Exploring discrimination law

Date Published: 14.05.2015

A Theory of Discrimination Law, a new book by Wadham Fellow Tarunabh Khaitan, provides a theoretical defence of this controversial area of law.

Marrying doctrine from five jurisdictions and debates in contemporary political philosophy, this book provides a theoretical defence of discrimination law. The first part of the book considers questions such as what makes a legal norm a norm of discrimination law and what is the architecture of discrimination law. It offers a theoretically rigorous account of the identity and scope of discrimination law, explaining the doctrine in a clear thematic structure.

Placing the protection of liberty as the central purpose of discrimination law, the book asks what the point of discrimination law is, arguing that it is to remove abiding, pervasive, and substantial relative group disadvantage.

The third part of the book offers a theoretical account of the duties imposed by discrimination law. A common definition of the ‘antidiscrimination duty’ accommodates tools as diverse as the prohibition on direct and indirect discrimination and harassment, and provisions for reasonable adjustment. These different tools are shown to share a common normative concern and a single analytical structure. This section also defends the imposition of unidirectional and non-universal duties only to certain specific duty-bearers and explains the conditions under which affirmative action is justified.

Tarun explains his inspiration for writing this book which is aimed at legal academics, philosophers and students of legal philosophy and discrimination law: "I was struck by the widening gulf between what law understands as discriminatory, and what most non-lawyers take to be discrimination. The law cares more about the effects of the act on the victim, whereas popularly, the discriminator’s illegitimate reasons for the act are key to its characterisation as discriminatory. In this book, I defend the legal approach to regulating discrimination."

Describing the book, Professor Leslie Green at the University of Oxford said: “A Theory of Discrimination Law is an engaging, and engaged, work on an important area of law, by one of the most interesting new voices in legal theory.”

The book will be launched at event organised jointly by the Oxford Jurisprudence Discussion Group, the Oxford Human Rights Hub, and Rhodes House from 5pm on the 29 May 2015, at Rhodes House. RSVP oxfordjdg@gmail.com

Published by Oxford University Press, the book will be available in hardback for £60 from 14 May 2015.

Tarunabh Khaitan

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