Intentional and Unintentional Discrimination: What Are They and What Makes Them Morally Different

In: Journal of Moral Philosophy
Rona DinurMax Weber Programme, European University Institute, San Domenico di Fiesole, Italy,

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The distinction between intentional and unintentional discrimination is a prominent one in the literature and public discourse; intentional discriminatory actions are commonly considered particularly morally objectionable relative to unintentional discriminatory actions. Nevertheless, it remains unclear what the two types amount to, and what generates the moral difference between them. The paper develops philosophically-informed conceptualizations of the two types based on which the moral difference between them may be accounted for. On the suggested account, intentional discrimination is characterized by the agent viewing the content of an underlying discriminatory belief as a consideration that counts in favor of her action. This, it is argued, amounts to endorsing the discriminatory belief, which generates the particular moral severity of intentional discrimination.

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