University of New Hampshire
Mentor: Dr. Charlotte Witt, Department of Philosophy/p>
This research will describe and attempt to offer a critique of the process of essentializing others. Essentializing begins by observing the traits of others and assuming some of those traits to represent something deeper about the individual. The traits that are believed to be representative of something further are understood through essentialist principles, and attributed essential qualities. These traits are viewed as crucial to the individual’s identity and explanatory of them in a way that allows for extrapolating additional, unproven information about the individual. Because it is assumed that these traits can provide such supplementary information, they are given undue weight in the overall understanding and estimation of a person. This excessive concentration on and potential overvaluation of select traits results in the reduction of the individual to said traits. This reduction can lead to certain moral harms, due to the issues inherent in possessing any limited view of others, and exacerbated by the extent of the limitation.