TRINPsite, 51.13.1 - 54.10.5            MNI/BoI/5/4/2Txt.htm

       A distinction is only relevant  if  the focus to which it
is thought to be relevant  is  a genuine determinant, that is, a
determinant  which  does not itself  depend on  one or more non-
relevant  differences  made.  If  we  allowed for  fake  focuses
every  distinction  would  be 'relevant'  because  people  could
choose  a discriminatory attitude or practise itself  as a focus
then. Thus every distinction of ethnicity would be 'relevant' if
the promotion of ethnocentrism itself could be chosen,  and were
accepted,  as the focal determinant to establish the 'relevance'
of  the  distinction.   If   ethnocentrism  is  defined  as  the
attitude or practise  of  making irrelevant distinctions  on the
basis  of  the ethnic  group  to  which  somebody  belongs,  the
underlying 'reasoning'  could  even  logically  be  rejected  as
   But assume,  someone  gives  another definition  of ethnocen-
trism  or formulates  `er goal  without making use of the notion
of relevancy  or  a term synonymous to  (ir)relevant.  For exam-
ple,  `e says  "my goal is promoting the happiness or well-being
of  ethnic group A  and/or  the suffering  of  all other  ethnic
groups". In a purely truth-conditional sense such 'reasoning' is
not circular now.  In order to achieve `er aim,  the distinction
to be made between ethnic group A and all other ethnic groups in
the specific situation  concerned  is  'relevant'.  Tho  not  so
obvious as before, the 'reasoning' behind this attitude is still
unfounded  because  the distinction made under the specific cir-
cumstances is the same as the one made in the formulation of the
goal itself, and therefore stands or falls with the relevancy of
the distinction made_within_the goal. (Note that this conclusion
cannot be drawn  if  the person`s goal had been  everybody ought
to promote the happiness of `er own group.)  An ethnic  group in
itself is not a goal,  and must be distinguished on the basis of
some factor,  but  if  that factor is  happiness,  or  suffering
for that matter, as mentioned in the formulation of the goal, it
is  not relevant  to distinguish  on the basis of ethnicity ( or
race or species ) between sentient beings  in that the happiness
(or suffering) of the one should be promoted and not that of the
other.  (However,  questions  of  intensity, amplitude  and life
plans  may play  a role  in assessing  the implications  of this
standpoint, but irrespective of ethnicity.) If there is no other
factor  on  the basis  of  which  the distinction between ethnic
group  A  and  all  other  groups  is  relevant,  the  so-called
'relevance' is unfounded  as it is 'relevance' with respect to a
goal  in which an irrelevant distinction has already been drawn.
Such a goal is a fake focus of relevancy.
   The nonrelevant distinction  made  on  the basis  of the same
factor  which is said  to be  relevant  in respect  of a certain
focal determinant  may also be made in the phrasing of the goal.
Thus  when  someone claims  that `e is 'justified in refusing to
employ  a male au pair girl or a female foreman'  needing a good
au pair  girl  or  foreman  is  `er (fake)  focus  and  sex  `er
factor.  However,  the sexual distinction has already been drawn
underhandedly  in  the  focus  itself  which  should  have  been
needing  a good au pair  (person)  or  foreperson  in  the first
place. Those who take this kind of 'reasoning' seriously must be
extremely antiegalitarian.
   Not seldom  is the fallacy involved  simply a case of 'factor
fuzzing'. For example, when helping students and senior citizens
(say, by charging them less for a service) is given as focus and
poverty as factor.  In the focal determinant  the distinction is
made  then  on  the basis  of  age  and studentship,  presumably
because the people mentioned are believed to have no work and no
earnings.  But this distinction is not relevant  if poverty were
really the reason to help people,  because then the focus should
be helping  poor people.  Some students,  and probably a greater
number  of  people  over  55 or 65,  may  have  moderate to high
incomes or assets,  and  other poor people  are neither students
nor senior citizens.
   A focus of relevancy may also be _corrective_instead of genu-
ine or fake.  What is often called "positive", "compensatory" or
"reverse discrimination" or "corrective justice"  could  be said
to amount to  making  a distinction which is relevant in respect
of a corrective focus.  If  the distinction is made on the basis
of  F,  the focus  is,  for example,  the correction  of  damage
suffered by  the person or group formerly or elsewhere discrimi-
nated against on the basis of F.  Altho  the distinction may not
be relevant in respect of the usual, undisputed focuses (such as
the quality of professional work to be done),  it is relevant in
respect  of  the goal  of correction.  Hence,  if  there is dis-
agreement about the legitimacy of a corrective treatment, it may
not be about the relevancy of the distinction itself, but rather
about the legitimacy of the focal determinant(s) chosen or to be

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