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There are six speakers in Ariadne's dialogue on affirmative action.
Their names are Ann, John, Fred, Vera, Malik, and Dee. Each has a
different view of the ethics of strong affirmative action programs, their
desirability, their probable outcomes, and their justification. The bulk
of the conversation is among Ann, John, Fred, and Malik. Vera and Dee
speak less, but they have strong views to express.
- Ann believes in an active
government that should tackle economic and social problems with zeal.
She is solidly liberal on all aspects of race relations. She supports
strong affirmative action.
- John is difficult to
classify. He listens to what the others say, assuming that there is some
truth in each of their views. His proposals are often attempts to weave
together policies that are fair to all parties.
- Fred is a conservative who
wants less government and less 'social engineering.' He is opposed to
racial discrimination, but also opposes strong affirmative action.
- Vera is a social democrat
and a solid feminist. She prefers a government that will act vigorously
to help working people, both black and white. She does not fear big
government, but her policies would not be based on race.
- Malik is concerned about
the condition of many black Americans. He supports strong affirmative
action, but would prefer a large scale program of reparations
administered by and for blacks themselves.
- Dee is a libertarian. She
advocates minimal government and maximum freedom of contract between
individuals. She opposes government mandated affirmative action, but she
does not object to voluntary programs carried out by private schools and
In many cases Ann and Malik will agree, but their approaches also differ
in important ways. The same is true for Fred and Dee. Keep in mind that
sometimes a speaker will say something that he or she is thinking about
but does not firmly believe. In conversation we often ask questions and
throw out ideas to see what others think or to get more information.