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Philosophical Foundations of Constitutional Law$
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David Dyzenhaus and Malcolm Thorburn

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198754527

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198754527.001.0001

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Equality Rights and Stereotypes

Equality Rights and Stereotypes

(p.283) 14 Equality Rights and Stereotypes
Philosophical Foundations of Constitutional Law

Sophia Moreau

Oxford University Press

This chapter critically assesses the idea that what makes discrimination wrong or unfair is the presence of tacit stereotypes or generalizations about the traits that members of a certain group are alleged to have by virtue of their membership in that group. This conception of discrimination as a form of stereotyping may seem to explain why we need to give special constitutional protection to equality rights. The author argues, however, that it is the harmful effects that particular stereotypes (involving traits such as race, sex, and religion) have on members of these groups that are central to whether a law is unfairly discriminatory. She suggests that we need to think further about whether equality rights are best understood as protecting us against just one of these effects, or a combination of them.

Keywords:   equality rights, discrimination, stereotypes, harmful effects, autonomy

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