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Debate: Affirmative action

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===Is Affirmative Action legislation in the United States a good idea? === ===Is Affirmative Action legislation in the United States a good idea? ===
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*[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirmative_action Wikipedia's Affirmative Action article] *[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirmative_action Wikipedia's Affirmative Action article]
*[http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/affirmative-action/ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy] *[http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/affirmative-action/ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]
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-===The value of diversity: Is diversity in all areas of society a highly valuable social good? ===+===Compensating past wrongs: Is Affirmative Action justified as compensation for past wrongs to a group?===
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====Yes==== ====Yes====
- +*[[Argument:Affirmative action brings justice by compensating groups for past wrongs| Affirmative action brings justice by compensating groups for past wrongs]] It is important for injustices to be redressed. Slavery and institutionalized racism have not been redressed yet in America. In order for justice to be served, it is necessary for the main losers of racism in America (blacks) to be compensated for their loses. It is also appropriate that whites assume some burdens in enabling the redress of blacks, as they were the main perpetrators of the crime of slavery. Affirmative action achieves this all, sufficiently compensating blacks for past wrongs, achieving redress, and restoring justice.
-*[[Argument:Greater ethnic or gender representation at all class levels is socially important| Greater ethnic or gender representation at all class levels is socially important]]. Establishing the importance of proportional diversity in all levels of society is essential to justifying Affirmative Action, as Affirmative Action is only a means to this end. This argument includes that Affirmative Action is essential to a healthy, fully informed civil society as well as to the creation of a truly representative leadership that understands and upholds the diverse interests of the "common good".+
-*[[Argument:Affirmative Action helps create an important, diverse learning environment| Affirmative Action helps create an important, diverse learning environment]]. A diverse educational environment produces major benefits for students and society.+
-**It creates an environment for understanding the full range of perspectives, life-styles, and social circumstances in a society.+
-**Understanding different perspectives reduces the potential for misunderstanding, racism, and conflict among groups.+
-**It provides our future leaders the above lessons, enabling them to better represent the common interest.+
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====No==== ====No====
 +*[[Argument:Affirmative action fails to compensate for past wrongs by affecting the wrong groups| Affirmative action fails to compensate for past wrongs by affecting the wrong groups]]
-*[[Argument:Minority schools are not diverse, and yet provide an important learning environment| Minority schools are not diverse, and yet provide an important learning environment]] In order for a diverse learning environment to be seen as important or necessary, minority schools (homogeneous) must be demonstrated as a bad idea. Yet, they are a good idea.+*[[Argument:Affirmative action fails to achieve justice as it sacrifices the rights of one group to attempt to bring justice to another| Affirmative action fails to achieve justice as it sacrifices the rights of one group to attempt to bring justice to another]]
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-*[[Argument:Diverse schools actually receive poor ratings from the students themselves| Diverse schools actually receive poor ratings from the students themselves]] - This position was given particular credence following a major study in 2002: [http://www.nas.org/reports/sup_ct_mich/rothman_et_al.pdf "Diversity and Affirmative Action: The State of Campus Opinion". Stanley Rothman, S. M. Lipset, and Neil Nevitte. 2002].+
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 +*[[Argument:Many groups that have been victims of institutional racism are actually harmed by affirmative action instead of compensated| Many groups that have been victims of institutional racism are actually harmed by affirmative action instead of compensated]]
