Racism and Justice: The Case for Affirmative Action

Front Cover
Cornell University Press, 1991 - Social Science - 139 pages

Affirmative action: does it really counteract racism? Is it morally justifiable? In her timely and tough-minded book, Gertrude Ezorsky addresses these central issues in the ongoing controversy surrounding affirmative action, and comes up with some convincing answers.

Ezorsky begins by examining the effectiveness of affirmative action as a remedy for institutional racism in the workplace. She analyzes the ways in which common practices-selection of employees based on personal connections, qualification, and seniority standards-perpetuate the injurious effect of past racial discrimination, and she assesses the rationale for such affirmative action measures as objective job-related testing, numerical goals, and preferential treatment for basically qualified blacks. To illuminate the social reality in which affirmative action takes place, she draws on recent work by social scientists and legal scholars.

Turning to the moral issues, Ezorsky posits two basic justifications for affirmative action: first, looking backward-to provide deserved compensation for past racial injustice that was sanctioned, practiced, and encouraged by our government; second, looking forward-to promote racial desegregation in the American workplace. Unlike some supporters of affirmative action, she does not deny that preferential treatment may place an unfair burden on white males. Indeed, she suggests specific practical measures for spreading that burden more equitably.

Clear-headed, well-reasoned, and persuasive, this book will be read eagerly by everyone from students to legislators, by anyone concerned with racial justice in America.


What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Introduction I
Overt and Institutional Racism
Remedies for Racism
Instrumental Criticism
Moral Perspectives on Affirmative
Unqualified Blacks as Unaffected
Meritocratic Critics
Overt and Institutional Racism
Remedies for Institutional Racism
A Response to Moral Critics of

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1991)

Gertrude Ezorsky is Professor Emerita, City University of New York, Brooklyn College and the Graduate School. She is the author of Racism and Justice: The Case for Affirmative Action, also from Cornell, and the editor of Philosophical Perspectives on Punishment and Moral Rights in the Workplace.

Bibliographic information