A Case Study
A Case Study
The disrespect-based theory developed earlier in the book aspires to explain what is characteristically and intrinsically wrong about core cases of wrongful discrimination. This chapter considers at length one example of the kind of discrimination that is not necessarily ruled out by the moral demands of respect for persons: racial profiling in law enforcement. The chapter argues that this practice, and others like it, may be troubling on grounds that are fundamentally contingent and hence very different in character. What makes racial profiling morally wrong may not be that it is distinctly unfair, or that it is necessarily racist, but rather that it contributes to a set of conventional social understandings that do unjustified harm. The chapter develops this argument by clarifying the general conceptual distinction between “profiling” and the use of “suspect descriptions,” and proceeds to consider the merits of several different arguments often advanced against profiling.
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