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Sex Discrimination: Mistaking the Relevance of Gender

  • Tom Campbell

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Affirmative Action Gender Discrimination Reverse Discrimination Direct Discrimination Affirmative Action Programme 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  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
  2. 5.
    See D. D. Raphael, Problems of Political Philosophy ( London: Pall Mall, 1970 ), pp. 178f.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    On the nature of groups and their relevance to discrimination, see O. M. Fiss, ‘Groups and the Equal Protection Clause’. Philosophy and Public Affairs 5.2 (1971), pp. 107–77, especially pp. 147–56.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    See J. W. Nickel, ‘Discrimination and Morally Relevant Characteristics’, Analysis, 32. 4 (1972), pp. 113–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 9.
    However, see R. Dworkin, Taking Rights Seriously (London: Duckworth, 1977), pp. 301, 318 and 330.Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    See Equal Opportunities Commission, Women and Men in Britain: A Statistical Profile ( Manchester: Equal Opportunities Commission, 1985 ).Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    See T. D. Campbell, ‘Discretionary Rights’ in N. Timms and D. Watson (eds), Philosophy and Social Work ( London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978 ), pp. 50–77.Google Scholar
  8. 14.
    W. B. Lockhart, Y. Kamiser and J. H. Choper, Constitutional Law, 5th edn ( Minnesota: West Publishing Company, 1980 ) p. 1413.Google Scholar
  9. 16.
    See E. Cary and K. W. Peratis, Women and the Law ( Illinois: National Textbook Company, 1979 ), p. 22.Google Scholar
  10. 17.
    See M. Mead, Male and Female ( Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1962 )Google Scholar
  11. and J. J. Thomson, ‘Preferential Hiring’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 2. 4 (1973), pp. 364–84.Google Scholar
  12. 20.
    See B. A. Babcock, A. E. Freedman, E. A. Norton and S. C. Ross, Sex Discrimination and the Law (Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1975), pp. 179ff.Google Scholar
  13. 21.
    See M. Cohen, T. Nagel and T. Scanlon, Equality and Preferential Treatment (Princeton University Press, 1977 ).Google Scholar
  14. 22.
    This point is made in W. Sadurski, ‘The Morality of Preferential Treatment’, Melbourne University Law Review, 14 (1984), pp. 572–600.Google Scholar
  15. 23.
    See J. W. Nickel, ‘Discrimination and Morally Relevant Characteristics’, Analysis 32.4 (1972), pp. 113–14,CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. W. Nickel, Paul W. Taylor, ‘Reverse Discrimination and Compensatory Justice’ Analysis, 33. 6 (1973), pp. 177–82.Google Scholar
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    See Alan H. Goldman, Justice and Reverse Discrimination, Princeton University Press, 1979 ), p. 143.Google Scholar
  18. 27.
    See T. Nagel, ‘Equal Treatment and Compensatory Discrimination’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 2. 4 (1973), pp. 348–63.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Sheila McLean and Noreen Burrows 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tom Campbell

There are no affiliations available

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