The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Thu Oct 23, 2014
Howison Library, 4–6 PM
George Myro Memorial Lecture
Sally Haslanger (MIT)
Social Structure, Narrative and Explanation

For several decades, social theorists have argued that racism, sexism, and other forms of inequality, are best understood as forms of structural injustice. On such accounts, broad social structures systematically disadvantage certain groups and privilege others. Structural explanation is intended as an alternative to accounts that rely on narratives about the bad (sexist, racist…) behavior of individuals. However, recent work on discrimination suggests that even those who are explicitly committed to equality are susceptible to acting in ways that reflect implicit bias, and there has been much interest in showing how implicit bias explains inequality. This paper raises questions about the relationship between structural explanations and implicit bias explanations. Are implicit bias explanations a re-emergence of individualistic explanation? Do they inherit some of the ideological presuppositions of individualism? Or are they compatible with - perhaps even a necessary component of - a structural approach?