The Practical, the Political and the Ethical seminar series

The Practical, the Political and the Ethical seminar series
29 January 2021, 4.00pm - 6.00pm
Online seminar.

The Prospects for a Pluralist Theory of Wrongful Discrimination

Sophia Moreau (University of Toronto)

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to increased public awareness of the morally problematic forms of discrimination regularly experienced by racial minorities, women, and people with disabilities.  But discrimination is quite difficult to theorize about, in a way that is both unifying and illuminating.  The particular grounds of discrimination that we normally take to indicate at least a prima facie moral problem are quite different, ranging from traits as universal and as changeable as age to traits as particular and as unchangeable as racial background.  Can there really be a theory of discrimination that makes sense of wrongful age discrimination and wrongful racial discrimination as two versions of the same thing?  Moreover, “discrimination” encompasses both direct and indirect discrimination —that is, both the explicit exclusion of certain people based on a certain trait, and the indirect disadvantaging of such groups in ways that are not intended or even always foreseeable.  How could these both be wrong for the same reasons? Such considerations may push us towards a pluralist theory of wrongful discrimination, one that holds that discrimination is wrong for different reasons in different cases.  But such theories risk being mere lists of wrongs, rather than theories with explanatory power.  In this lecture, I shall discuss some of the difficulties that pluralist theories encounter, while arguing that the pluralist theory I have defended in my recent book, Faces of Inequality, does not fall prey to these difficulties and in fact has a number of advantage over non-pluralist theories.

View the recording of this seminar here.

The Institute of Philosophy hosts a regular workshop series entitled ‘The Practical, the Political, and the Ethical’. The series was created in 2015 by Véronique Munoz-Dardé (UCL) and Hallvard Lillehammer (Birkbeck) in order to discuss work in progress from visiting speakers. This year the series is convened by Kate Vredenburgh (LSE) and Jonathan Gingerich (KCL).  Talks are normally 50 minutes (no pre-circulation of the paper), followed by discussion. All are welcome. 


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