But Some Groups Are More Equal Than Others: A Critical Review of the Group-Criterion in the Concept of Discrimination

Social Theory and Practice 39 (1):120-146 (2013)
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Abstract

In this article I critically examine a standard feature in conceptions of discrimination: the group-criterion, specifically the idea that there is a limited and definablegroup of traits that can form the basis of discrimination. I review two types of argument for the criterion. One focuses on inherently relevant groups and relies ultimately on luck-egalitarian principles; the other focuses on contextually relevant groups and relies ultimately on the badness of outcomes. I conclude that as neither type of argument is convincing, the criterion is morally arbitrary, and as such untenable. Finally, I suggest both some of the conceptual and some of the practical implications of abandoning the criterion.

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Frej Thomsen
Danish National Centre for Ethics

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