Am I a racist? Implicit bias and the ascription of racism

Neil Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is good evidence that many people harbour attitudes that conflict with those they endorse. In the language of social psychology, they seem to have implicit attitudes that conflict with their explicit beliefs. There has been a great deal of attention paid to the question whether agents like this are responsible for actions caused by their implicit attitudes, but much less to the question whether they can rightly be described as (say) racist in virtue of harbouring them. In this paper, I attempt to answer this question using three different standards, providing by the three dominant kinds of accounts of racism (doxastic, behavioural and affective). I argue that on none of these accounts should agents like this be described as racists. However, it would be misleading to say, without qualification, that they are not racists. On none of these accounts are agents like this entirely off the hook.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-551
Number of pages18
JournalThe Philosophical Quarterly
Issue number268
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


  • racism
  • implicit bias
  • belief
  • behaviour
  • affect


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