Book Launch: A Theory of Discrimination Law by Dr Tarunabh Khaitan

by | Mar 27, 2015

OxHRH, alongside Oxford Jurisprudence Discussion Group, is thrilled to launch OxHRH Associate Director Dr Tarunabh Khaitan’s book: A Theory of Discrimination Law.

Can there be a satisfying theory of the complex, and politically charged, body of laws that prohibit discrimination? In this perceptive book, Tarunabh Khaitan shows that there can. …. 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.

– Professor Leslie Green, University of Oxford

Discrimination law is controversial, and central to the political and cultural battles of our times. This book provides a theoretical defence of this area of law drawing on insights from five jurisdictions and debates in contemporary political philosophy. 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.

Having identified its identity and scope, the book asks what the point of discrimination law is. The second section of the book argues that it is to remove abiding, pervasive, and substantial relative group disadvantage. This purpose is best defended on (an appropriate conception of) liberty rather than equality.

The final 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.

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