Ambivalent Stereotypes

Res Publica:1-18 (forthcoming)
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People often discriminate based on negative or positive stereotypes about others. Important examples of this are highlighted by the theory of ambivalent sexism. This theory distinguishes sexist stereotypes that are negative (hostile sexism) from those that are positive (benevolent sexism). While both forms of sexism are considered wrong towards women, hostile sexism seems intuitively worse than benevolent sexism. In this article, we ask whether the difference between discriminating based on positive vs. negative stereotypes in itself makes a morally relevant difference. We suggest that it does not. By examining a number of prominent accounts of what makes discrimination wrong, we defend the Moral Irrelevance View according to which stereotype valence is irrelevant to the moral evaluation of discrimination, all else equal.

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