Berndt Rasmussen, Katharina & Nicolas Olsson Yaouzis | 2023
Journal of Applied Philosophy
This article sets out to describe and solve two puzzles that emerge in segregated labour markets (e.g. the USA or Sweden). First, in many hiring contexts people profess to adhere to egalitarian norms, and specifically to a qualification norm according to which job qualification should be the basis of employment. Still there is evidence of frequent norm violations (discrimination). Surprisingly, the norm persists and people do not frequently protest against such norm violations. The second puzzle is that people are suspicious of the hiring of minorities, perceiving such hirings as evidence that a ‘political correctness’ norm has replaced the qualification norm. The article proposes that both puzzles can be solved within a game-theoretical model of social norm-following, where implicit bias is introduced into an ‘employment game’. Within this model, implicit bias plays a double role. First, it interferes with employers' hiring decisions regarding ethnic majority and minority members, respectively. This is the standard way of understanding the effects of implicit bias. Second, implicit bias interferes with bystander evaluations of hired candidates' qualifications. This is a hitherto overlooked effect of implicit bias. The article concludes that once we understand the double role of implicit bias, the two puzzles are resolved.