1980, pp.303-15.

David Hume, op.cit., p.156.

William Trotter, Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War, Fisher Unwin,
1919, pp .43-44.

See Thomas Gossett, Race – the History of an Idea, Southern Methodist
University Press, 1956, p.384ff.

See in addition to the above references David Barash, Sociobiology and
Behaviour, Heinemann, 1978, pp.310-11; and Richard Dawkins The Selfish
Gene, Oxford University Press, 1976, p.108.

See in particular E.O. Wilson, op.cit., pp.156-57.

Works on raci~m that seem to me to be flawed in this way include Thomas
Gossett, op.cit.; .George M. Frederickson, op.cit.; Michae1 Ban ton , The Idea
of Race, Tavistock, 1977; Jacques Barzun, Race – a Study in Superstition,
Harper, 1965; and Allan Chase, The Legacy of Malthus, Alfred Knopf, 1976.

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