In the UK, and in many other countries, it is illegal to discriminate on certain personal characteristics in many circumstances, including employment and accommodation. These characteristics include nationality, ethnic or national origin. It is also illegal to NOT discriminate on other characteristics when making employment and accommodation decisions. These characteristics are described as "allowed to stay in England" and overlap very strongly with nationality, ethnic or national origin.

This would appear to present a contradiction, at least if one views the law and morality as interdependent. How can it be wrong to discriminate on one set of personal characteristics but also wrong to NOT discriminate on another set of personal characteristics that are almost exactly the same as the former? Has anyone attempted to justify this apparent contradiction from a moral philosophy standpoint?

  • Availability of certain documents is hardly an unchangeable "personal characteristic", like nationality or gender, discriminating on which is generally seen as prejudiced and unfair. That some personality neutral discrimination has to take place follows from pragmatic reasons, a country has limited capacity and cannot accommodate everybody. Not that this selection cannot be abused, and often is.
    – Conifold
    Jul 8 at 17:12

There is discrimination and there is discrimination. One involves giving rights and the other involves just discriminating. You çan discriminate between various people (and even be obliged to do) if this discrimination is not based on the qualities of the other kind of discrimination (color of the skin, sexual preference, religion, cultural background, etc.).

When the grounds of discrimination (say having sickle cell anemy or not) are connected with the grounds you are not to allowed to discriminate on then of course it is more complicated. In that case you have to look carefully if the discrimination is made on the just grounds and that the grounds are not used to unlawfully discriminate.

What has philosophy to say about this? I don't know. I do know that the obligation to discriminate and law against it are not contradictory. You can be obliged to check for Corona and at the same time be forbidden to discriminate on other grounds. It becomes more difficult if there are relatively many Asians suffering from it.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.