There are observable differences in such things as skin color and hair texture, as well as some patterns in predisposition to disease based on ancestors’ geographic origins, but the idea of separate races was created by humans and is not found in nature.
There are no known biologically based differences in intellectual, psychological, or moral attributes between human populations from different regions of the world. There is individual variation within any human population in a particular place (obviously, individuals in any society differ in a variety of traits). But there are no meaningful biologically based differences between populations in the way people are capable of thinking, feeling, or making decisions. We are one species. We are all basically the same animal.
Although we are one species, there are obvious cultural differences among human populations around the world. Those cultural differences aren’t a product of human biology; that is, they aren’t the product of any one group being significantly different genetically from another, especially in ways that could be labeled cognitively superior or inferior. So why have different cultures developed in different places? The most obvious answer is that it is the result of humans living under different material conditions.
We conclude that the type of living arrangements that groups of humans develop arise from the differences in geography, climate, and environmental conditions. Absent any other credible explanation, we assume that the different material realities under which humans have lived have shaped the variations in human culture. People make choices to build cultures in specific ways, but if all people are basically the same animal, then the differences in those choices around the world are most likely the product of those different conditions.
We are not suggesting that we have no control over our lives but simply that we likely don’t have as much control as many people would like to believe. This is true of us individually and collectively. The conditions under which a culture emerged may have led to ecologically sustainable living arrangements, but those living arrangements would have been different if initial conditions had been different. If Culture A created an ecologically sustainable way to live and Culture B created an unsustainable system, it is important to highlight the differences, endorse Culture A, and try to change Culture B. Geography shapes people, and people act to shape the meaning of geography, making choices along the way. But not all people throughout history and around the world have been presented with the same choices by the landscapes on which they have lived.
We want to be clear about how we understand racial and ethnic differences in the context of political and economic history. Europe is not rich because Europeans are racially superior. Europe is rich because it developed on a different trajectory from that of the Americas, Africa, and Asia as a result of geographic and environmental differences. That trajectory made it possible for Europeans to conquer and exploit the people and resources of those other continents. At one point, Europeans believed themselves intellectually and morally superior because of racial differences that were assumed to be immutable. We know that to be false. But if that’s false, then so is any other claim by any other group to be intellectually or morally superior on any criteria by virtue of a racial or ethnic identity.
If history was not shaped by the minor genetic differences that are associated with our ancestors’ region of the world, that leaves us with geography, climate, and environmental conditions, unless we want to argue that history is directed by gods. Geography shapes people, and people act to shape the meaning of geography, making choices along the way. But not all people throughout history and around the world have been presented with the same choices by the landscapes on which they have lived. All organisms adapt to, and are shaped by, their places. There is no reason that humans should be exempt from that observation. While it’s true that humans’ physiology and cognitive capacity allow us to live almost anywhere on land on Earth, that doesn’t mean that geography has no relevance in how we have organized societies and developed new technologies.
Taken from here
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