Stealing Bread and Sleeping Beneath Bridges - Indirect Discrimination as Disadvantageous Equal Treatment

Moral Philosophy and Politics 2 (2):299-327 (2015)
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The article analyses the concept of indirect discrimination, arguing first that existing conceptualisations are unsatisfactory and second that it is best understood as equal treatment that is disadvantageous to the discriminatees because of their group-membership. I explore four ways of further refining the definition, arguing that only an added condition of moral wrongness is at once plausible and helpful, but that it entails a number of new problems that may outweigh its benefits. Finally, I suggest that the moral wrongness of indirect discrimination is best accounted for in terms of the harm it does to discriminatees, and sketch three ways in which it may do so. I conclude that the analysis provides both a clearer understanding of the concept of indirect discrimination as well as indirect support for a harm-based account of the wrongness of discrimination, while suggesting that our moral obligations qua non-discrimination may be more extensive than is frequently assumed.

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Frej Thomsen
Danish National Centre for Ethics


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