Judgments that are
not held on rational grounds and are used to infer or justify conclusions.
Evidently, there are prejudices and humans have and have
had very many prejudices - and evidently one problem with the term
"prejudice" is that humans are quick to accuse ideological opponents
that their views rest on prejudice.
The logical grounds to maintain that a
certain belief is a prejudice are:
(1) Important ground: It is used to justify other beliefs the
believer in the prejudice has and believes important.
(2) Not provably true: There is no logical proof from true
premisses that it is true.
(3) Insufficient rational evidence: There is not sufficient
evidence for it to support it.
(4) Based on biased and sealed off evidence: The
believers in the prejudice is biased and sealed off from conflicting
First, let's consider these in turn:
Important ground: Beliefs that
are used to infer beliefs that are not held important may have little
rational evidence, but are not
prejudices, and indeed are much easier given up by those who maintain
them, precisely because they are not deemed important to their central
Not provably true:
Beliefs that are provably true, such as the truths of
mathematics, are not prejudices - only beliefs that are not provably
true may be prejudices.
evidence: Evidence is rational if it is not based on prejudice and
there is good support for it. Prejudices are based on evidence that is
not rational or on evidence that has no good support, and in both cases
often involves a considerable amount of
Based on biased and sealed off
evidence: True believers in prejudices base their belief in it on
biased, partial, slanted evidence, on
wishful thinking or on belief
in authorities and
leaders, and seal off their evidence normally by
refusing to seriously investigate contrary evidence, on the grounds that
they already know the truth, namely their prejudice.
In short: The main reasons to characterize a belief as a prejudice
involve the manner in which it is held and the grounds on which it are
Next, it is well to notice that prejudices are very hard to avoid,
and indeed children and young people can hardly do without them, and
tend to be offered a lot of them by family and friends, often in good
faith i.e. because the others sincerely have these prejudices
themselves, and believe them important and true.
Also, there are rational prejudices: Beliefs one has for which one
has insufficient evidence oneself, but for which others have the
necessary evidence. Thus, most people go to medical doctors based on the
belief that they are in a better position to explain what ails the
patient medically than people who are not medically qualified. Most
laymen who use the services of medical doctors do so because of
prejudice, that is fairly called rational when compared to the
prejudices of those who refuse to visit medical doctors for their
ailments, but go to "alternative healers".