Treating People as Individuals
Forthcoming in Philosophical Foundations of Discrimination Law (Deborah Hellman & Sophia Moreau, eds., Oxford University Press)
30 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2013 Last revised: 27 Jul 2013
Date Written: July 25, 2013
Acts of discrimination are often criticized on the ground that they fail to "treat people as individuals." This paper develops an account of that moral requirement rooted in the philosophical literature on autonomy. To treat people as individuals, it argues, is not to eschew inductive generalization but rather to exhibit recognition respect for a particular morally salient property that persons possess. The paper explores just what that property of being "an individual" amounts to, and just how certain forms of discriminatory conduct may fail to respect it. The paper thus aims both to clarify an important strand in the moral case against certain forms of discrimination and, in so doing, to surface some neglected dimensions of what it means to respect the autonomy of others.
This paper will be published as a chapter in Philosophical Foundations of Discrimination Law, Oxford University Press.
Keywords: discrimination, autonomy, treating people as individuals
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