Subclinical Bias, Manners, and Moral Harm


  • Amy Olberding


Mundane and often subtle forms of bias generate harms that can be fruitfully understood as akin to the harms evident in rudeness. Although subclinical expressions of bias are not mere rudeness, like rudeness they often manifest through the breach of mannerly norms for social cooperation and collaboration. At a basic level, the perceived harm of mundane forms of bias often has much to do with feeling oneself unjustly or arbitrarily cut out of a group, a group that cooperates and collaborates but does not do so with me. Appealing to the subtle but familiar choreography of mannered social interaction, I argue, makes it easier to recognize how exclusion can be accomplished through slight but symbolically significant gestures and styles of interaction, where bias manifests not in announced hostility but in an absence of the cooperation and collaboration upon which we rely socially.