General Question

YARNLADY's avatar

What is the correct useage of "race" and "species"?

Asked by YARNLADY (42314points) July 7th, 2010

This question came up as the result of other questions and answers that apparently use the words incorrectly.

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36 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

There is no such thing as a “Race”, and a species is a group of similar creatures who are unable to interbreed with another species and bear fertile offspring. It’s slightly loose taxonomy, but that’s the basic definition. Race is a mere misunderstanding based on very superficial features that have no real importance in the genome.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

These definitions will ebb and flow depending on who you ask. If you ask me, I say race is a social construct and species is a construct created to categorize in a less offensive manner than race and what @dpworkin said.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@dpworkin

Good answer, and 100% correct. : )

lillycoyote's avatar

“Race” biologically, anthropologically and “scientifically” doesn’t exist. There really is no such thing.

Maximillian's avatar

On a more lax scale I suppose race is a way society has created to differentiate itself, on other words just ourselves. And we all know what species is. Just look at the first post.

Nullo's avatar

“Race” is derived from a Norman term used in horse breeding. Since people are not horses, I refrain from using it altogether. :D

But if we were to apply it to the human condition, “race” is a further (and unofficial, I might add) subdivision of “species,” as it categorizes phenotypical variations within the taxonomic rank sapiens.
There are dozens of breeds of horse, yet they are all Equus ferus caballus. Similarly, there are a number of human populations which look more like themselves than they do other populations, yet humans are all Homo sapiens sapiens

YARNLADY's avatar

@Nullo So would it be more accurate to say race equals breed?

Nullo's avatar

@YARNLADY It would certainly seem so.

superniloc's avatar

kingdom , philum , order ,class , genus , species , race,

mattbrowne's avatar

I think the usage of the term race will slowly disappear when we talk about human beings and remain in use for species such as horses, dogs and cats.

The organization of living things includes the following taxons: Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species and sometimes Sub-Species. It does not include race. And race is not the same as sub-species. See

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxon

superniloc's avatar

@mattbrowne Ooops… I got the order wrong…. well its been 15 years since high-school biology…I always though it was KPOCGS

dpworkin's avatar

@Nullo That is sheer nonsense. There is more genetic diversity among a group of Black people then there is between a group of Blacks and a group of Whites. “Race” has nothing at all to do with breeding, and everything to do with clinal location. It is only a social construct.

Nullo's avatar

@dpworkin Get ye to my post and read it. I said phenotypical variation, not genetic diversity. The phenotype is the expression of the genotype. If there were a flies-off-the-handle gene, you would have it and it would be expressed in your belligerent nature.

I give you the etymology of race.

dpworkin's avatar

What has the phenotype to do with race? Are men with male pattern baldness part of a race?

And why must you descend to the ad hominem? Weakness? Cowardliness? Ignorance?

Nullo's avatar

@dpworkin So-called racial traits are all visible. That means that they’re all phenotypical expressions of genes.
I didn’t ad-hominem as much as I vented. You can be so frustrating sometimes.

dpworkin's avatar

So men with male-pattern baldness do constitute a race. What shall we call them?

Nullo's avatar

@dpworkin Caucasians? :D

Really, though, ‘race’ has historically been applied to collections of traits characteristic of that population, not individual traits. Male-pattern baldness alone wouldn’t be enough.

dpworkin's avatar

What if they had blue eyes? How many distinct traits constitute a race? I am just trying to point out that the term is so fluid as to be practically meaningless, except to make invidious comparisons to the harm of certain members of society. It’s time we got away from the idea.

Nullo's avatar

@dpworkin Somehow I’m getting the feeling that you never did read my first post all the way through.

dpworkin's avatar

I did read your post thoroughly, and I find nothing objectionable in it. Now I am asking some general questions about the cultural concept of Race, to see if people agree that we no longer need it.

mattbrowne's avatar

It might be interesting to know that the word ‘race’ in the context of human beings has almost completely disappeared from the German language. ‘Rasse’ today means breed, and it is used when we talk about horses, dogs and cats, like German shepherd for example. When we talk about people and it’s not about nationality the term

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_origin

is preferred. Unfortunately, some neo-Nazis today, still use the term race as it was used in the Third Reich.

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mattbrowne's avatar

I don’t get your point. I was explaining what happened to the word ‘race’ after 1945.

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augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Let’s get back to the topic at hand, please. Please do so without making it personal, too.

Nullo's avatar

Dangit, @augustlan, I liked that post! I was gonna frame it!
@dpworkin It’s important to keep in mind that culture is always built on the environment.

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