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The Reflection of "Bayesian Inference and Contractualist Justification on Interstate 95"

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By leeqiumeng
Words 378
Pages 2
The article, "Bayesian Inference and Contractualist Justification on Interstate 95", written by Arthur Isak Applbaum sheds light on philosophic controversial issue of racial profiling. (1) Applbaum argues that the use of racial generalizations can be justified if the statistical inference is accurate. He describes three types of cases that police might use group-based selection criteria: group-based patrol, group-based enforcement, and group-based identification. The later one states that police will select unidentified people who fit the group-based description for a known violation from public for scrutiny. For example, if a thief is a tall redhead woman, then police try to stop all the tall redhead women to find that thief. (2) He argues that, under this type, accurate profiling can make police more effective and people who are selected only bear a minor cost. The author claims that if the statistical generalization is accurate, then the net gain from searching strategies would be huge from profiling. For the benefits side, profiling helps police largely reduce their searching work and makes the efforts more effective. For the costs side, the selected people may only bear few minutes questioning and that is not a big deal for rational persons except particular circumstances. Thus, the net gain from profiling, compared to search all the people, is largely positive. Hence, the use of racial profiling can be justified in this case.
(3) Although the profiling can help police complete their work more efficient, I do not agree with the author’s benefits-costs argument. As I mentioned, I do agree that the benefits of the use of racial generalization can be large. However, I would argue that the costs of profiling should also be huge, or at least, unpredictable. The author only mentions that for one person that a waste of few minutes is not a big deal, but what if this…...

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