601:767. PROFILES, PROBABILITIES & STEREOTYPES: The Rights and Wrongs of Generalization (2) W
Enrollment limited to 20 students

We constantly rely on generalizing.  The determination that pilots should retire at a certain age is based on an empirical generalization that age correlates with poor eyesight, just as the banning of pit bulls correlates with the fact that many pit bulls are aggressive.  The possession of a substantial amount of drugs can lead to significant punishment because we generalize that ownership of that volume must mean the person is a dealer, not a user with a lifelong supply. Insurance companies use group characteristics to determine premiums, resulting in higher payments for young male drivers because young male drivers get in the most accidents.  Despite this widespread, and perhaps unavoidable, reliance, we are often wary of some sorts of predictions that we make.  Profiling and stereotyping seem morally problematic, as there is something suspect about treating individuals as members of groups and not as autonomous individuals worthy of individual respect. This course explores when it is permissible to generalize and when it is not, focusing on the tensions between the need to create general rules and the need to treat people fairly and equally.     This intensive summer course will require short reaction papers for each class. There will be no exam.


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