Sex Discrimination: Mistaking the Relevance of Gender

  • Tom Campbell


In the parlance of modern political discourse, to discriminate is to disfavour a person or group on grounds which are irrelevant to the matter in hand in a way which manifests an unreasonable disvaluation of the type of person involved. To count as discrimination, the disfavour — that is, the benefit lost or the burden acquired — need not be deliberately imposed, but it must be the consequence of humanly contrived practices or decisions related to the disvaluing in question. To be born a dwarf is not to be discriminated against, but to be disqualified from voting on the grounds of size, or to be allowed to vote only where the ballot boxes are five feet above the ground, may be. However, there is an added requirement for the disfavour to count as discrimination, namely that the decisions, arrangements or practices involved in the process exhibit or result from prejudice, that is the unreasonable disvaluing or denigration of certain types of person. Discrimination is the perpetration of unjustifiable inequality in consequence of bigotry.


Affirmative Action Gender Discrimination Reverse Discrimination Direct Discrimination Affirmative Action Programme 
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  1. 1.
    This confusion is to some extent unravelled in Jeremy Waldron, ‘Indirect Discrimination’, in S. Guest and A. J. Milne (eds) Equality & Discrimination: Essays in Freedom and Justice ( Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1985 ), pp. 93–100.Google Scholar
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© Sheila McLean and Noreen Burrows 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tom Campbell

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