 +*[[Argument:An ethnic group today should not be blamed and held accountable for the wrongs of their ancestors| An ethnic group today should not be blamed and held accountable for the wrongs of their ancestors]]
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-===Compensating past wrongs: Is Affirmative Action justified as compensation for past wrongs to a group?===+===The value of diversity: Is diversity in all areas of society a highly valuable social good? ===
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====Yes==== ====Yes====
-*[[Argument:Affirmative action brings justice by compensating groups for past wrongs| Affirmative action brings justice by compensating groups for past wrongs]] It is important for injustices to be redressed. Slavery and institutionalized racism have not been redressed yet in America. In order for justice to be served, it is necessary for the main losers of racism in America (blacks) to be compensated for their loses. It is also appropriate that whites assume some burdens in enabling the redress of blacks, as they were the main perpetrators of the crime of slavery. Affirmative action achieves this all, sufficiently compensating blacks for past wrongs, achieving redress, and restoring justice.  
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 +*[[Argument:Greater ethnic or gender representation at all class levels is socially important| Greater ethnic or gender representation at all class levels is socially important]]. Establishing the importance of proportional diversity in all levels of society is essential to justifying Affirmative Action, as Affirmative Action is only a means to this end. This argument includes that Affirmative Action is essential to a healthy, fully informed civil society as well as to the creation of a truly representative leadership that understands and upholds the diverse interests of the "common good".
 +*[[Argument:Affirmative Action helps create an important, diverse learning environment| Affirmative Action helps create an important, diverse learning environment]]. A diverse educational environment produces major benefits for students and society.
 +**It creates an environment for understanding the full range of perspectives, life-styles, and social circumstances in a society.
 +**Understanding different perspectives reduces the potential for misunderstanding, racism, and conflict among groups.
 +**It provides our future leaders the above lessons, enabling them to better represent the common interest.
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====No==== ====No====
-*[[Argument:Affirmative action fails to compensate for past wrongs by affecting the wrong groups| Affirmative action fails to compensate for past wrongs by affecting the wrong groups]] 
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-*[[Argument:Affirmative action fails to achieve justice as it sacrifices the rights of one group to attempt to bring justice to another| Affirmative action fails to achieve justice as it sacrifices the rights of one group to attempt to bring justice to another]] 
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-*[[Argument:Many groups that have been victims of institutional racism are actually harmed by affirmative action instead of compensated| Many groups that have been victims of institutional racism are actually harmed by affirmative action instead of compensated]] 
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-*[[Argument:An ethnic group today should not be blamed and held accountable for the wrongs of their ancestors| An ethnic group today should not be blamed and held accountable for the wrongs of their ancestors]] 
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 +*[[Argument:Minority schools are not diverse, and yet provide an important learning environment| Minority schools are not diverse, and yet provide an important learning environment]] In order for a diverse learning environment to be seen as important or necessary, minority schools (homogeneous) must be demonstrated as a bad idea. Yet, they are a good idea.
 +*[[Argument:Diverse schools actually receive poor ratings from the students themselves| Diverse schools actually receive poor ratings from the students themselves]] - This position was given particular credence following a major study in 2002: [http://www.nas.org/reports/sup_ct_mich/rothman_et_al.pdf "Diversity and Affirmative Action: The State of Campus Opinion". Stanley Rothman, S. M. Lipset, and Neil Nevitte. 2002].
