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Law and Race Commons

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Civil Rights and Discrimination

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Counterfactual causal thinking

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Eddie Murphy And The Dangers Of Counterfactual Causal Thinking About Detecting Racial Discrimination, Issa Kohler-Hausmann Mar 2019

Eddie Murphy And The Dangers Of Counterfactual Causal Thinking About Detecting Racial Discrimination, Issa Kohler-Hausmann

Northwestern University Law Review

The model of discrimination animating some of the most common approaches to detecting discrimination in both law and social science—the counterfactual causal model—is wrong. In that model, racial discrimination is detected by measuring the “treatment effect of race,” where the treatment is conceptualized as manipulating the raced status of otherwise identical units (e.g., a person, a neighborhood, a school). Most objections to talking about race as a cause in the counterfactual model have been raised in terms of manipulability. If we cannot manipulate a person’s race at the moment of a police stop, traffic encounter, or ...