Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl


Workplace discrimination, relational equality, and the comparative view

On Friday 4 June Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen is invited to give a key note speech at the workshop "Working as Equals" hosted by Elfenworks Center of SEBA at Saint Mary’s College of California and the Zicklin Center at the Wharton School.

Photo of stones on a beach by Maj Thimm Carlsen
Photo by Maj Thimm Carlsen

The workshop is "on relational egalitarianism and the workplace" and tunes in on the workplace hierarchy and the moral dimensions of relations in the workplace.

The workshop takes place on 2-5 June and will due to the covid-situation be online.

You can read more about the workshop here: Working as Equals

Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen will give a talk on “Workplace discrimination, relational equality, and the comparative view”

Abstract: It is often, though not universally, assumed that if an employer discriminates against an employee, then the employer treats this person worse than other employees who belong to the relevant complementary group, e.g., if an employer discriminates against a female employee in relation to promotions, then there are male employees and the employer is, say, more disposed to promote them than to promote female employees. Call this the comparative view. One important upshot of the comparative view is that, almost by definition, work place discrimination clashes with the ideal of people relating to one another as equals. Unfortunately, the comparative view is vulnerable to several challenges. First, in some cases there are no individuals belonging to the relevant complementary group, whom the employer treats worse. This challenge can be met by moving to a revised comparative view that uses a counterfactual version of the comparative test. Second, even if we could come up with a plausible account of which counterfactual test the revised comparative view directs us to apply, there is a further challenge that the use of such a counterfactual test gives rise to a misdiagnosis of the kind of discrimination that is at stake. Third, some philosophers argue that the correct judgments are presented by a counterfactual test that compares how the same individual is treated in different possible worlds, not, as implied by the revised comparative view, a comparison of how different individuals are treated relative to one another. This chapter defends the claim that the revised comparative view can be amended and supplemented in non-ad hoc ways such that it is immune to all of the three above-mentioned challenges, while retaining its appeal. An upshot of the defense is that we can retain the view that workplace discrimination, like other forms of discrimination, is incompatible with the ideal of a society in which people relate to one another as equals.