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Lycoming College to host Quayshawn Spencer for annual Douthat lectureship

Lycoming College to host Quayshawn Spencer for annual Douthat lectureship

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Lycoming College welcomes Quayshawn Spencer, Ph.D., for the James and Emily Douthat lecture series. Spencer’s presentation, “A Metaphysical Mapping Problem for Race Theorists and Human Population Geneticists,” will take place Thursday, Nov. 3, at 7:30 p.m. in Krapf Gateway Center’s Trogner Presentation Room with a reception to follow. The event is free and open to the public.

During his lecture, Spencer will identify and explain a mapping phenomenon that is almost twenty years old. Many scholars have raised a number of theories to pinpoint the metaphysical relation exemplified by this phenomenon, and after exploring these theories, Spencer will introduce the identity thesis.

“The phenomenon is that the populations at a fivefold subdivision of humans into biological populations–the so-called human continental populations–correspond one-to-one with the five official races of the Office of Management and Budget in the U.S. government,” explained Spencer. “After presenting and defending the identity thesis, I explore interesting implications of the identity thesis for race theorists and NIH-funded medical scientists.”

Spencer is the Robert S. Blank Presidential Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a Hastings Center Fellow for his work in philosophy of race. He specializes in metaphysical issues in general philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, and philosophy of race. He has authored books on how to group objects into classifications that are reliable for scientific induction, whether biological subspecies exist, and on the nature and reality of race in the current United States. His most recent co-authored book, “What is Race? Four Philosophical Views,” was published in 2019 by Oxford University Press. Spencer currently has three other books under contract with the press: “A Pluralist Solution to the Race Problem,” “The Race Debates from Metaphysics to Medicine,” and “Philosophy of Race: A Very Short Introduction.”

The lecture is sponsored by the James and Emily Douthat Distinguished Lectureship Series in the liberal arts and sciences, named for James Douthat, former president of Lycoming College, and his wife Emily, for their years of service to the College. The annual lecture, which is not field-specific, attracts top scholarly guest speakers to the College. Lycoming’s chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, a national honor society for all academic disciplines, organizes the lectureship.

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