Responsibility for implicit bias

Holroyd, Jules (2012) Responsibility for implicit bias. Journal of Social Philosophy, 43 (3). pp. 274-306. ISSN 1467-9833

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Philosophers who have written about implicit bias have claimed or implied that individuals are not responsible, and therefore not blameworthy, for their implicit biases, and that this is a function of the nature of implicit bias as implicit: below the radar of conscious reflection, out of the control of the deliberating agent, and not rationally revisable in the way many of our reflective beliefs are.

I argue that close attention to the findings of empirical psychology, and to the conditions for blameworthiness, does not support these claims. I suggest that the arguments for the claim that individuals are not liable for blame are invalid, and that there is some reason to suppose that individuals are, at least sometimes, liable to blame for the extent to which they are influenced in behaviour and judgment by implicit biases. I also argue against the claim that it is counter-productive to see bias as something for which individuals are blameworthy; rather, understanding implicit bias as something for which we are (sometimes) liable to blame could be constructive.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The definitive version is available at
Keywords: Implicit bias, responsibility, moral psychology
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham UK Campus > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities > Department of Philosophy
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Holroyd, Dr Jules
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2013 16:58
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2016 15:13

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