Scott Burris


Professor Burris argues that discrimination is not a single behavior explained by one grand theory, but rather a variegated phenomenon occurring in different social, historical and economic contexts. Each form of discrimination is illuminated by its own set of empirical data and each suggests different strategies for successful legal intervention. To illustrate this view, Professor Burris examines instances of dental discrimination against people with HIV. After reviewing empirical studies on dentists' attitudes and behaviors and the needs and experiences of patients with HIV, he concludes that many dentists are uncomfortable treating patients with HIV and many patients with HIV experience dental discrimination. He then analyzes the bases of these conclusions and considers potential regulatory responses to influence dentists' behavior, including federal disability discrimination law, professional ethics, the tort and professional licensure systems, health care financing regulations, and public health campaigns. Finally, he addresses critics of antidiscrimination laws, such as Richard Epstein, who view such laws as both wrong and ineffectual. Professor Burris argues that Epstein's theories of the market and discrimination are based on ideological premises and factual assumptions that are undermined when discrimination is examined in a particular context, such as the denial of dental care to people with HIV. He concludes that, although legal intervention is neither easy nor automatically successful, examining instances of discrimination on a case-by-case basis will help yield more effective and targeted antidiscrimination strategies

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