In a long and wonky post on genetics and race, Razib Khan defends a biological understanding of “race”:
The history of a population affects [its] genome, and its genome affects the nature of its traits and diseases. Because of differences across populations statistical geneticists with medical aims routinely restrict their data set to individuals of one population. And, within groups like African Americans which are admixed there is variation in disease risk by genomic fraction. Though an individual with 60 percent African ancestry may feel and say they are no more or no less African American than someone who is 80 percent African in ancestry, there are differences in disease susceptibilities.
There is no Platonic sense where there are perfect categories with ideal uses. Rather, we muddle on, making usage of heuristics and frameworks which are serviceable for the moment. We lose our way when we ignore the multi-textured nature of the issues.
The classical definition and conception of the word ‘race’ is too entrenched and changing it hardly seems a battle worth fighting (and likely futile anyway). Best to adopt a different term entirely.