Bias in Context 4
What is the relationship between psychological and structural explanations of persistent social injustice?
This conference—the final in a series of four (see here and here for earlier events) —considers recent empirical and philosophical work that frames social injustice in terms of individualistic psychological explanations. Such explanations appeal to phenomena such as prejudice, implicit bias, stereotyping, and stereotype threat, in order to understand persisting inequities in a broad range of contexts, including educational, corporate, medical, and informal social contexts (Valian 1997; Fricker 2007; Antony 2012; Saul, 2013; Madva 2016).
A key challenge to these explanations, and the discourses that incorporate them, maintains that the focus on individual psychology is at best obfuscatory of, and at worst totally irrelevant to, more fundamental causes of injustice, which are institutional and structural (Young 1990; Cudd 2006, Anderson 2010; Ayala 2015, Haslanger 2015). Yet structural explanations face difficulties accommodating the extent to which individual agency is implicated in those problematic structures or institutions. Nor are they well placed to articulate how individual agency might be directed towards changing these structures.
This conference will generate more fully worked-out understandings of the interaction between these two kinds of explanations. It will also investigate the normative and practical implications of one’s explanatory mode on attempts to address bias via institutional policy, interpersonal intervention, and collective action.