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3/28/2017 8:19 pm  #11


Re: What is racism and what makes it wrong?

AKG wrote:

In fact correct me if I'm wrong but I haven't heard of any positive benefits due to profiling.

The fact we are judging it on its outcomes i.e. consequences sort of shows that we have admitted its a prudential matter though. I am not saying that the benefits of racial profiling outweigh the negatives (in the case of the U.S. travel ban I suspect they don't) only that they are not irrational/immoral in the same way that assigning somebody a different moral value based on their race would be.

 

3/28/2017 9:44 pm  #12


Re: What is racism and what makes it wrong?

But isn't racial profiling itself largely based on the notion of racism which itself does assign different moral values based on race? 

 

3/29/2017 3:48 am  #13


Re: What is racism and what makes it wrong?

AKG wrote:

But isn't racial profiling itself largely based on the notion of racism which itself does assign different moral values based on race? 

Profiling works on the premise that certain values are more prevalent in a certain community e.g. ethnic, national et cetera et cetera. For it to actuelly qualify as racism in the sense I outlined the profilers would have to claim that the link between those values and that community were necessary as opposed to accidental e.g. that Italians have an inherent disposition towards organized crime or the Irish towards terrorism. Practically profiling on the former ground often has the unfortunate effect that racists will appeal to this contingent association in an attempt to justify their valuation of race.

Last edited by DanielCC (3/29/2017 4:14 am)

 

3/30/2017 1:49 am  #14


Re: What is racism and what makes it wrong?

Profiling to me seems to inherently assume that these connections are necessary as it paint a target on those who don't even hold these values just for even looking like the suspected.. Even if it doesn't like you said it easily gives way/collapses into to this assumption as President Evil Von Idiot's travel ban shows.

 

4/02/2017 4:15 pm  #15


Re: What is racism and what makes it wrong?

AKG wrote:

Well racism in itself is inherently wrong so I would say type-5 actions being racist, and wrong would make prejudice inherently wrong and always wrong as well. Also I think all actions done in the name of racism are wrong given that racism is itself inherently wrong. That includes racial profiling.

What I'm looking for, though, is some argument which concludes that "racism in itself is inherently wrong." Such an argument is going to have to define racism and then show why any action (or, I suppose, feeling) meeting that definition is eo ipso wrong.

That isn't a trivial matter. The focal cases of racism are clearly those identified by my sufficient conditions (1) and (2). And one could certainly imagine arguments that actions racist on account of satisfying the conditions of (1) and (2) are always wrong, by virtue of satisfying those conditions. For instance, if one thinks that all hateful acts are wrong, then it is easy to see why an action racist in the sense of (1) is wrong by virtue of being racist.

That's all well and good. But the same argument would not show that an action racist on account of satisfying the condition of (5) is immoral, for such an action need not (it seems) express hatred. That is not to say that it is not intrinsically immoral. Perhaps it is. But the same argument would not show it.

Say that we did not think any such argument existed. Then perhaps we would want to reject sufficient condition (5), because we want to preserve the thought that racism is always wrong. That would be a reasonable decision to make, but it's a decision. The term 'racism' has a somewhat ambiguous scope. It isn't obvious to me that there is a single argument that shows racism of both types (1) and (5) to be immoral by virtue of satisfying those descriptions (which is what it would take for racism, taken broadly, to be intrinsically immoral); there may be, but I should like to see it.

So, for instance, here, you give reasons why profiling is wrong that are extrinsic to the act itself:

AKG wrote:

The thing with profiling is that it can easily be abused, and creates a stigma associated with a certain group, which NEVER ends well. As an African-American Muslim I know people such as my dad who have faced unfair situations due to profiling. Also profiling has the potential to be very biased/abused by those unworthy of power, and cause other actions to be overlooked. ... In fact correct me if I'm wrong but I haven't heard of any positive benefits due to profiling.

This is to say that profiling tends to lead to bad outcomes. That is an empirical question, and the evidence very well might suffice to show that a particular society should restrict profiling of various kinds, for instance of the racial variety. But that is not an argument that profiling is intrinsically immoral.

But I think we also should not be seduced by words like 'profiling' and 'discrimination'. Owing to regimes of oppression that have existed especially in the United States, these are bad words, and we have laws that prohibit profiling on the basis of certain characteristics. But to discriminate on the basis of a characteristic is merely to choose on the basis of a characteristic. Someone who needs a black actor is, by choosing one, engaging in racial discrimination. Parents who choose a teenage girl rather than a teenage boy to babysit their infant, as most parents seeking babysitters do (I believe regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum), are engaging in discrimination on the basis of sex. I don't think such people are doing anything intrinsically immoral. So we shouldn't be wowed by words like 'discrimination' that remind us of cases where discriminatory action has been part of a larger scheme that grossly oppressed certain groups.

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4/02/2017 4:37 pm  #16


Re: What is racism and what makes it wrong?

AKG wrote:

Profiling to me seems to inherently assume that these connections are necessary as it paint a target on those who don't even hold these values just for even looking like the suspected.

