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Religion and Spirituality, Science and Philosophy Use this forum to discuss what you believe in. This is a place where everyone may share their views freely.

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Not sure where to put this, but I think it fits under philosophy: What is prejudice? - August 5th 2010, 10:07 AM

What exactly is prejudice?

According to the dictionary, it's a preconceived notion of a person or group--basically pre-judging someone based on one little thing. I'm pretty sure we could all agree that if Dick met Jane and thought Jane was really cool, then figured out Jane's a Jew and stopped hanging out with her, that would be prejudiced.

But what if Dick meets Jane and thinks Jane is really cool, then figures out Jane is a drug dealer. Even though Jane's never been in trouble with the law and would never, ever dream of getting Dick involved with drugs, he stops hanging out with her. Is that prejudiced?

Or maybe it's something less . . . illegal. Maybe Jane is a Satanist or a Wiccan or an Atheist. Maybe Jane one day decides to dye her hair bright pink and get an eyebrow ring. Maybe Jane's too Republican and Dick is too liberal.

My point is, what's the difference between not liking someone based on one aspect of his or her personality, and being prejudiced? How do you know if you're being close minded, or if you're making a smart decision? Where's the line? Going back to my first example, there's an obvious difference between accepting that someone is Jewish and accepting that someone is a drug dealer, but hey, I've known some really sleezy Jews and some really sweet drug dealers.

So yeah. Sorry, if this doesn't make sense. I'm just sort of rambling. This has been bouncing around in my head for a few days, and I just wanted some outside opinions.


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Re: Not sure where to put this, but I think it fits under philosophy: What is prejudice? - August 5th 2010, 06:00 PM

I believe the difference is that prejudice is a judgment made about a person without knowing the person AT ALL. It's seeing a person across the room and someone telling you they are a republican and you immediately not liking them. In all of your Dick and Jane scenarios Dick knows Jane as a person before finding out the bad thing about her. So he knows for a fact exactly what Jane is like and is making his decision based on knowledge not assumptions.


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Re: Not sure where to put this, but I think it fits under philosophy: What is prejudice? - August 5th 2010, 09:17 PM

Prejudices are attributions which have a strong judgemental or emotional component. Attribution is a psychological process which categorises people by perceived characteristics and as such neither negative nor wrong. Everybody categorises, it's necessary to get a sense of other people and to define your place among them.
Prejudices happen when these categorisations affect your opinions and behaviour towards these people. Stereotypes, if you lack ability to differentiate between the category and the individual.
   
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Re: Not sure where to put this, but I think it fits under philosophy: What is prejudice? - August 6th 2010, 12:37 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by thebigmole View Post
In all of your Dick and Jane scenarios Dick knows Jane as a person before finding out the bad thing about her. So he knows for a fact exactly what Jane is like and is making his decision based on knowledge not assumptions.
Alright, let's Say Dick doesn't know Jane, but is about to be introduced to her. What's the difference between saying "Jane is Jewish, she must be a bad person" and saying "Jane is a drug dealer, she must be a bad person." I mean, obviously it's a good decision to not want to get to know a drug dealer, but where do you draw the line on what you use to judge people?


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Re: Not sure where to put this, but I think it fits under philosophy: What is prejudice? - August 6th 2010, 10:25 PM

it's basically unfairly judging someone before you know the facts.. then it turns into discrimination when you act on those judgements, usually negatively.. but it could be positive as well.


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Re: Not sure where to put this, but I think it fits under philosophy: What is prejudice? - August 6th 2010, 11:18 PM

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Originally Posted by Anonymity View Post
Alright, let's Say Dick doesn't know Jane, but is about to be introduced to her. What's the difference between saying "Jane is Jewish, she must be a bad person" and saying "Jane is a drug dealer, she must be a bad person." I mean, obviously it's a good decision to not want to get to know a drug dealer, but where do you draw the line on what you use to judge people?
It's still prejudice because it is making an opinion about a person based on an assumption. Dick hears Jane is a drug dealer and automatically thinks she must be a bad person and wants nothing to do with her. But he doesn't know the facts. Maybe Jane is a dealer that strictly deals marijuana to chemo patients. Or maybe she doesn't have a choice in the matter.


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Re: Not sure where to put this, but I think it fits under philosophy: What is prejudice? - August 17th 2010, 03:12 AM

I think "prejudice", like "discrimination", is a word with an undeservedly bad reputation. I am prejudiced against homophobes, anti-semitic people, and various other categories of idiots. I discriminate against boring people by not sitting next to them when I can help it.

Everyone has prejudices because we all have the background knowledge and assumptions necessary to develop them. I don't think the capacity for prejudice is bad in and of itself, but it can be bad if you're so quick to jump to conclusions that you miss out on getting to know someone worthwhile, or lump someone in with a group to which he or she doesn't actually belong, or let the prejudice obfuscate your thought process.


   
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Re: Not sure where to put this, but I think it fits under philosophy: What is prejudice? - August 27th 2010, 05:25 AM

I would define a prejudice as attributing a subjective characteristic to an objective title or fact. What I mean, for example, is having a pre-conceived notion that someone who works for a banking firm is meticulous and boring or that a comedian is funny and charismatic, before truly knowing the person for who the person is. It goes beyond that, like saying you hate the taste of vegetables when you only have had carrots and potatoes before. When you make any generalization about something that you have never had contact with based on its objective category, then you have made a prejudice. But a prejudice isn't inherently evil. We as humans naturally filter information into these subjective categories as a survival instinct to know what is likely to be enjoyable and what is likely to be not enjoyable even before coming in contact with it. What is important is that we recognize these prejudices and learn to be open to exceptions that may arise.


"A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person."

   
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