Is present discrimination the only remedy for past discrimination? is closed as off-topic. I'm asking for feedback on reasons, please?

Why I'm confused:

  • The quote seems to fulfill the notability criteria, as it was published in a highly-sold book.
  • The original close vote was for the 'not notable claim' reason, but was later changed.

The top-voted objection is:

This feels like more of a Philosophical question than a Skeptical one

However, is feeling enough to disqualify the question?
Can this claim be shown to be right or wrong? I'd say yes. For instance, by comparing the results of varying conflict resolution approaches. (If I knew the answer, it wouldn't be much of a skeptical question.)


2 Answers 2


Can this claim be shown to be right or wrong? I'd say yes. For instance by comparing results of varying conflict resolution approches.

The original claim doesn't seem empirical to me. What you're proposing here/now seems rather more similar to reading such an implicit [empirical] claim. That kind of approach has been rejected in a similar case, regarding laws or regulations.

Also, you've not mentioned any empirical issue in your original Q, but you've quoted some (general dictionary) definitions as your reason to doubt.

Just to be clear:

  • Discrimination: the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually

  • remedy: something that corrects or counteracts

I know little about this author you've quoted, but it seems to me he is trying to coin some legal maxim, like e.g. "justice delayed is justice denied" (that happens to be related to remedies/redress). That, of course, is also rather false, if you take the dictionary meanings of "delayed" and "denied" because they're not entirely synonymous.

Whether a remedy in the more narrow legal meaning of the term would be "discriminating categorically rather than individually" in a case like this (or even in any class action lawsuit) even if said remedy would not be illegal discrimination is an interesting debate, but it seems mostly a discussion about concepts, their definitions and applicability, so suggestions to ask this on Law or Philosophy SE [instead] don't seem outlandish to me.

FWTW, this is roughly the same kind of "claim" like

consent is the basis of political legitimacy

for the reasons explained in that lecture: it's neither an analytic nor a empirical proposition.

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Considered as a purely descriptive statement is certainly false, but that's rather reading it too literally; "is" really means "should be" there, i.e. it's a normative statement.

There is a point of subtlety not immediately touched on there, namely that "political legitimacy" sometimes is defined in a way that makes that sentence tautological. In fact, making it a tautology also relies on how "consent" can be defined. Although, those are not necessarily the only definitions. And so that is similar to happens when people talk of remedies and/or discrimination, both of which can have a narrower or broader conception.

BTW, the problem of reparation (or compensation in more philosophical terms) is also rather nasty because e.g. every compensation method ever devised violates the non-comparison of interpersonal utility. So if you accept that that mathematical (economic theory) argument has bearing, then giving money is not reparations, or at least not accepted as such by everyone. And in fact, there is no method of compensation/reparation [for anything] that isn't perceived by someone [albeit being just a hypothetical someone] as violating their rights (understood in theoretical/philosophical sense, rather than in a concrete legal system).

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  • BTW, one of the later lectures in that series talks about the evolving US [courts] standards in establishing [illegal] discrimination happened. (Which could be useful towards an answer if the Q-statement were construed to e.g. be descriptive about US law, but not so useful if it's a normative statement. In fact, the lecture also argues that "it's impossible to reduce political choices to scientific choices all the way [down]". Defining [legal standards for] discrimination is explicitly called a "normative choice".) Apr 29, 2023 at 3:10

My thoughts on the question were a bit more direct than @Fizz.

Is present discrimination the only remedy for past discrimination?

No. Total 100% extermination of the entire human race is a very effective remedy for past discrimination. It prevents any further discrimination from occurring, and the killing would be completely indiscriminate.

Now, clearly that is a facetious answer that satisfies nobody, but the fact that it satisfies the question suggests there is something wrong with the question. For example, there are moral values - i.e. ethical lines that we will not cross - that are implied by the claim. Now the question degenerates into "Which moral values do you have relevant to this issue? Do they allow affirmative action?" which is off-topic here.

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