Prejudice as the misattribution of salience☆
What does it take to be prejudiced against a particular group? And is prejudice always epistemically problematic, or are there epistemically innocent forms of prejudice? In this paper, I argue that certain important forms of prejudice can be wholly constituted by the differential accessibility of certain pieces of information. These accessibility relations constitute a salience structure. A subject is prejudiced against a particular group when their salience structure is unduly organised around that category. This is significant because it reveals that prejudice does not require the presence of any explicit cognitive or emotive attitude, nor need it manifest in behaviour: it can be solely constituted by the organisation of information, where that information may be accurate and well-founded. Nonetheless, by giving an account of ‘undue organisation’ in epistemic terms, I show that this account is compatible with an understanding of prejudice as a negatively-valenced epistemic category.
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