Implicit Bias

In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), Ethics in Practice: An Anthology (5th Edition). Wiley-Blackwell (2020)
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(This contribution is primarily based on "Implicit Bias, Moods, and Moral Responsibility," (2018) Pacific Philosophical Quarterly. This version has been shortened and significantly revised to be more accessible and student-oriented.) Are individuals morally responsible for their implicit biases? One reason to think not is that implicit biases are often advertised as unconscious. However, recent empirical evidence consistently suggests that individuals are aware of their implicit biases, although often in partial and inarticulate ways. Here I explore the implications of this evidence of partial awareness for individuals’ moral responsibility. First, I argue that responsibility comes in degrees. Second, I argue that individuals’ partial awareness of their implicit biases makes them (partially) morally responsible for them. I argue by analogy to a close relative of implicit bias: moods.

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Alex Madva
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona


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