Affirmative Action

Questions about the ethics of affirmative action have been frequently discussed for over 25 years. Advocates point to the value of undoing the impact of injustice and diversifying American institutions at all levels. Critics point to the value of a color-blind, sex-blind society. A series of Supreme Court decisions supported various kinds of affirmative action, but others have limited or opposed it. The issues are complex. Competent moral philosophers reach very different conclusions. If we view the issues as legal or constitutional questions, the same division occurs. Intelligent, well-informed people differ; and sometimes express their views with great passion.

Developing a reasoned view on the ethics of affirmative action requires carefully considering a network of concepts, issues, and arguments. Ariadne offers one path through that network. The path takes the form of a dialogue among six speakers. You can click BEGIN HERE to go to the introduction to the dialogue, or choose one of the other options below.

BEGIN HERE to follow Ariadne's Thread.


Remember, this is a complex issue. Ariadne's Thread is only a guide to some of its pathways. As always, the arguments on Ariadne have their own limitations of perspective. Several of the books in the bibliography are anthologies that include moral arguments on different sides of the issues. Some take perspectives that are not well represented in Ariadne's text. You may find them useful in developing your views.

Your ideas are welcome. Anyone using this site can send their reactions to Ariadne by email. You can also submit arguments and counter-arguments (or comments on existing arguments) for inclusion in the text. If you do submit an argument or comment, please suggest where you think it would best fit into the existing text. All submissions will be reviewed. If accepted, the name of the author will be acknowledged in the text.

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