Biased against Debiasing: On the Role of (Institutionally Sponsored) Self-Transformation in the Struggle against Prejudice

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 4:145-179 (2017)
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Abstract

Research suggests that interventions involving extensive training or counterconditioning can reduce implicit prejudice and stereotyping, and even susceptibility to stereotype threat. This research is widely cited as providing an “existence proof” that certain entrenched social attitudes are capable of change, but is summarily dismissed—by philosophers, psychologists, and activists alike—as lacking direct, practical import for the broader struggle against prejudice, discrimination, and inequality. Criticisms of these “debiasing” procedures fall into three categories: concerns about empirical efficacy, about practical feasibility, and about the failure to appreciate the underlying structural-institutional nature of discrimination. I reply to these criticisms of debiasing, and argue that a comprehensive strategy for combating prejudice and discrimination should include a central role for training our biases away

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Alex Madva
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

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