Race, Kinds and Ontological Commitments: Issues for Social Policy Clarification


Steven I. Miller, School of Education/Department of Philosophy, Loyola University, 820 North Michigan Avenue, Lewis Tower 11th Floor, Chicago, IL 60611, USA. smille@luc.edu

Frank Perino, College of Education, Northeastern Illinois University, 550 North St, Louis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625, USA. F-Perino@neiu-edu


abstract This article attempts to illustrate the continuing need to pay attention to ontological issues connected with the conduct of empirical research and subsequent policy making. Failure to do so leads to the conflation of social constructions with ideas about the thesis of an independent reality. Such category mistakes often lead to dilemmas in which culturally sensitive constructs may, on the one hand, be worthy of study because they do tell us how socially constructed categories do predict social phenomena; but, on the other hand, such constructs may illustrate an unwillingness on the part of the research community to recognize the objective nature of such constructs. Some recommendations are suggested for addressing the social policy consequences of these dilemmas.