Excluded woman

Individual and collective responsibility for discrimination from implicit bias

The project aims to evaluate the ethical consequences, on an individual and collective level, of implicit bias that causes ethnic discrimination.

Imagine Linda, a convinced and explicit anti-racist, who when making hiring decisions discriminates against ethnic minorities. How can this discrepance between her explicit values and behaviour be explained?

During the past 10–15 years, researchers have discovered correlations between discriminatory behaviour and so called implicit bias – stereotypes that are unconscious and automatic but influence behaviour, attitudes and understanding concerning for example ethnicity. Researchers have also shown that these can contradict explicit beliefs and desires.

This phenomenon poses a challenge to moral philosophy; If Linda is not in control or even unaware of her biases, how can she be morally responsible?

In this project we wish to evaluate the ethical consequences of implicit bias that causes ethnic discrimination by considering this hypothesis: Implicit biases give rise to morally wrongful racist discrimination, for which we are morally responsible to a larger degree and in different ways than we might Think.

Our project aims to contribute to social progress by actively seeking contact with different actors outside of academia, and by suggesting policy changes in order to combat discrimination.

Workshop: Non Ideal Social Ontology III


Working Papers

  • Katharina Berndt Rasmussen, ”Implicit bias and discrimination”, Institute for Futures Studies, working paper.
  • Åsa Burman, ”Collective responsibility for implicit bias”, Institute for Futures Studies, working paper.

Other resultats



Principal Investigator

Project members

Åsa Burman Associate Professor, Practical Philosophy


Jane & Dan Olssons Stiftelse