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*[[Argument:Predominantly black schools don't offer as many AP classes, making it harder for blacks to get high grades]] An 'A" grade in an AP class is counted as a 4.5 by some universities, making it possible for a student who takes all AP classes and gets all A's to get a 4.5. Yet, predominantly black schools offer far fewer AP classes, making it harder for exceptional black students to compete against the grades that exceptional white and Asian students are able to muster. *[[Argument:Predominantly black schools don't offer as many AP classes, making it harder for blacks to get high grades]] An 'A" grade in an AP class is counted as a 4.5 by some universities, making it possible for a student who takes all AP classes and gets all A's to get a 4.5. Yet, predominantly black schools offer far fewer AP classes, making it harder for exceptional black students to compete against the grades that exceptional white and Asian students are able to muster.
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====No==== ====No====
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*'''Affirmative action lowers the perceived value of the certificates earned by blacks:''' Affirmative action creates the impression that black individuals required the help of affirmative action to gain placement in a top university. As such, employers and the world discount the value of a black individual earning a certain degree, relative to their pears earning the same degree. Clarence Thomas is famous for saying that his degree from Yale was worth only 15 cents due to the impression among employers that he received it only because he was black. *'''Affirmative action lowers the perceived value of the certificates earned by blacks:''' Affirmative action creates the impression that black individuals required the help of affirmative action to gain placement in a top university. As such, employers and the world discount the value of a black individual earning a certain degree, relative to their pears earning the same degree. Clarence Thomas is famous for saying that his degree from Yale was worth only 15 cents due to the impression among employers that he received it only because he was black.
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*[[Argument:Countering the argument that Affirmative Action unfairly damages poor and unprivileged white males| Countering the argument that Affirmative Action unfairly damages poor and unprivileged white males]] *[[Argument:Countering the argument that Affirmative Action unfairly damages poor and unprivileged white males| Countering the argument that Affirmative Action unfairly damages poor and unprivileged white males]]
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*'''The rights of one group should not be sacrificed to benefit the rights of another groups:''' The opponents argue, since all people have equal rights, no individual's rights should be sacrificed to compensate for another person's rights being taken away. *'''The rights of one group should not be sacrificed to benefit the rights of another groups:''' The opponents argue, since all people have equal rights, no individual's rights should be sacrificed to compensate for another person's rights being taken away.
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*[[Argument:Affirmative Action makes race only a small "plus" for certain candidates among a much larger array of competitive considerations| Affirmative Action makes race only a small "plus" for certain candidates among a much larger array of competitive considerations]] *[[Argument:Affirmative Action makes race only a small "plus" for certain candidates among a much larger array of competitive considerations| Affirmative Action makes race only a small "plus" for certain candidates among a much larger array of competitive considerations]]
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*'''Diversity at all levels of society is important for the dynamism and creativity underpinning an economy:''' *'''Diversity at all levels of society is important for the dynamism and creativity underpinning an economy:'''
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*[[Argument:Affirmative action may damage the ethos of those that are more qualified, yet lose out to affirmative action candidates| Affirmative action may damage the ethos of those that are more qualified, yet lose out to affirmative action candidates]] *[[Argument:Affirmative action may damage the ethos of those that are more qualified, yet lose out to affirmative action candidates| Affirmative action may damage the ethos of those that are more qualified, yet lose out to affirmative action candidates]]
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*[[Argument:Affirmative Action uses a definition of "diversity" that is too narrow| Affirmative Action uses a definition of "diversity" that is too narrow]] *[[Argument:Affirmative Action uses a definition of "diversity" that is too narrow| Affirmative Action uses a definition of "diversity" that is too narrow]]
