Arguing Affirmative Action: Lesson 1

Arguing Affirmative Action

“In order to achieve this goal [having minorities reach at least 15 percent of the class], the university set lower admissions standards for minority applicants than for nonminority applicants” (168).

?True or False. Most of the minority students who were admitted due to affirmative action ended up graduating from law school and passing the bar exam|true

“The question for the courts is whether affirmative action hiring and admission policies violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of the equal protection of the laws”(168).

?What is the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee?|equal protection of the laws

?The law being set aside, what is the moral question?|Is it unjust to consider race and ethnicity as factors in hiring or university admissions?

“To answer this question, let’s consider three reasons that proponents of affirmative action offer for taking race and ethnicity into account: correcting for bias in standardized tests, compensating for past wrongs, and promoting diversity” (169).

?What are the three reasons that proponents of affirmative action offer?|correcting for bias in standardized tests, compensating for past wrongs, and promoting diversity.

Correcting for the Testing Gap

?True or False. Martin Luther King Jr. scored below average on a verbal aptitude test|True

“Whatever the cause of the testing gap, using standardized tests to predict academic success requires interpreting the scores in light of student’s family, social, cultural, and educational backgrounds”(169).

?What knowledge of the student is required in addition to the actual test score?|the student’s social, cultural and educational background

?True or False. A score of 700 in the backwaters of Mississippi is worth more than a score of 700 from an elite east coast private school|True

“But assessing test scores in light of student’s racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds does not challenge the notion that colleges and universities should admit those students with the greatest academic promise; it is simply an attempt to find the most accurate measure of each individual’s academic promise” (169).

“The real affirmative action debate is about two other rationales – the compensatory argument and the diversity argument” (170).

Compensating for Past Wrongs

?The compensatory argument views affirmative action as ______________|a remedy for past wrongs

“This argument compensating for past wrongs treats admission primarily as a benefit to the recipient and seeks to distribute the benefit in a way that compensates for past injustices and its lingering effects”(170).

?The compensatory argument runs into a tough challenge: critics point out that those who benefit are not necessarily those who have __________ , and those who pay the compensation are seldom those ___________ for the wrongs being ___________|suffered, responsible, rectified

?If the point is to help the disadvantaged, critics argue, affirmative action should be based on _________, not _________|class, race

?Did Hopwood play a role in perpetrating injustice?|no

?Whether or not Hopwood played a role in perpetrating injustice depends on what?|collective responsibility

?Can we ever have a moral responsibility to __________ by a previous generation|redress wrongs committed

“Do we incur obligations only as individuals, or do some obligations claim us as members of communities with historic identities? Since we will come to this question later in the book, let’s set it aside for the moment and turn to the diversity argument” (171).

Promoting Diversity

?The diversity argument for affirmative action does not depend on controversial notions of ________________|collective responsibility

“Nor does it depend on showing that the minority student given preference in admission has personally suffered discrimination or disadvantage. It treats admission less as a reward to the recipient than as a means of advancing a socially worthy aim” (171).

?Does the rationale of promoting diversity care if the minority student has personally suffered discrimination or disadvantage?|no

?The diversity rationale is an argument in the name of the common good. The common good of what 2 things?|the school itself and also of the wider society

?Again, the common good of what 2 things?|the school itself and also of the wider society

?Why is it good to promote diversity in the school itself?|enables students to learn more from one another than they would if all of them came from similar backgrounds

?What 2 perspectives would be limited if the student body was homogenous?|intellectual and cultural

?Why is it good to promote diversity in wider society?|equipping disadvantaged minorities to assume positions of leadership in key public and professional roles advances the university’s civic purpose and contributes to the common good

“The diversity argument is the one most frequently advanced by colleges and universities. When faced with Hopwood’s challenge, the dean of the University of Texas Law School cited the civic purpose served by his school’s affirmative action policy” (171).

?What argument is the most frequently advanced by colleges and universities?|diversity argument

“Part of the law school’s mission was to help increase the diversity of the Texas legal profession and to enable African Americans and Hispanics to assume leadership roles in government and law” (171).

“Critics of the diversity argument offer two kinds of objection – one practical, the other principled. The practical objection questions the effectiveness of affirmative action polices” (172).

?Critics of the diversity argument offer two kinds of objection. What kinds are they?|practical and principled kinds

“The practical objection does not claim that affirmative action is unjust, but rather it is unlikely to achieve its aims, and do more harm than good” (173).

Do Racial Preferences Violate Rights?

“The principled objection claims that, however worthy the goal of a more diverse classroom or a more equal society, and however successful affirmative action polices may be in achieving it, using race or ethnicity as a factor in admissions is unfair. The reason: doing so violates the rights of applicants such as Cheryl Hopwood, who, through no fault of their own, are put at a competitive disadvantage” (173).

