Dear Philosophers,

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Dear Philosophers, Can we regard Race discrimination as an aesthetic issue? By this I mean to view the differences among different races as aesthetic preference. So, can we say that when a person doesn't like a specific human race, he/she is just making an aesthetic choice, and, consequently, if we do not allow him/her to express his/her preference we are limiting his/her freedom of speech? Thank you

What seems to be at issue in this question is not racial discrimination, in terms of which the question begins, which would seem to imply that what's at issue is negative bias towards people in virtue of their race, which certainly wouldn't be an aesthetic, but a moral issue; the second sentence suggests that what's really at issue in the question is the nature of the basis for distinguishing among people with respect to their race, which is a distinct matter, and which need not--although, admittedly, it tends to--have moral and political implications. Now there is no doubt that individuals from different races often appear different--even if, as recent empirical work has suggested, there is little to no genetic difference between such people, so that they are not essentially different, even though they appear different--and it does not seem implausible to me that one might, whether because of habit, preference or other reasons, find individuals of certain races less attractive than those of other races. The mere fact that one finds individuals of certain races more attractive than those of other races need not itself have political and moral implications, and if in saying that one preferred individuals of certain races to those of other races, one were merely signaling one's aesthetic preference, this need not reflect on one's moral status at all, for the aesthetic preference need not have moral implications. Given current US law regarding freedom of speech, provided that one isn't in a politically sensitive position and thereby not speaking for oneself, but from one's position, it seems to me that there is no bar against the expression of one's preference for individuals of certain races, rather than others, regardless of whether in so doing one is expressing an aesthetic or a moral judgment, and no law could be passed that banned or even limited such expression. (Even if this expression did even incite others to mistreat members of the less aesthetically races, hate speech has been upheld in the US Supreme Court.) To be sure, if in expressing one's preference for individuals of some race(s) as opposed to others, one were making a value claim, in addition to registering an aesthetic preference, then even though, in the appropriate circumstances, even such expression could not be curtailed, such expression would reflect morally on the agent expressing such a preference, but if the preference were indeed merely aesthetic, then it does not seem to me that it would have any such implication whatsoever.

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