Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 945–961 | Cite as

Race, Romantic Attraction, and Dating

  • Megan MitchellEmail author
  • Mark Wells


Here are two widely held positions on the ethics of dating: First, people are generally morally justified in excluding people they don’t find attractive from their dating pool. Second, people are not justified in maintaining a dating pool that is racially exclusive, even on grounds like attraction. In this paper, we demonstrate how these positions are consistent. To do so we differentiate our attitudes in dating and our dating behavior. Then we show how existing criticisms of racialized attitudes in dating are incomplete as practical criticisms of our behavior. Finally, we give our account of the moral reasons whites have to change their dating preferences when they exclude people of color. In doing so, we supplement existing discussions of race-based discrimination in dating.


Race Dating Romantic preferences Applied ethics Social meaning Discrimination 



We thank Finnur Dellsén for helpful conversation at this paper’s conception, Lee McBride for his detailed comments on an early draft, Rafeeq Hasan for his detailed comments on a later draft, and two anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Duffy Academic Center 248Stonehill CollegeEastonUSA
  2. 2.Northeastern UniversityBostonUSA

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