The Moral Duty Not to Confirm Negative Stereotypes

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Social interaction is laden with stereotypes. Throughout history negative stereotypes have been immensely harmful, leading to hatred, vilification, and direct harm such as discrimination, and they continue to be so in almost all societies. It is widely accepted that we ought not to view members of other groups negatively in stereotypical ways, and also ought not to apply negative stereotypes to members of our own group (or even to ourselves). However, is there any special moral obligation on the targets of such negative stereotypes to take care not to confirm them? May one even be blameworthy for not doing so? The very thought seems outrageous. Yet I will argue that it is plausible to think that, in fact, the victims, too, have pro tanto obligations to prevent stereotype confirmation (henceforth sc), in many central contexts. I am not aware of any sustained philosophical discussion making this claim.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Moral Philosophy
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Saul Smilansky, 2023.


  • discrimination
  • moral duties
  • moral obligations
  • moral paradoxes
  • stereotypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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