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====Yes==== ====Yes====
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'''The text of the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1964 Civil Rights Act of 1964] advocates a "race-blind" approach:''' Title VI of the Act promised that "[n]o person…shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." While it makes a couple of exceptions for employer preferences on the basis of gender, religion, and national origin, it makes not exception for race in regard to the law being "color-blind". '''The text of the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1964 Civil Rights Act of 1964] advocates a "race-blind" approach:''' Title VI of the Act promised that "[n]o person…shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." While it makes a couple of exceptions for employer preferences on the basis of gender, religion, and national origin, it makes not exception for race in regard to the law being "color-blind".
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*[http://www.democrats.org/ Democratic Party] *[http://www.democrats.org/ Democratic Party]
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*[http://www.rnc.org Republican Party] *[http://www.rnc.org Republican Party]
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====Yes==== ====Yes====
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*[[Position:California has been trending away from Affirmative Action since the early 1990s]] *[[Position:California has been trending away from Affirmative Action since the early 1990s]]
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*[Thomas Nagel's “Equal Treatment and Compensatory Justice”. Philosophy & Public Affairs. 1973] *[Thomas Nagel's “Equal Treatment and Compensatory Justice”. Philosophy & Public Affairs. 1973]
*[Judith Jarvis Thomson's "Preferential Hiring". 1973] *[Judith Jarvis Thomson's "Preferential Hiring". 1973]
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*[[Position:Ward Connerly of the American Civil Rights Institute opposes affirmative action]] *[[Position:Ward Connerly of the American Civil Rights Institute opposes affirmative action]]
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====Yes==== ====Yes====
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*[[Position:Clarence Thomas, US Supreme Court Justice, advocates "color-blind" policies| Clarence Thomas, US Supreme Court Justice, advocates "color-blind" policies]]: *[[Position:Clarence Thomas, US Supreme Court Justice, advocates "color-blind" policies| Clarence Thomas, US Supreme Court Justice, advocates "color-blind" policies]]:
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====Yes==== ====Yes====
 +*[http://www.acrc.org American Civil Rights Coalition]
*[http://aad.english.ucsb.edu/ Affirmative Action and Diversity Project] *[http://aad.english.ucsb.edu/ Affirmative Action and Diversity Project]
 +*[http://www.now.org/ National Organization for Women]
*[http://www.affirmativeaction.org/ American Association for Affirmative Action] *[http://www.affirmativeaction.org/ American Association for Affirmative Action]
*[[Position:The Urban League supports Affirmative Action]] *[[Position:The Urban League supports Affirmative Action]]
-*Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action[http://www.bamn.com/] 
-*Leadership Conference on Civil Rights [http://www.civilrights.org/issues/affirmative/] 
-*National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education[http://www.nafeo.org/] 
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====No==== ====No====
-*Americans Against Discrimination and Preferences[http://www.rightonrace.org/ExpressionEnginePB2/index.php]+*[http://www.rightonrace.org/ExpressionEnginePB2/index.php Americans Against Discrimination and Preferences]
-*[http://www.acri.org/ American Civil Rights Institute]+
-*[http://www.ceousa.org/ Center for Equal Opportunity]+
-*[http://www.cir-usa.org/ Center for Individual Rights]+
-*[http://www.state.fl.us/eog/one_florida/ One Florida Initiative]+
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*[[Position:Countries supporting affirmative action]] *[[Position:Countries supporting affirmative action]]
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-*[[Slovakia]]. The Constitutional Court declared in October 2005 that affirmative action i.e. "providing advantages for people of an ethnic or racial minority group" as being against its Constitution. [http://euobserver.com/9/20123] 
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===References:=== ===References:===
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Revision as of 14:09, 17 November 2007

