Anti-Discrimination Laws

Some interesting discussion about anti-discrimination laws here:

(The posts by xenophanes are me.)


Fundamentally, it’s irrational to force people who disagree with you to do things your way if they don’t see why it’s best — to make them go against their best judgment (also irrational to deny they have best judgment, attribute their ideas to things other than thought, and so deny the disagreement exists at all, and forcibly override them on that basis). The only rational thing to do if you want a (B) style world is persuade people, which is not at all the same as campaigning for laws to force people.

What do you think? And what do you think Popper would have said about it?

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2 Responses to Anti-Discrimination Laws

  1. Alan Forrester says:

    I agree that employers should not be forced to hire people they don’t want to hire. Rather, if an employer is biased it would be good if somebody persuaded him to change his mind.

    I think Popper probably wouldn’t have backed forcing employers not to be biased in their hiring by law. In Chapter 6 of “Open Society and Its Enemies” (OSE), Popper argues that citizens should determine the morality of the state and not the other way around, see

    Further support for the position that Popper wouldn’t have supported using the law to force employers to hire people in a certain way can be found in Volume 1 of OSE, Note 4 to Chapter 7:

    “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.”

  2. Rafe says:

    Popper could have gone the other way, given his attitude to the role of the state in controlling economic power which he articulated in the OSE where he wrote about laws limiting hours of work and other conditions of employment. I see this as a mis-reading of the situation because Popper over-rated so-called economic power.

    Employers will actually penalize themselves if they don’t employ the best people for the job, but it is not the role of the state to make them do that

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