Affirmative Action without Competition

American Journal of Political Science (forthcoming)
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Affirmative action is standardly pursued in relation to admissions to prestigious universities, in hiring for prestigious jobs, and when it comes to being elected to parliament. Central to these forms of affirmative action is that they have to do with competitive goods. A good is competitive when, if we improve A’s chances of getting the good, we reduce B’s chances of obtaining the good. I call this Competitive Affirmative Action. I distinguish this from Non-competitive Affirmative Action. The latter has to do with non-competitive goods, e.g., being granted early parole or freedom from arbitrary arrest. I argue that some of the most prominent objections against affirmative action—in particular, the reverse discrimination objection and the merit objection—speak less against Non-competitive Affirmative Action. And that some of the most prominent arguments in favor of affirmative action, insofar as they justify Competitive Affirmative Action, also justify Non-competitive Affirmative Action.

Author's Profile

Andreas Bengtson
Aarhus University


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