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Surprise (Part III)
January 20, 2009, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Ethics

The meanness of bigotry lies in its denial of our ability to transcend our background, our genes, our culture or whatever.  A good person is open to be surprised by this kind of transcendence.  

The wrongness of expecting a woman to be a worse scientist than a man is not a mistake about genes or whatever.  It would be wrong even if we had decisive proof that women, as a group, tend to have qualities which diminish their scientific abilities.  It is good and proper to open to be surprised by an individual’s ability to transcends their background.  This readiness to be surprised is a sign of excellence of character. 

(BTW – I take it that we don’t have this kind of proof about women being generally inferior.  But sexism would be wrong even if we did have it.  So I’d say that sexism isn’t merely ignorant.  It would be wrong even if based on knowledge.  The right response is not to say “Here’s some evidence that men and women are equal in their abilities in every way.”  That might be true.  Or partly true.  It might be false.  But, in any case, it is mostly irrelevant.  Which is to say that I agree with some of the goals of the egalitarians, even if I’m not an egalitarian in the technical sense.)

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