The Ethics and Etiquette of Statistical Discrimination
By Bryan Caplan
No matter what they say, everyone engages in statistical discrimination. (See also here). Judging everyone as an individual is expensive, and relying on statistical generalizations is a cheap and effective alternative. You don’t clutch your purse when you see a bunch of little old ladies approaching on a deserted street. You don’t offer a policeman a joint. You don’t hire a guy with a mohawk as a receptionist at a law firm – even if he promises to get a hair cut. Why not? Because on average, little old ladies don’t commit violent crimes, policemen arrest people for possession of marijuana, and guys with mohawks have trouble with authority.
Of course, the inevitable existence of some statistical discrimination doesn’t make the practice immune to criticism. You can grant that it’s OK to some degree, but – even if the law is silent – still limited by ethics and/or etiquette. But precisely what limitations do you think are justified, and why?
P.S. If your behavior is inconsistent with your principles, please consider the possibility that your principles are unreasonable. 🙂