Should Race Matter?

Unusual Answers to the Usual Questions

Should Race Matter?
  • By David Boonin

  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press

    Online Publication Date:June 2012

    Online ISBN:9781139003650

    Hardback ISBN:9780521760867

    Paperback ISBN:9780521149808

  • Book DOI:

    Subjects: Ethics

In this book, philosopher David Boonin attempts to answer the moral questions raised by five important and widely contested racial practices: slave reparations, affirmative action, hate speech restrictions, hate crime laws, and racial profiling. Arguing from premises that virtually everyone on both sides of the debates over these issues already accepts, Boonin arrives at an unusual and unorthodox set of conclusions, one that is neither liberal nor conservative, color conscious nor color blind. Defended with the rigor that has characterized his previous work but written in a more widely accessible style, this provocative and important new book is sure to spark controversy and should be of interest to philosophers, legal theorists, and anyone interested in trying to resolve the debate over these important and divisive issues.


"David Boonin’s Should Race Matter? is the finest book written on the topic and should be required reading for anyone doing serious research in the field. The book contains new and powerful arguments, a comprehensive discussion of the literature, and is written in an organized and highly readable manner. It is superb. Boonin’s analyses of key issues in racial ethics are consistent, compelling, and surprising. For example, his discussion of affirmative action is a unique contribution to the literature and provides an insightful and wide-ranging discussion of the rights- and policy-based arguments both for and against this controversial program. This book, along with his previous books on abortion (A Defense of Abortion) and punishment (The Problem of Punishment), establishes Boonin as one of the most important philosophers in the world today."
Stephen Kershnar, State University of New York at Fredonia

"Boonin's treatment of this jaggedly emotional issue is meticulous, sober, and ultimately nonpartisan. There is no posturing, no demonizing - only a profoundly honest logic seldom brought to this topic, or any other."
David Schmidtz, University of Arizona

"… This is an important book that will be useful in potentially heated classroom discussions on race and public policy … Highly recommended …"
T. L. Lott, San Jose State University, Choice

"Boonin’s book is outstanding. It will reshape the discussion of these issues and is required reading for people doing research on race-policies … Like his earlier work on punishment and abortion, Boonin’s analyses are razor sharp, accessible, and interesting."
Law and Philosophy