Law and economics, Philosophy, Political science, Public policy

Course date

1 July - 5 July, 2019
Application Deadline
14 February, 2019
Course Director(s): 

Andres Moles

Department of Political Science/Department of Philosophy, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Tom Parr

Department of Government, University of Essex, UK
Course Faculty: 

Désirée Lim

Department of Philosophy, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, US

Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen

Institut for Statskundskab, Aarhus Universitat, Denmark

Andrew Mason

Department of Politics and International Studies, The University of Warwick, Coventry, UK

Gina Schouten

Department of Philosophy, Harvard University, Cambridge, US

Recent philosophical discussions about discrimination have focused on what makes discrimination wrongful in paradigmatic cases, such as in examples involving sexist hiring committees or racist university admissions procedures. The purpose of this course is to provide a forum within which to build upon these foundations by exploring the further complications that arise in more controversial cases of the kind that we encounter most commonly. Throughout the course, we will explore questions such as the following:

•    Is it wrong for the manager of a nightclub to hire on the basis of an applicant’s good looks?
•    Is it wrong for someone to choose where to live, or where to send her child to school, based upon the racial or ethnic make-up of the local population?
•    If so, is this kind of discrimination wrong for the same reasons, and to the same degree, as discrimination in professional contexts?
•    May the state interfere in individual’s private lives so as to minimise wrongful discrimination of this kind (assuming that it is wrongful) and, if so, which kinds of interventions are justifiable?

Answering these questions requires us to reflect upon whether the wrongness of discrimination varies when it intersects with concerns relating to personal autonomy, bodily integrity, privacy, and family life.

This one-week course will have three parts. First, we will spend one day surveying competing accounts of the wrongness of discrimination so as to familiarise students with existing debates in the philosophical literature. Second, we will spend two days investigating more controversial aspects of discrimination, focusing on discrimination in our private lives and on appearance-based discrimination. Third, we will spend two days evaluating various policy responses to wrongful discrimination, exploring the justifiability of affirmative action and of various policy responses to gender discrimination and the gendered division of labour.

This course has two distinctive merits. The first is that we will expose students to cutting-edge research from an assembly of world-class philosophers of the morality of discrimination. The second is that we address issues of enormous political concern, and so we will equip students with the transferable analytical skills to scrutinise policies that emerge in this domain.