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Intentions and Discrimination in Hiring

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Fundamentally, intentions do not matter to the permissibility of actions, according to Thomas Scanlon (among others). Yet, discriminatory intentions seem essential to certain kinds of direct discrimination in hiring and firing, and appear to be something by virtue of which, in part at least, these kinds of discrimination are morally impermissible. Scanlon's account of the wrongness of discrimination attempts to accommodate this appearance through the notion of the expressive meaning of discriminatory acts and a certain view about how permissibility relates to the meaning of actions. This paper explores the scope, strengths and weaknesses of this account. Specifically, it challenges the view that discrimination reflecting hierarchical value judgments necessarily involves a wrong that renders such discrimination more objectionable than other forms.

Affiliations: 1: Institut for Statskundskab, Aarhus University Bartholins Allé 7, bygning 1332, lokale 118, 8000, Aarhus C, Denmark

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