This paper analyses the ethics of organisations assessing applicants based on group risk statistics. For example, parole boards consider information predicting recidivism risk; insurance companies calculate the risk that an insured will make a claim; and employers want to minimise the chance of selecting lower-productivity employees. This paper explores organisational rejection of applicants from risky groups as a form of discrimination to help identify the distinct ethical implications for applicant autonomy from the use of group risk statistics. Contra Schoeman (1987) and Schauer (2003), this paper argues there is a substantive difference between assessing applicants directly through group statistics rather than including ‘individualised’ evidence. This difference impacts on the agency of applicants in the process. The paper concludes with recommendations for how to bolster applicant agency when using risk statistics to assess applicants.
Scholes, V. (2016). Risky business – the ethics of judging individuals based on group statistics. In M. Grix and T. Dare (Eds.), Contemporary Issues in Applied and Professional Ethics (pp. 169–188). Emerald. doi:10.1108/s1529-209620160000015010