A modal theory of discrimination

Synthese 198 (11):10661-10684 (2021)
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Discrimination is a central epistemic capacity but typically, theories of discrimination only use discrimination as a vehicle for analyzing knowledge. This paper aims at developing a self-contained theory of discrimination. Internalist theories of discrimination fail since there is no compelling correlation between discriminatory capacities and experiences. Moreover, statistical reliabilist theories are also flawed. Only a modal theory of discrimination is promising. Versions of sensitivity and adherence that take particular alternatives into account provide necessary and sufficient conditions on discrimination. Safety in contrast is not sufficient for discrimination as there are cases of safety that are clearly instances of discrimination failure. The developed account of discrimination between objects will be extended to discrimination between kinds and between types.

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Guido Melchior
University of Graz


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