The rational impermissibility of accepting (some) racial generalizations

Journal article

Bolinger, Renee. (2020) The rational impermissibility of accepting (some) racial generalizations. Synthese. 197(6), pp. 2415-2431.
AuthorsBolinger, Renee

I argue that inferences from highly probabilifying racial generalizations (e.g. believing that Jones is a janitor, on the grounds that most Salvadoreans at the school are janitors) are not solely objectionable because acting on such inferences would be problematic, or they violate a moral norm, but because they violate a distinctively epistemic norm. They involve accepting a proposition when, given the costs of a mistake, one is not adequately justified in doing so. First I sketch an account of the nature of adequate justification—practical adequacy with respect to eliminating the ¬p possibilities from one’s epistemic statespace. Second, I argue that inferences based on demographic generalizations tend to disproportionately expose group members to the risks associated with mistakenly assuming stereotypical propositions, and so magnify the wrong involved in relying on such inferences without adequate justification.

Keywordsepistemology; acceptance; generalizations; statistical evidence; moral encroachment; epistemic risk
Journal citation197 (6), pp. 2415-2431
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85047243114
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range2415-2431
Publisher's version
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online23 May 2018
Publication process dates
Accepted08 May 2018
Deposited15 Jul 2021
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