TRINPsite 54.33.4 - 55.27.2  
===============  MNI/BoF/1/1/7.HTM 



The focus of relevancy is getting and keeping as many clients as possible. We will accept this determinant as it is, for it is only relevance and inclusivity which interest us at this place. (As an ultimate value we would definitely condemn such a determinant.) The factor of distinction is the appearance of the workers who have to personally deal with those clients. We assume that in a strict sense all people considered are or would be doing their work equally well, whatever they are wearing or not wearing, so long as they have the job. It is essential to this example that the quality of work is defined in terms independent of the number of customers that actually are attracted or will be attracted. We also assume that a number of clients will not do business with the firm in question if the workers of this firm they have to deal with, dress or adorn themselves in a way these clients find objectionable for reasons which are false or irrelevant to the quality of the service rendered to these clients. (Also this requirement is inherent in this kind of example. The fact that the client dislikes the clothes or adornments is by itself no sufficient reason not to do business with the persons, the men or the women concerned. For the sake of argument, the falsity or irrelevance of the client`s reasons must be recognized by the manager at least vis-à-vis `er own workers.)

The question is now whether the employer can morally --so far as the relevance principle is concerned-- require a worker, a female worker or a male worker to dress or adorn `imself so that no customer will stay away (granting that there is such a fashion). The manager might give the following justification for not employing a person of 'undesirable' appearance: (a1) the object of business is to make money and to get as many clients as possible --note that if this were really the only objective, `e would have to do business with any customer, also a fascist regime, for instance--; (a2) the worker`s appearance repels clients or potential clients; (a3) hence, appearance is relevant in respect of the person`s position in the firm, and firing or not hiring a person with an appearance which keeps clients away is not to be denounced as discrimination. (b) If there are also people who would not like to deal with members of, for example, racial or ethnic minorities (easily recognizable by their skin color, accent, and so on), this is a different case --the manager might argue-- because people cannot alter their color or other ethnic characteristics, whereas they should be able to dress or adorn themselves in an adequate way, that is, a way all clients find 'normal' for human beings, or for men or for women. (c) To hire or refuse to hire somebody on the grounds of `er race, ethnicity or sex is illegal --the employer might finally argue-- but to do this on the basis of somebody`s personal appearance is not.

From the standpoint of the universal version of the relevance principle the employer`s 'relevance' is circular because: (a) --given our basic assumptions-- the customers stay away for false or irrelevant reasons. These 'reasons', or rather the attitudes underlying them, are themselves morally objectionable. The relevance with respect to the focus therefore depends on external nonrelevance (or nonrelevance and/or falsity). (b) The workers may be able to adjust their personal appearance (whereas nobody can sufficiently change, say, `er skin color or female gender) but this 'freedom' is not to the point, as the question is precisely whether the worker should do so from a normative point of view. (Negative) freedom is then already presupposed, that is, both the freedom of the worker to dress and adorn in widely divergent ways, and the freedom of the company (private or governmental) to discriminate or not to discriminate on the basis of appearance, ethnicity, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, political or denominational ideology adhered to, or what have you. Such 'freedom' merely refers to an absence of practical constraints, not to any normative justification (or it must be on the grounds of some principle of liberty). And, it has to be stressed again that the question of whether an action is right or wrong should not be confused with the question of whether it should be forbidden or not. (c) While freedom to change is not an argument for or against, the legality of an action is in itself not an argument for or against its being normatively justifiable either. (Something is not immoral because the law disallows it, nor is something moral because the law does not disallow it.) If clients have prejudices concerning personal appearance as they have prejudices concerning race and sex, it is not any better to base a judgment of relevance on the occurrence of the former prejudices than to base it on the latter, altho the former thing may be legal and the latter not.

As the causal connection between the worker`s personal appearance and the number of customers attracted depends on a case of external nonrelevance, the employer may, according to the universal version of the relevance principle, not require `er employees to change their appearance just to make sure that no (biased) customer will be repelled by this appearance. This conclusion holds when the argument is taken at face value. However, if the very existence or continuation of the firm or job itself is at stake, the worker`s appearance does matter in a different way. Under this condition, the company at issue would have to keep or hire a person for a job which would be lost if `e were indeed kept there or hired for this job. Not being able, then, to do `er work well in the strict sense (because not at all) in the near future, even the worker `imself could recognize this as a reason not to keep or employ `im. The relevant factor is, then, not personal appearance, but the quality of work to be done and remaining to be done in the strict sense.

The implications of this proviso are not necessarily as far-reaching as one might suspect. Firstly, it must be a particular job which will be lost if a particular person of 'unwanted' appearance stays with this firm or is put on this job. If only the total number of jobs of the same kind would diminish, the work left could still be done just as well by people of the (formerly) disputed appearance. Secondly, a general decrease in employment and business will only result if the client does not go to anyone else to get the service `e wants. It will not result if the client is going to get it anyhow. Sure, no business person would like to see `er clients go to a competitor (but a business person endorsing the relevance principle would like to see `er discriminating clients go elsewhere). This presupposes, however, that the client can go to a firm which complies with `er every wish, however discriminatory. And this presupposes that there is such a firm which can do that legally and/or without being controlled morally by the rest of the community. Thirdly, the question is not really whether one or more jobs would be lost if a company were to employ bodies of 'unwanted' appearance, but rather whether more jobs would be lost than if the company refused to employ people discriminated against by a certain category of clients or potential clients. The number of clients lost would only be more in the former case, if the number of (potential) clients who stay away if the firm gives in to people who discriminate against some of its workers, were less. Hence, the proviso will or will not have far-reaching implications dependent on the situation. All those endorsing the relevance principle can try to make sure that the conditions of the proviso clearly do not hold. Their moral strategy should be to make it as difficult as possible for discriminating clients to go to a different firm. Furthermore, they themselves would not deal with firms giving in to that sort of customers.

When looking at this matter it is absolutely necessary to keep sight of the fact that the above example would remain of the same kind if people`s biases with respect to ethnicity, nationality or denominational convictions, for instance, were substituted for those with respect to dress and adornment. If someone would let business prevail over a conscientious interpretation of the universal version of the relevance principle in the latter case, `e had no reason not to let it prevail in the former case, judging from the normative standpoint. And when `er doxastic or purported 'relevance' does objectively speaking not hold, a distinction made by `im on the grounds of any of these factors is discriminatory. Thus, in the event that the client is a country which requires the employees of a company to belong to a monotheist religion, it is the task of all people espousing the universal version of the principle of discriminational relevance to ensure that the proviso does not hold, and that this distinction is not relevant for the company in question. This entails in the first place that they themselves refuse to deal with such a country and with people doing business with such a country under those conditions.


You shall know when an utterance is likely to be false,
and the presence of the truth shall bind everyone.
You shall know when a distinction is likely to be irrelevant,
and the absence of irrelevance shall free everyone.

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Model of Neutral-Inclusivity
Book of Fundamentals
The Norm of Inclusivity