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Debate: Affirmative action

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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.
- +In a school application, shouldn't the person who is most qualified get accepted? In a lot of cases qualified students aren't being accepted to make room for a minority student even though they may be more qualified.
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Revision as of 19:58, 6 December 2008

Is affirmative action good public policy?

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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. When those steps involve preferential selection—selection on the basis of race, gender, or ethnicity—affirmative action generates intense controversy.

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:


Compensation: Is Affirmative Action just 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 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.


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

Equality: Is Affirmative Action a good way to enhance social equality/integration?

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.

Burdens: Is it OK to burden some citizens with Affirmative Action?

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.

In a school application, shouldn't the person who is most qualified get accepted? In a lot of cases qualified students aren't being accepted to make room for a minority student even though they may be more qualified.

Meritocracy: Is it OK that Affirmative Action contradicts notions of meritocracy?

Yes

No

Economics: Is Affirmative Action important economically?

Yes

  • Diversity is important to a dynamic economy.


No

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


Race focus: Is it appropriate to focus on achieving racial diversity?

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]
  • Ron Daniels, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights




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

  • 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. [2]


Videos pro and con.

Yes

No

  • "Affirmative Action: Separate But Equal". (Michigan University). Posted on YouTube May 21, 2007.[3]



References:

Related pages on Debatepedia:

External links and resources:

Videos

"Ward Connerly on Fox News School Segregation". Posted on YouTube on July 5, 2007.[4]


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