Does Blind Review See Race?*

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5 Responses

  1. Brett Bellmore says:

    I don’t know what I can say beyond this:

    If the only acceptable selection process is one which is guaranteed to produce the numbers you want, shouldn’t you just stop beating around the bush, and admit you want a quota?

  2. Brett, I appreciate your attempt to increase comment diversity by adding straw people to the conversation. I’m sure this is done with helpful intent. However, you should be aware that straw people are not in fact an underrepresented group in blog comments.

  3. AYY says:

    In fairness to Brett, you did argue in favor of affirmative action.
    BTW, there are female Deans and females on law review editorial boards, and there’s no reason to think that a woman could evaluate an article on the Family Leave Act better than a man, and you didn’t cite much evidence to support your hypotheses.
    The proper analogy wouldn’t be to music performance, it would be to musical composition. You can blind test all you want and you can still tell the difference between Beethoven and Lady Gaga.

  4. A.J. Sutter says:

    @AYY: Actually, apropos of music, I read a book of aesthetic philosophy a number of years ago that made the opposite point. (Unfortunately, the book is either buried in storage or lost, and in either case on another continent from where I now sit.) You might not be able to tell the difference easily between composers that are roughly contemporary — e.g., Haendel and some Baroques, Haydn or Mozart or even early Beethoven and some Classicals, between various Romantics, etc. The author there argued that it’s legitimate to know the name of the composer because it gives the listener some context.

    E.g., if you know a piece is by Alkan you might think it’s quite characteristic, whereas if you know it was Liszt you might think he was having an odd day that day (or copying Alkan); a piece that might be an OK minor work for Haydn might sound quite juvenile for Beethoven, what’s typical Milhaud or Webern might be very prophetic for Berlioz or Mahler, etc. On a more contemporary note, you might also check some of the YouTube viewer threads at the links in Frank’s recent post about Eurovision: against the claim that Cascada is copying Loreen’s song, some fans claim that Cascada is being true to a style they’ve had since 2004.

    While I think this impairs your analogy, I think it’s at best neutral about Kaimi’s point, too. The philosopher was saying it matters that Alkan is Alkan and that Cascada is Cascada, not necessarily that, say, Alkan was Jewish or that Cascada is a German band with an English lead singer.

  5. Brett Bellmore says:

    “In fairness to Brett, you did argue in favor of affirmative action.”

    In fairness, I took the argument to be something along the lines of, “Merit selection might have concealed bias, and the pool being selected from might be biased, and this, and that…” And really, doesn’t this come down to the only proof of the process being fair that you’ll accept is the numbers turning out “right”?

    And if your only criteria for the process being fair is the numbers coming out right, and you feel entitled to tweak the process until it’s ‘fair’, how is this to be distinguished from a quota?