Is it legal to stereotype someone? (It happens every day, actually)


Despite the difficulty of explaining it in a reasonable and effective manner, the presence of stereotypes in the application of the law is a concrete and daily experience.

To verify this, ask a criminal, in any country, if the law is properly enforced without stereotypes. Their answer would certainly not be, for they know how fine the line is between guilty and innocent.

Let us take up this question again. Its object is the presence of stereotypes in the application of the law and not their presence in the law itself. While the answer to the first question may be variable and dependent on the culture and legal system, the answer to the second question is fundamentally common in its equivalent sense.

Thus, stereotypes in the application of the law are frequent and many examples can demonstrate this.

Take, for example, criminal law. Compelled by the need to suppress violence and rule on hard-to-prove factual consequences, lawmakers around the world can differentiate sanctions based on the quality of the person committing the crime or the location of the crime.

Usually, in the field of criminal law, the penalties are made more severe by the law itself, though many criminal acts are committed by certain members of society, who, according to the legislator, are considered more inclined to commit them because of of their peculiarities. . In these cases, presumptions are based on stereotypes, even if the presumptions are inconclusive.

Then there is litigation. In legal systems where the principle of orality is fundamental in the process, a particular behavior before the Court could be relevant for the imposition of one or the other sanction. Even in civil law, where the litigation usually has a documentary basis and can be resolved by it, stereotypes can have an impact.

Mediation or negotiation are examples, because the judge or the other party is called upon to assess the level of acceptance of a proposal; there is a natural and indirect use of stereotypes which can affect the decision in the judge’s assessment.

Stereotypes can also interfere with artificial intelligence law. All over the world, and particularly in China, artificial intelligence is a new and powerful tool, serving many sectors, such as machinery, technology and, last but not least, law.

In this regard, artificial intelligence has been used to verify violations of the law, such as traffic violations.

However, given that artificial intelligence, conceived as machine learning, is ‘bio-inspired’ and ‘bio-oriented’, as in all facets of life, it could be influenced by stereotypes, as The algorithm is programmed by the human mind. .

Therefore, it is obvious that the risks of prejudice due to stereotypes can always be a threat to the correct application of the law. One possible solution in order to limit stereotypes in such cases is to look to other legal systems (the so-called “comparative analysis”) in order to verify that a particular clause is not the result of a distortion. reality or a restrictive vision of public order, but rather that of a shared, strictly logical decision.

All things considered, we will come to the conclusion that, perhaps, a small component of stereotypes in law is not eliminable at all, for they are part of human nature and the law is nothing more than a fact reflecting the strengths and weaknesses of human nature.

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