nonbiologist wrote:thought experiment concerning utilitarianism:
there is a population of racist whites with a minority of blacks. The blacks are forced to attend their own schools that have lower educational standards. There is a liberation movement to have the blacks in the same schools as whites, but doing this will cause the whites irrational fear/anxiety. An individual whites suffering is not greater than the benefit brought to an individual black, but since the whites are in the majority, added up, their suffering will be greater than the benefits brought to the blacks if the movement takes effect.
Do we accommodate the whites or blacks?
If the Whites were (hedonistic) utilitarians, they would feel connected to the happiness and suffering of the Black students so their being allowed a higher education or to attend the schools of their choice would cause the Whites sympathetic happiness that I think would override their xenophobia (that could be reduced through other means as well). If they still preferred to attend an all White school, one option could be to improve the standard of education for the Black schools.
It is hard to resist moral dumbfounding––i.e., an ad-hoc utilitarian reason why our intuitions are right––for your thought experiment. (Not that the responses thus far have been ad hoc.) That said, racism almost always leads to negative utility in the long run, whatever the short-term benefits. So, yes, you should integrate for utilitarian reasons; in the long term, it will lower the level of racism of the country, as others have pointed out.
I don't think hedonistic utilitarians should use ad hoc reasoning to justify intuitions that involve a concern for anything other than pleasure and pain and avoiding this isn't hard for me to do (not that I'm a 'practicing' utilitarian, and I might think of something that contradicts this later or come to feel differently, but I think my intuitions basically match up with my meta-ethical beliefs). If by 'racism' you mean not caring about the well-being of racial out group members, I don't think it should ever be catered to or tolerated. Racial prejudice should also be discouraged, if for no other reason than for the benefit of prejudiced people, but evidence shows that ethnically homogenous environments tend to have less conflict, less crime and more altruism, ethnic differences can exacerbate tension even when it isn't an explicit issue and participants aren't 'consciously' prejudiced and people from ethnically homogenous societies actually self-report higher levels of happiness, I don't know how much of this can be changed how much is due to biology. I wouldn't necessarily see a problem with voluntary racial separatism.
To me, since the suffering of the whites is based on xenophobia vs liberty/freedom/fairness, i side with the boy. So for this circumstance, i would not follow utilitarianism.
I think all pleasure and pain is unconditionally worth sympathizing with but a utilitarian should always discourage character traits or desires that stem from someone's not identifying with and caring about the pleasure and pain of any other being. I would argue for the boy being allowed to sing only if either a) there isn't some alternative to make everyone happy (like reducing their xenophobia some other way) or b) if their xenophobia stems from or is sustained by their not caring about his well-being.
Thus discrimination is not intrinsically evil, but rather evil when it has negative consequences.
I agree if by 'discrimination' you mean unequal treatment and not unequal consideration.