Argument: Affirm action wrongly considers race over econ/edu factors

Issue Report: Affirmative action

Extended argument and supporting evidence

  • The white “coal miner’s son” against the wealthy black child:

    • Christopher Edley, the White House assistant put in charge of President Clinton’s review of affirmative action policy in 1994-95 – “Imagine a college admissions committee trying to decide between the white [son] of an Appalachian coal miner’s family and the African American son of a successful Pittsburgh neurosurgeon. Why should the black applicant get preference over the white applicant?” (Christopher Edley, Jr., Not All Black and White: Affirmative Action and American Values (New York: Hill and Wang, 1996), 132ff. Edley’s example involved a coal miner’s daughter; I’ve change the daughter to a son for expository purposes.)[1]

      • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Affirmative Action. Retrieved 10.1.07 – “Why, indeed? This is a hard question if one defends affirmative action in terms of compensatory or distributive justice. If directly doing justice is what affirmative action is about, then its mechanisms must be adjusted as best they can to reward individual desert and true merit. The ‘coal miner’s son’ example is meant to throw desert in the defender’s face: here is affirmative action at work thwarting desert, for surely the coal miner’s son—from the hard scrabble of Harlan County, say—has lived with far less advantage than the neurosurgeon’s son who, we may suppose, has reaped all the advantages of his father’s (or mother’s) standing. Why should the latter get a preference?”