1st Edition

The Ethics of Microaggression

By Regina Rini Copyright 2021
    268 Pages
    by Routledge

    268 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Slips of the tongue, unwitting favoritism, and stereotyped assumptions are just some examples of microaggression. Nearly all of us commit microaggressions at some point, even if we don’t intend to. Yet over time a pattern of microaggression can cause considerable harm by reminding members of marginalized groups of their precarious position.

    The Ethics of Microaggression is a much needed and clearly written exploration of this pervasive yet complex problem. What is microaggression and how do we know when it is occurring? Can we be held responsible for microaggressions and if so, how? How has social media affected the problem? What role can philosophy play in understanding microaggression? Regina Rini explores these highly topical and controversial questions in an engaging and fair-minded way, arguing that an event is a microaggression precisely because it causes a marginalized person to experience an ambiguous encounter with oppression. She illustrates her argument with compelling examples from media, politics, and psychology and explains the significance of essential concepts, such as media representation, reparative renaming, and safe spaces.

    The Ethics of Microaggression explains what microaggression is and offers strategies for combating it. Assuming no prior knowledge of the topic or philosophy, it demystifies a controversial and extremely important topic in clear language. It is ideal for anyone coming to the topic for the first time and for students in philosophy, gender studies, race theory, disability theory, and social and political philosophy.


    1. Microaggression basics

    2. All in the eye of the beholder?

    3. Collective harm and individual blame

    4. Agency problems: Ignorance and lack of control

    5. Proleptic blame

    6. How to do better

    7. Uptake failure and dismissal

    8. Skillful blame and social media chaos

    Conclusion: Justice for an imperfect world




    Regina Rini holds the Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Moral and Social Cognition at York University in Toronto. Her writing has appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Aeon, and numerous academic journals.

    "What a wonderful book! Rini writes with a rare combination of analytic rigor and delicious readability. The book sparkles with anecdotes and examples - personal, political, and historical - that engagingly convey the complexity of the issues. I especially admire Rini's multi-layered treatment of blame, which deftly avoids the dozen pitfalls of less nuanced approaches." - Eric Schwitzgebel, University of California, Riverside, USA

    "This is a truly fascinating book, chockful of insights, engaging narratives, fun turns of phrase, and incisive argumentation. An excellent text for philosophy courses (on ethics, social justice, disability, feminist philosophy, and philosophy of race), which is also frank and straightforward enough to engage anyone interested in how we should proceed toward a more just and humane society." - Alex Madva, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, USA