Affirmative Action is not Morally Wrong

In Bob Fischer (ed.), Ethics Left and Right: The Moral Issues that Divide Us. Oxford University Press (2019)
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I will claim that the arguments against affirmative action rest on a false premise that is so pervasive it has even many supporters convinced. This is the idea that procedures for awarding jobs and college placements have an independent value and we should avoid rigging them to achieve particular outcomes. This is why many believe that instituting a quota system for college admissions should be avoided, because it unfairly tampers with the admissions procedures that ideally should be left alone. I argue to the contrary that this idea is a conceptual mistake. The outcomes of these procedures are not something we should judge separately from the procedures themselves. The college admissions or job search process cannot be considered fair unless their outcomes are also fair. Exposing this conceptual mistake reveals that affirmative action is by itself morally innocuous.

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Kristina Meshelski
California State University, Northridge


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