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Demographic statistics in defensive decisions

Author(s): Bolinger, Renee

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Abstract: A popular informal argument suggests that statistics about the preponderance of criminal involvement among particular demographic groups partially justify others in making defensive mistakes against members of the group. One could worry that evidence-relative accounts of moral rights vindicate this argument. After constructing the strongest form of this objection, I offer several replies: (i) most demographic statistics face an unmet challenge from reference class problems, (ii) even those that meet it fail to ground non-negligible conditional probabilities, (iii) even if they did, they introduce new costs likely to cancel out any justificatory contribution of the statistic, but (iv) even if they didn’t, demographic facts are the wrong sort to make a moral difference to agents’ negative rights. I conclude that the popular argument should be rejected, and evidence-relative theories do not have the worrisome implication.
Publication Date: 1-Oct-2019
Citation: Bolinger, Renee. (2019). Demographic statistics in defensive decisions. Synthese, 1 - 18
Pages: 1 - 18
Language: English
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Synthese
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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