Sources & Extracts

Review these ideas and then go back to the main thread.


In the introduction to Equality and Preferential Treatment, Thomas Nagel lists some of the positions that you might take on the justice of preferential treatment for blacks and women. The list is incomplete, but it gives some idea of the spread of opinion. He writes as follows:

Possible conclusions about preferential treatment include the following: (a) It is morally impermissible because it violates the rights of those excluded under it.
(b) It is morally permissible but a bad idea because the costs outweigh the benefits.
(c) It is morally permissible and should be undertaken because at present the benefits outweigh the costs.
(d) It is morally obligatory because women and minorities have a right to preferential treatment as compensation for injustice and its effects.

Reference: Thomas Nagel, Equality and Preferential Treatment, p. xiv.