Argument: Affirm action justly asks whites to sacrifice for common good

Issue Report: Affirmative action

Extended argument and supporting evidence

  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “Affirmative Action”. Retrieved 10.1.07 – “If we turn away from exegesis of the Constitution, are we likely to find in political theory itself any principle of equality implying that every use of racial preferences in every circumstance works an intolerable injustice? There is reason to think not. To see why, consider John Rawls’ theory of justice-as-fairness. For our purposes, what is striking about the theory is the division of labor it embraces. Its very broadest principles of liberty and equality are themselves unable to single out proper micro-allocations of social benefits and burdens. This is not a defect; this is their nature. What they can do is structure roles and institutions which then create the social and legal machinery for assigning benefits and burdens. Rawls’ principles oblige a constitution to protect equality of citizenship but leaves most other matters to legislative judgment. Thus, law that in form and in fact makes some people “second-class citizens” would be unjust, clearly, but this limitation doesn’t bar government from asking people to bear unequal burdens for the common good, not even unequal burdens premised on race or ethnicity. Nor does Rawls’ principle of fair equality of opportunity block such burdens, either, for, while ordinarily discouraging selection based on race or ethnicity, it can itself be limited in the name of achieving greater equality of opportunity (the point noted by Goldman).”