Relational and Distributive Discrimination

Rona Dinur*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent philosophical accounts of discrimination face challenges in accommodating robust intuitions about the particular way in which it is wrongful—most prominently, the intuition that discriminatory actions intrinsically violate equality irrespective of their contingent consequences. The paper suggests that we understand the normative structure of discrimination in a way that is different from the one implicitly assumed by these accounts. It argues that core discriminatory wrongs—such as segregation in Apartheid South Africa—divide into two types, corresponding to violations of relational and distributive equality; and that a pluralistic view of the internal structure of each type should be adopted. This normative structure serves to appropriately vindicate the mentioned intuitions; it also contributes to clarifying the normative underpinnings of legal concepts associated with discrimination (including the distinctions between direct and indirect, or ‘disparate treatment/impact’ discrimination, and intentional vs. unintentional discrimination), and developing a more productive public discourse around allegations of discrimination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-349
Number of pages29
JournalLaw and Philosophy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes


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