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Philip E. Tetlock

Philip E. Tetlock


Philip E. Tetlock

Philip E. Tetlock is a professor specializing in organizational behavior who is a member of the faculty at the University of California at Berkeley. In the legal field, Philip E. Tetlock is best known for his many papers co-written with Gregory Mitchell, a law professor who is a faculty member at the University of Virginia School of Law.


One of their most controversial and prominent papers is the 2006 article "Antidiscrimination Law And The Perils Of Mindreading," published in the "Ohio State Law Journal." The purpose of this article was to challenge some recent developments in the field of legal scholarship regarding the best methods of passing anti-discrimination laws and how to evaluate the role of prejudice and bias when considering legal situations. As part of their argument, Philip E. Tetlock and Gregory Mitchell concentrate specifically on the Implicit Association Test, a psychological test designed to measure associations with objects.


In their 2006 paper, Philip E. Tetlock and Gregory Mitchell argue that the Implicit Association Test is not a strong basis on which to base anti-discrimination law. Specifically, the authors allege that these types of tests do not demonstrate conclusive links between the responses chosen and the reasons for these responses. Philip E. Tetlock and Gregory Mitchell argue that, for example, test results and associations made on the basis of racist biases or prejudices can be indistinguishable from those made on an empathetic basis. Further, they argue that the value judgments made during these tests are not based on empirical scientific evidence, as claimed by scholars who wish to pass anti-discrimination laws which prescribe enhanced or different penalties and sentences for crimes committed on the basis of unconscious bias or prejudice.


The assertions made by Philip E. Tetlock and Gregory Mitchell in this paper were controversial, prompting a variety of papers which argued that their conclusions would make it impossible to punish even conscious prejudiced or biased acts. In 2009, Philip E. Tetlock and Gregory Mitchell published a follow-up defense of their work in the "Hofstra Law Journal." This paper was entitled "Facts Do Matter: A Reply To Bagenstos," and was specifically directed at a piece written by Samuel R. Bagenstos published in 2007. Bagenstos argued that the conclusions drawn by Philip E. Tetlock and Gregory Mitchell would make it difficult or impossible to consider how to approach prejudice and discrimination in society.


In their follow-up article, Philip E. Tetlock and Gregory Mitchell argued that they did not believe that acts of rational prejudice or discrimination should be ignored either in the drafting of laws or in their enforcement. However, Philip E. Tetlock and Gregory Mitchell went on to draw a distinction regarding the difference between social recognition of racist prejudices or biases and their legal recognition. Their paper cautions that while the legal recognition and punishment of such biases might necessarily have to be more limited than its social recognition, the evidence on this is not yet clear.