Is Affirmative Action legislation in the United States a good idea?

Contents

Background and Context of Debate:

"Affirmative action" involves steps being taken to increase the representation of women and minorities in areas of employment, education, and business from which they have been historically excluded.

In the United States, the first period of passionate debate on this issue began around 1972 and tapered off after 1980. The second period began in the 1990s leading up to the Supreme Court's decision in the summer of 2003 upholding certain kinds of affirmative action.

In depth background resources include:


Compensating past wrongs: Is Affirmative Action justified as compensation for past wrongs to a group?

Yes

  • Affirmative action brings justice by compensating groups for past wrongs It is important for injustices to be redressed. Slavery and institutionalized racism have not been redressed yet in America. In order for justice to be served, it is necessary for the main losers of racism in America (blacks) to be compensated for their loses. It is also appropriate that whites assume some burdens in enabling the redress of blacks, as they were the main perpetrators of the crime of slavery. Affirmative action achieves this all, sufficiently compensating blacks for past wrongs, achieving redress, and restoring justice.



No


The value of diversity: Is diversity in all areas of society a highly valuable social good?

Yes

  • Greater ethnic or gender representation at all class levels is socially important. Establishing the importance of proportional diversity in all levels of society is essential to justifying Affirmative Action, as Affirmative Action is only a means to this end. This argument includes that Affirmative Action is essential to a healthy, fully informed civil society as well as to the creation of a truly representative leadership that understands and upholds the diverse interests of the "common good".
  • Affirmative Action helps create an important, diverse learning environment. A diverse educational environment produces major benefits for students and society.
    • It creates an environment for understanding the full range of perspectives, life-styles, and social circumstances in a society.
    • Understanding different perspectives reduces the potential for misunderstanding, racism, and conflict among groups.
    • It provides our future leaders the above lessons, enabling them to better represent the common interest.

No

Fostering equality: Is Affirmative Action the best way to actually achieve a more integrated and equal society?

Yes

  • Affirmative action is the only way to level the playing field and change a perpetual legacy of disadvantage: If past wrongs have a legacy that live on today in the form of continued disadvantages and subtle forms of exclusion, then the past wrongs continue, albeit less overtly, today. Some of these more subtle forms of exclusion included:
    • Past historical discrimination severely limited access to educational opportunities and job experiences.
    • Ostensible measures of "merit" may well be biased toward the same groups who are already empowered.
    • Regardless of overt principles, people in positions of power are likely to hire people they already know or people from similar backgrounds, or both.

No

  • The laws should be "race-blind" to counter all forms of discrimination: Affirmative action promotes prejudice by increasing the resentment of those who are the beneficiaries of affirmative action from those who have been adversely affected by the policy. Therefore, it simply shifts the prejudice from one group to another, which does not resolve the problem of racism.
  • Argument:Affirmative Action is wrong to consider race instead of economic or educational disadvantages Economic or educational disadvantages do not necessarily correlate to those of a particular racial/ethnic status. There are many examples of wealthy well educated black youths that have experienced every society advantage there is. There are also examples of white youths that have lived in economic and educational squaller. If it is economic and educational disadvantages that are the problem, why not focus in affirmative action on these criteria instead of race and ethnicity.
  • Affirmative action lowers the perceived value of the certificates earned by blacks: Affirmative action creates the impression that black individuals required the help of affirmative action to gain placement in a top university. As such, employers and the world discount the value of a black individual earning a certain degree, relative to their pears earning the same degree. Clarence Thomas is famous for saying that his degree from Yale was worth only 15 cents due to the impression among employers that he received it only because he was black.

Burdening a class: Is it ok to burden one class of citizens through Affirmative Action for the purpose of a social good such as equality?

Yes

No

  • The rights of one group should not be sacrificed to benefit the rights of another groups: The opponents argue, since all people have equal rights, no individual's rights should be sacrificed to compensate for another person's rights being taken away.


Meritocracy: Is it OK that Affirmative Action runs contrary to the notion of meritocracy, or does it actually do this?

Yes

No

Economics: Is Affirmative Action important economically?

Yes

  • Diversity at all levels of society is important for the dynamism and creativity underpinning an economy:

No

  • Affirmative action results in less qualified and effective candidates filling positions, resulting in lower economic productivity for companies and a nation:


Defining diversity: Should schools and organizations be able to focus in on specific criteria of diversity such as race?

Yes

No

US Law: Does US law provide for Affirmative Action?

Yes

No

The text of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 advocates a "race-blind" approach: Title VI of the Act promised that "[n]o person…shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." While it makes a couple of exceptions for employer preferences on the basis of gender, religion, and national origin, it makes not exception for race in regard to the law being "color-blind".

US political parties: Where do the US political parties generally stand on this issue?

Yes

No

States: Where do the US States stand on the issue?

Yes

No

Players and academics: Where do the relevant players and academics stand?

Yes

  • [Thomas Nagel's “Equal Treatment and Compensatory Justice”. Philosophy & Public Affairs. 1973]
  • [Judith Jarvis Thomson's "Preferential Hiring". 1973]

No

US supreme court justices supporting affirmative action?

Yes

No

Activist organizations: What are the main activist organizations in this debate?

Yes

No

Countries: Where do countries internationally stand?

Yes

No

References:

Related pages on Debatepedia:

External links and resources:


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