Affirmative Action and Racial Preference: A Debate

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Oxford University Press, 2003 - Law - 394 pages
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Racial preferences are among the most contentious issues in our society, touching on fundamental questions of fairness and the proper role of racial categories in government action. Now two contemporary philosophers, in a lively debate, lay out the arguments on each side. Carl Cohen, a key figure in the University of Michigan Supreme Court cases, argues that racial preferences are morally wrong--forbidden by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, and explicitly banned by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He also contends that such preferences harm society in general, damage the universities that use them, and undermine the minorities they were intended to serve. James P. Sterba counters that, far from being banned by the Constitution and the civil rights acts, affirmative action is actually mandated by law in the pursuit of a society that is racially and sexually just. The same Congress that adopted the 14th Amendment, he notes, passed race-specific laws that extended aid to blacks. Indeed, there are various kinds of affirmative action--compensation for past discrimination, remedial measures aimed at current discrimination, the guarantee of diversity--and Sterba reviews the Supreme Court cases that build a constitutional foundation for each. Affirmative action, he argues, favors qualified minority candidates, not unqualified ones. Both authors offer concluding comment on the University of Michigan cases decided in 2003. Half a century afterBrown v. Board of Education, issues pertaining to racial discrimination continue to grip American society. Ideal for courses in political, social, ethical, and legal philosophy, this penetrating debate explores the philosophical and legal arguments on all sides of affirmative action, but also reveals the passions that drive the issue to the forefront of public life.
 

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Contents

Affirmative Action
15
Race Preference Is Morally Wrong
23
Race Preference Is Rod for
109
Race Preference Is Bad for the Universities that
130
Race Preference Is Bad for Society as
164
The Future of Race Preference
181
DEFENDING AFFIRMATIVE ACTION DEFENDING PREFERENCES
189
A Definition of Affirmative Action
199
Remedial Affirmative Action and the U
213
Racial Discrimination v Sexual
226
A Defense of Diversity Affirmative Action
241
Objections to Affirmative Action
251
Affirmative Action outside the United States
273
REPLY TO JAMES P STERBA
305
Bibliography
365
Index
371

A Defense of Remedial Affirmative Action
206

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About the author (2003)


Carl Cohen is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on moral and political philosophy and logic. His essays have appeared in The Nation, Commentary, Ethics, and many law reviews and other periodicals. Former chairman of the ACLU of Michigan, Cohen has served on Michigan's admissions committees, and as chairman of its faculty. James P. Sterba is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. The author of twenty-three books, most recently Three Challenges to Ethics (OUP, 2001) he is the past president of the International Society for Social and Legal Philosophy, American Section, of Concerned Philosophers for Peace, and of the North American Society for Social Philosophy.

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