Race Research and the Ethics of Belief.
On most accounts, beliefs are supposed to fit the world rather than change it. But believing can have social consequences, since the beliefs we form underwrite our actions and impact our character. Because our beliefs affect how we live our lives and how we treat other people, it is surprising how little attention is usually given to the moral status of believing apart from its epistemic justification. In what follows, I develop a version of the harm principle that applies to beliefs as well as actions. In doing so, I challenge the often exaggerated distinction between forming beliefs and acting on them.1 After developing this view, I consider what it might imply about controversial research the goal of which is to yield true beliefs but the outcome of which might include negative social consequences. In particular, I focus on the implications of research into biological differences between racial groups.
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