Some argument of this form is, I think, what one would have to develop if one wanted to argue that profiling, even when it makes use only of epistemically warranted statistical generalizations, is always because intrinsically wrong. The idea would have to be that part of what is constitutive of choosing someone on the basis of a characteristic A because that characteristic is statistically correlated with another characteristic B is the assumption that people who are A are necessarily, or inherently, or as such, B. Call this principle (*)

But principle (*) is much too strong and not very plausible. As I've pointed out, one can easily use a statistical generalization to profile even when one positively disbelieves that the corresponding necessary connection obtains.

Suppose, for instance, that someone is charged with reviewing police case files to look for cases of abuse. Say he has read a study, which he thinks is well-corroborated, that white policemen more frequently are guilty of the sorts of abuse he is looking to prosecute. He is in a rush, so he decides to read the files of white policemen more closely than those of others. Even the rate of abuse among white policemen, though, is low, and he knows this: thus, he also forms the belief on the basis of the literature that being a white policeman is not inherently or necessarily linked to cases of abuse; there are some, indeed many, good white policemen out there, he thinks.

Principle (*) says this person is contradicting himself. If principle (*) is true, then no one can consistently believe both (a) that some extrinsic characteristic is positively correlated with some negative characteristic and (b) that those characteristics are not necessarily correlated. But that cannot be right.

In general, it seems to me that any principle that attempts to show that use of an epistemically warranted statistical generalization tacitly presupposes acceptance of a much stronger essentialist claim, will not be plausible. So I don't really see how the argument that profiling is intrinsically immoral can be made out.

It may still be unwise, because it tends to lead to bad outcomes or can be abused. But if I am right, then it obscures things to try to find a way to argue that it is intrinsically immoral.

If racial profiling is not intrinsically immoral, then perhaps we want to avoid applying the term 'racism' to it. We can, of course, decide to use that term to refer to a collection of actions we think are wrong for some reason having to do with race. But it obscures the matter inasmuch as the usage seems to suggest that the racial profiler is guilty of the same sort of sin, "racism," as a person who would, say, spit on a black person, if he could get away with it. Regardless of whether on thinks racial profiling is permissible, that seems quite incorrect.

Last edited by Greg (4/02/2017 4:40 pm)

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4/05/2017 1:27 pm  #17


Re: What is racism and what makes it wrong?

DanielCC wrote:

A simple remark on Racism: it's a category mistake to assume genetics or racial heritage, neither of which are free actions, are of moral import.

Honor thy father and thy mother.


"The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State."
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16 (3).

Defend your Family. Join the U.N. Family Rights Caucus.
 

4/07/2017 8:43 am  #18


Re: What is racism and what makes it wrong?

Timocrates wrote:

DanielCC wrote:

A simple remark on Racism: it's a category mistake to assume genetics or racial heritage, neither of which are free actions, are of moral import.

Honor thy father and thy mother.

Aren't you missing Daniel's point? He isn't saying that things other than free actions (such as one's heritage) can't impact moral decisions, he's saying that a moral judgement about a person cannot be based on something over which they have no control.

 

4/07/2017 6:12 pm  #19


Re: What is racism and what makes it wrong?

Timocrates wrote:

DanielCC wrote:

A simple remark on Racism: it's a category mistake to assume genetics or racial heritage, neither of which are free actions, are of moral import.

Honor thy father and thy mother.

So much the worst for the Abrahamic Religions then? The reason though one is (normally) expected to owe greater deference is because (normally) those parties are responsible for one's welfare and development, and thus are due gratitude. If one's biological father does nothing for one and an adopted father provides everything it is to that latter all filial reverence is due. If a parent encourages or asks an immoral action from their off-spring they are owed no more obedience than a stranger however.

Last edited by DanielCC (4/07/2017 6:18 pm)

 

4/08/2017 10:15 am  #20


Re: What is racism and what makes it wrong?

Alexander wrote:

Timocrates wrote:

DanielCC wrote:

A simple remark on Racism: it's a category mistake to assume genetics or racial heritage, neither of which are free actions, are of moral import.

Honor thy father and thy mother.

Aren't you missing Daniel's point? He isn't saying that things other than free actions (such as one's heritage) can't impact moral decisions, he's saying that a moral judgement about a person cannot be based on something over which they have no control.

Well, "moral import" is ambiguous between these two senses. I'd typically read "X is not of moral import" as "X cannot be regarded as morally relevant"--but that isn't a plausible claim about genetics or racial heritage. (If it were true, moreover, it would also mean that race could not be used as a criterion for, say, affirmative action, or reparations.)

But right: in this context it would seem appropriate to take "race is not of moral import" as meaning that it isn't the subject of direct evaluation. That's fine, and I assume everyone here agrees with it; it shows irrationality to judge someone morally on the basis of what is outside of his control. But my sense is that there are cases of racism which do not involve judging people of any race to be morally inferior by virtue of being of that race. Someone who doesn't like people of a particular race and therefore throws all of their applications out without considering them, irrespective of their qualifications, is being racist, but need not, I think, be judging them to be morally inferior by virtue of being that race. (Indeed, I don't think his error is an intellectual mistake.)

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