The Wrongs of Racist Beliefs

Philosophical Studies:1-19 (forthcoming)
Authors
Rima Basu
Claremont McKenna College
Abstract
We care not only about how people treat us, but also what they believe of us. If I believe that you're a bad tipper given your race, I've wronged you. But, what if you are a bad tipper? It is commonly argued that the way racist beliefs wrong is that the racist believer either misrepresents reality, organizes facts in a misleading way that distorts the truth, or engages in fallacious reasoning. In this paper, I present a case that challenges this orthodoxy: the case of the supposedly rational racist. We live in a world that has been, and continues to be, structured by racist attitudes and institutions. As a result, the evidence might be stacked in favour of racist beliefs. But, if there are racist beliefs that reflect reality and are rationally justified, what could be wrong with them? Moreover, how do I wrong you by believing what I epistemically ought believe given the evidence? To address this challenge, we must seriously consider the thesis that people wrong others in virtue of what they believe about them, and not just in virtue of what they do.
Keywords Racism  Racist Beliefs  Ethics of Belief  Doxastic Voluntarism
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-018-1137-0
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