Failing to Treat Persons as Individuals

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If someone says, “You’ve stereotyped me,” we hear the statement as an accusation. One way to interpret the accusation is as follows: you haven’t seen or treated me as an individual. In this essay, I interpret and evaluate a theory of wrongful stereotyping inspired by this thought, which I call the failure-to-individualize theory of wrongful stereotyping. According to this theory, stereotyping is wrong if and only if it involves failing to treat persons as individuals. I argue that the theory—however one interprets it—is inadequate. Either the theory will not reliably identify all cases of wrongful stereotyping or it will fail to adequately explain why they are wrong. I conclude that it does not follow that we must entirely jettison the objection that stereotyping fails to treat persons as individuals. What follows is only that the objection must play a more circumscribed role in a theory of when and why stereotyping is wrong.
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Archival date: 2018-09-14
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