STEREOTYPING

It’s a matter of straightforward induction that Great Danes are typically taller than Chihuahuas. So why would it be odd to say that they’re stereotypically taller? Because in normal parlance a stereotype only applies to people. Then why would it be odd to say that the Masai are stereotypically taller than the Hutu? Because by a stereotype we mean a wrongful induction. Wrongful in the sense of inaccurate? No, the average indigenous Canadian does have less formal education than the average white or East Asian or South Asian, but apparently it’s inappropriate to say so. It wouldn’t be inappropriate for the purposes of educational policy. In fact for those kinds of purposes it would be indispensable. But for what purposes would it be inappropriate?

I’m hiring a thousand telephone solicitors for a mass marketing campaign, and all I have time to know about any given applicant is her accent. It’s a matter of straightforward induction that accent is a tell for race. If I don’t hire the applicant with an indigenous accent I’m guilty of stereotyping and I’ve harmed her. And many polities have decided that if I’ve harmed her I’ve wronged her, and that such wrongs are actionable.

So, it would seem, we’ve decided that straightforward induction, though the sine qua non of rational thought, can sometimes be actionable in law. Some people find this outrageous. Others that it’s just odd. And still others that, well duh. But I think all three would have to concede that sometimes efficiency and social justice conflict. Some people find this outrageous. Others that it’s just odd. And still others that, well duh.  



Categories: Critical Thinking, Everything You Wanted to Know About What's Going On in the World But Were Afraid to Ask, Social and Political Philosophy, Why My Colleagues Are Idiots

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