?True or False, People who are put at a competitive disadvantage by the admissions board is a violation of one’s rights, according to the rights theorists who hold the principled objection|True

?Does a utilitarian care much about the principled objection?|no

“But many proponents of affirmative action are not utilitarians; they are Kantian or Rawlsian liberals who believe that even desirable ends must not override individual rights. For them, if using race as factors in admissions violates Hopwood’s rights, then doing so is unjust” (173).

?Kantian or Rawlsian liberals believe that desirable ends must not ________ individual rights|override

“Ronald Dworkin, a rights-oriented legal philosopher, addresses this objection by arguing that the use of race in affirmative action polices doesn’t violate anybody’s rights. What right, he asks, has Hopwood been denied? Perhaps she believes that people have a right not to be judged according to factors, such as race, that are beyond their control. But most traditional criteria for university admission involve factors beyond one’s control. It’s not my fault that I come from Massachusetts rather than Idaho, or that I’m a lousy football player, or that I can’t carry a tune. Nor is it my fault if I lack the aptitude to do well on the SAT” (173).

?Dworkin believes that Hopwood hasn’t been denied a right because admission factors deal with criteria that are beyond the applicant’s control all the time – factors such as geographical accident of birth or the ability to play football well. Is this true?|yes

“Perhaps the right at stake is the right to be considered according to academic criteria alone – not being good at football, or coming from Idaho, or having volunteered in a soup kitchen. On this view, if my grades, test scores, and other measures of academic promise land me in the top group of applicants, then I deserve to be admitted” (174).

?”I deserve, in other words, to be considered according to my ________ alone”(174).|academic merit

?Does Dworkin think there is such a right?|no

“Dworkin argues that no applicant has a right that the university define its mission and design its admissions policy in a way that prizes above all any particular set of qualities – whether academic skills, athletic abilities, or anything else. Once the university defines its mission and sets its admission standards, you have a legitimate expectation to admission insofar as you meet those standards better than other applicants” (174).

?According to Dworkin, a person with high academic skills has no right to demand that a university design it’s admission policy around academic skills alone. Is this true?|yes

“Those who finish in the top group of candidates – counting academic promise, ethnic and geographical diversity, athletic prowess, extracurricular activities, community service, and so on – are entitled to be admitted; it would be unfair to exclude them. But no one has a right to be considered according to any particular set of criteria in the first place” (174).

?Admission is not an ______ bestowed to reward superior ______ or ______|honor, merit, virtue

?Does a math genius morally deserve to be admitted?|no

?Does a person from an economic disadvantaged morally deserve to be admitted?|no

“Dworkin’s point is that justice in admissions is not a matter of rewarding merit or virtue; we can know what counts as a fair way of allocating seats in the freshman class only once the university defines its mission”(174).

?According to Dworkin, what two things isn’t justice in admissions rewarding?|merit and virtue

“The mission [purpose of a university] defines the relevant merits, not the other way around. Dworkin’s account of justice in university admissions runs parallel to Rawls’s account of justice in income distribution: It is not a matter of moral desert” (174).

?For Dworkin, an admission to university is not a matter of moral desert. True or False|True

Racial Segregation and Anti-Jewish Quotas

In the past, blacks and Jews were denied admission due in part to not meeting the mission criteria of a university.

“If, as the diversity rationale for affirmative action assumes, universities may set any admissions criteria that advance their mission as they define it, is it possible to condemn racist exclusion and anti-Semitic restrictions?” (176).

?Hopwood considered her rejection unfair, but she cannot claim that is expresses _____ or _______|hatred, contempt

?Can the blacks and Jews of the 1940s claim that their rejections expressed hatred and contempt?|yes

?What is the difference between segregation and affirmative action?|segregation depends on a race being superior or inferior. Affirmative action doesn’t depend on such a prejudice.

?To be precise, such a prejudice depends on what?|a race being inherently more worthy than another

?”Given the importance of promoting diversity in key professions, being black or Hispanic ‘may be a ________ trait”(176).|socially useful

“The law school is not saying that Hopwood is inferior or that the minority students admitted instead of her deserve an advantage that she does not. It is simply saying that racial and ethnic diversity in the classroom and the courtroom serves the law school’s educational purposes. And unless the pursuit of those purposes somehow violates the rights of those who lose out, disappointed applicants can’t legitimately claim that they’ve been treated unfairly” (177).

?What serves the law school’s educational purposes?|racial and ethnic diversity

?If a minority student is admitted in thanks to affirmative action, is the student more deserving of admission than Hopwood?|no

?Does it matter if the affirmative action-student deserves admission?|no

?Why, then, was the affirmative action-student admitted?|To serve the law school’s educational purpose

?What is the educational purpose for this law school in regards to admissions?|racial and ethnic diversity

In the next lesson will more examples of affirmative action. Additionally, there will be a question on whether or not justice can be detached from moral desert.

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