Thursday, May 15, 2008


Sexist Bias

Suppose we think that a person's political position is biased by his group category. We might think that a man will be biased in a pro-man direction on issues involving the role of women or wealth redistribution. Of course, a woman would be biased in the opposite direction according to this idea, so no person would have an objective opinion. That is probably the conclusion feminists would have reach, actually.

I think the conclusion is too hopeless because the idea starts off on the wrong foot. A man is a man, to be sure, but he also has personal biases in favor of his relatives, many of whom might be women. In fact, for many issues what would matter most, if personal interest is what counts, is not one's own sex, but one's children's. I have a wife, four daughters, and a son. That means my family's interest is pro-female by 5 to 2. Thus, I should be biased in the pro-female direction, and if I talk like a conservative patriarchalist, well, that's a sign the neutral, objective position is even more patriarchalist than me.

The people who are most biased are thus male and female homosexuals, who might have bias proportions of 2 or 3 or more to 0, and the divorced women with daughters. Unmarried people are next, who have biases of 1 to 0. Then come unbalanced families such as my own with ratios such as 5 to 2. Couples without children would be unbiased, with proportions of 1 to 1, and the most unbiased of all would be a large family with 5 sons and 4 daughters, which would be 6 to 6 (helping out with the problem of someone weighting his own self highest).

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