Affirmative Action The Term 'Affirmative Action' Collectively Essay

Length: 3 pages Sources: 3 Subject: Race Type: Essay Paper: #9898809 Related Topics: Title Vii, College Application, College Admission, Pro And Con
Excerpt from Essay :

Affirmative Action

The term 'affirmative action' collectively refers to the positive steps that have been taken to increase the representation of minority groups in business, employment, and college admissions by according them preferential treatment in a bid to make up for the injustices committed against them in the past (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2001). Its contestation, defense, and development often proceeds along two paths -- administrative and legal (in the form of executive orders or court rulings requiring organizations to practice affirmative action) and public debate (in the form of literature showing the pros and cons of such preferential treatment). A notable case of the former was witnessed a few years back, when the Supreme Court ruled against three white students from the University of Michigan who had challenged the university's selection policy, which gave students from minority groups higher points, on grounds that it encouraged race-based discrimination (Messerli, 2012). The school's argument then was that the policy presented opportunities for achieving true diversity; an argument that has been approved by most of the proponents of affirmative action. Skeptics have, however, questioned its rationale, with some arguing that it has already served its purpose and is no longer necessary, unless the nation plans to make up for past injustices for its entire existence. This text analyses the arguments presented by both the opposing and the proposing factions in a bid to determine whether affirmative action supports an ethical rationale for diversity and inclusion.

Before embarking on the main discussion, however, it would be prudent to first present several examples of situations and court cases with affirmative action in

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United Steelworkers of America (1979): in this case, a white employee brought suit against a Louisiana steel manufacturing plant, arguing that its in-plant training program, which distributed positions on a 50-50 basis between white and black employees, was in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (The Leadership Conference, 2015). The argument was that by setting aside a standard number of spots for black and white employees, the program infringed on the rights of white employees as it allowed the promotion of junior blacks ahead of some senior whites, just so the numbers for each group would add up (The Leadership Conference, 2015). The court ruled that private entities had the right to implement their own affirmative action programs to make up for the racial injustices of the past.

U.S. v. Paradise (1987): in this case, a petitioner brought suit against the Alabama Department of Public Safety challenging the legality of its one-black-for-one-white promotion scheme, which required a qualified black to be promoted for every white candidate promoted (The Leadership Conference, 2015). The court ruled in favor of the Department, arguing that the affirmative action program provided a unique opportunity for the state to make up for the racial injustices committed against the black American community in the past (The Leadership Conference, 2015).

These examples stir up three fundamental ethical questions:

i) Is it ethical to show preference for one group over another on the basis of demographics?

ii) To what extent should these preferences be allowed to overshadow other qualities such as merit and candidate's qualification or experience?

iii) Is affirmative action an effective way of eliminating discrimination against minorities?

Proponents and opponents of affirmative action have differed in their responses to the above questions. The next subsection presents and weighs the arguments presented both for and against affirmative action.

Arguments for Affirmative Action

The most fundamental argument for affirmative action is that it provides avenues for organizations to increase their degree of diversity, and to consequently reap the benefits that come…

Sources Used in Documents:

References

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (2001). Affirmative Action. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 6 March 2015 from http://www.civilrights.org/resources/civilrights101/affirmaction.html

The Leadership Conference. (2015). Affirmative Action. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Retrieved 6 March 2015 from http://www.civilrights.org/resources/civilrights101/affirmaction.html

Tomasson, R.F., Crosby, F.J. & Herzberger, S.D. (2001). Affirmative Action: The Pros and Cons of Policy and Practice. Lanham, MA: Rowman & Littlefield


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