Affirmative Action Has Been a Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Furthermore, it is also believed that the evolution of American society is at a point where all forms of discrimination can be done away with. Dworkin therefore appears to advocate a simple acceptance of all affirmative action programs in terms of their original intention; to redress the collectivist wrongs perpetrated against a collective sector of society, by another collective. In this, those belonging to the historically repressive collective should, in the spirit of future equality and social collectivism, accept these attempts in this light.

One argument that Dworkin mentions is that those, like Hopwood and Bakke, who are disadvantaged tend not to feel overly positive regarding the collectivist future advantage of the country as a result of what they see as reverse discrimination. This creates bitterness and resentment, as mentioned in Yates. Such bitterness and resentment are hardly conducive to future unity in the country. In response to this argument, Dworkin holds that the reasons for affirmative action programs in different institutions and locations will differ accordingly. As such, these programs should be carefully considered not in terms of fashionability or even the law, but rather in terms of their practical applicability in terms of each institution's individual circumstances. As such, for example, Dworkin's model would approve of the University of Texas program, as it aims to create a representative student body for the ethnicity in the specific state involved. He would also cite as a case in point the many nonwhite students who make a success of the careers that they follow after their studies.

When presented with an argument for individualism and individual rights guaranteed by the Constitution, Dworkin contends that collectivist ideals are more relevant than individual ones. According to the author, prejudice and racism are wrong, but at the same time he claims that it is reasonable to institute affirmative action programs long after collective problems have made way for individual ones.

Once again returning to the case of Hopwood and the Texas University, Dworkin's claim is that programs such as the one under discussion promote racial consciousness. Although claiming his acceptance of individualism as relevant for today's society, Dworkin continues to speak of the social collective and what would ultimately benefit the collective rather than the individual. He does little to address the problem of resentment, which would create further divisions rather than promote a collective sense of humanity.

A further argument offered by Dworkin in his responses to affirmative action programs being racist and prejudicial is that black persons making a success of careers such as medicine and law provide valuable role models for the generations after them. This argument holds that there is still a disproportionate amount of white persons in such professions, and that this promotes the idea that these careers are indeed only available to white people. According to Dworkin, society "needs" more African-Americans and other races in these professions. The effect of this would be a collective acceptance of these professions also being open to nonwhites, who are equally able to perform the work as white people are. In short, what Dworkin appears to be saying is that racial quota and affirmative action programs will have the ultimate effect of racial acceptance, as both whites and nonwhites will accept as the norm an equal distribution of all ethnic representatives in all professions. In Dworkin's world, this is the ultimate outcome of the current collectivist affirmative action programs.

Dworkin further substantiates his point by using the medical profession as an example. Dworkin argues that black doctors will generally be trusted by the black population, while the same is true of white doctors and the white population. Hence, according to the author, black students are needed and should be recruited to the medical profession. Furthermore, affirmative action programs are seen as the ideal way to do this. The author goes even further by saying that, once black doctors are trusted, accepted and respected on the same level as white doctors by white, middle-class society, affirmative action programs will no longer be necessary.

The specific purpose of affirmative action programs such as quotas in medical schools, as Dworkin sees it, is therefore to provide black communities with more doctors or creating a more diverse medical community. The same is true in other professions that provide necessary services, such as the law. Dworkin appears to contend that affirmative action programs are the only way in which the medical, legal, and other traditionally white professions will gain significant diversity. He also appears to hold that this is the only way in which true equality can be attained in the future.

Finding the Solution

Affirmative action, racism and equality are indeed complex issues that will not be solved either soon or easily. It is a fact that the Constitution of the United States guarantees equal treatment for everybody. Perhaps this then should provide the most basic guideline for inclusive programs at universities and also in the workplace.

All the authors mentioned speak of hypocrisy. Some hold that hypocrisy focuses on promoting equality while advantaging a certain sector of society. Others believe that hypocrisy is rather ignoring the inequalities of the past and opposing programs aimed at remedying these. The issue is in itself a divisive one. The most important factor in this is the current and likely future effects of affirmative action programs. The bitterness and resentment created among many of those disadvantaged by these programs are detrimental any future vision of perfect social unity and equality.

In finding the solution, therefore, it is therefore perhaps better idea to create a solution that is based upon the individualism proposed by authors such as Yates. Because of the changing dynamic in various sectors of society, affirmative action programs and others like them should in fact no longer be based upon race at all, but rather upon other factors. These factors should be chosen for their detrimental effect on equality. Financial programs can for example be implemented to help those who struggle to pay their student fees. Extra educational programs can be implemented at school level for those who struggle to find sufficient time to use their full mental potential as a result of various factors such as difficulties in their home lives. Indeed, race, inequality and disadvantage are no longer synonymous. Instead, other factors have come into the equation; and these factors create the true disadvantage. Rather than therefore creating victims by means of dated programs for dated problems, universities and the workplace should consider the specific social disadvantages of the specific populations within which they operate. Only if race no longer play a significant role in these considerations, will the United States have any hope of true equality.


Dworkin makes a compelling argument for affirmative action - there is no doubt of that. However, his arguments are for a system that is no longer relevant in terms of the current social composition. Opportunities abound for any who cares to take them. Some individuals have specific obstacles that they need to overcome. Learning institution can help through programs that are targeted towards such programs rather than towards an unfair system of racial unfairness. When those who truly need it receive specific aid for their problems, resentment and hostility become petty, insignificant and ungrounded. Such resentment cannot last long in the face of the obvious advantages of these systems.

When individual help and trust each other, an equal and truly diverse society can be created. In such a society, individuals can decide for themselves what professions they wish to enter and how they want to qualify for these. Surely this is better than government-imposed recruitment programs that are no longer relevant in terms of individual needs.


Bernstein, Richard. "Racial Discrimination or Righting Past Wrongs?" New York Times. July 13, 1994.

Dworkin, Ronald. "Bakke's Case: Are Quotas Unfair?" In Race and Racism by Bernard R. Boxill, 2001.

Dworkin, Ronald et al. The Bakke Case: An Exchange. The New York Review of Books, Vol. 24, No. 21 & 22. Jan 26, 1978.

Morley, Jefferson. "Double Reverse Discrimination" in Justice: A Reader by Michael J. Sandel, 2007.

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