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Affirmative Action and the University: A Philosophical Inquiry

Steven Cahn

Publication Year: 2009

"This book is recommended for anyone interested in understanding, questioning, articulating, and acting on the basis of their own and others' perspectives on sexism, racism, and affirmative action in American higher education." —Choice While equal opportunity for all candidates is widely recognized as a goal within academia, the implementation of specific procedures to achieve equality has resulted in vehement disputes regarding both the means and ends. To encourage a reexamination of this issue, Cahn asked three prominent American social philosophers—Leslie Pickering Francis, Robert L. Simon, and Lawrence C. Becker—who hold divergent views about affirmative action, to write extended essays presenting their views. Twenty-two other philosophers then respond to these three principal essays. While no consensus is reached, the resulting clash of reasoned judgments will serve to revitalize the issues raised by affirmative action. Contents Introduction – Steven M. Cahn Part I 1. In Defense of Affirmative Action – Leslie Pickering Francis 2. Affirmative Action and the University: Faculty Appointment and Preferential Treatment – Robert L. Simon 3. Affirmative Action and Faculty Appointments – Lawrence C. Becker Part II 4. What Good Am I? – Laurence Thomas 5. Who "Counts" on Campus? – Ann Hartle 6. Reflections on Affirmative Action in Academia – Robert G. Turnbull 7. The Injustice of Strong Affirmative Action – John Kekes 8. Preferential Treatment Versus Purported Meritocratic Rights – Richard J. Arneson 9. Faculties as Civil Societies: A Misleading Model for Affirmative Action – Jeffrie G. Murphy 10. Facing Facts and Responsibilities – The White Man's Burden and the Burden of Proof – Karen Hanson 11. Affirmative Action: Relevant Knowledge and Relevant Ignorance – Joel J. Kupperman 12. Remarks on Affirmative Action – Andrew Oldenquist 13. Affirmative Action and the Multicultural Ideal – Philip L. Quinn 14. "Affirmative Action" in the Cultural Wars – Frederick A. Olafson 15. Quotas by Any Name: Some Problems of Affirmative Action in Faculty Appointments – Tom L. Beauchamp 16. Are Quotas Sometimes Justified? – James Rachels 17. Proportional Representation of Women and Minorities – Celia Wolf-Devine 18. An Ecological Concept of Diversity – La Verne Shelton 19. Careers Open to Talent – Ellen Frankel Paul 20. Some Sceptical Doubts – Alasdair MacIntyre 21. Affirmative Action and Tenure Decisions – Richard T. De George 22. Affirmative Action and the Awarding of Tenure – Peter J. Markie 23. The Case for Preferential Treatment – James P. Sterba 24. Saying What We Think – Fred Sommers 25. Comments on Compromise and Affirmative Action – Alan H. Goldman About the Authors Index About the Author(s) Steven M. Cahn is Professor of Philosophy and former Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has published numerous other books, including Morality, Responsibility, and the University (Temple). Contributors: Laurence Thomas, Ann Hartle, Robert G. Turnbull, John Kekes, Richard J. Arneson, Jeffrie G. Murphy, Karen Hanson, Joel J. Kupperman, Andrew Oldenquist, Philip L. Quinn, Frederick A. Olafson, Tom L. Beauchamp, James Rachels, Celia Wolf-Devine, La Verne Shelton, Ellen Frankel Paul, Alasdair MacIntyre, Richard T. De George, Peter J. Markie, James P. Sterba, Fred Sommers, Alan H. Goldman, and the editor.

Published by: Temple University Press

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction

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pp. 1-6

In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson issued Executive Order 11246, directing that "all Government contracting agencies ... take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed ... without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin." Two years later the order was amended to prohibit discrimination in employment ...

Part 1

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1. In Defense of Affirmative Action

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pp. 9-47

After more than twenty-five years of affirmative action law in the United States, college and university faculties remain largely white and male. Nearly 90 percent of full-time faculty are white, 4 percent are Asian, 3 percent are African American, 2 percent are Hispanic, and 1 percent are Native American.1 Just over 25 percent of faculty positions ...

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2. Affirmative Action and the University: Faculty Appointment and Preferential Treatment

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pp. 48-92

Each person to count for one; no one to count for more than one." This formula has long been regarded as expressing the heart of egalitarianism. But while many may agree superficially on the words of the abstract formula, they often disagree vehemently about how it is best to be applied. One such disagreement, a disagreement ...

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3. Affirmative Action and Faculty Apppointments

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pp. 93-122

This essay may be more the product of exasperation than of conviction. At any rate, it is based on a set of assumptions that reflect how little hope I have of being able to say anything both useful and philosophically interesting about affirmative action. My assumptions are these: (1) The philosophical debate about affirmative action ...

Part II

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4. What Good Am I?

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pp. 125-131

What good am I as a black professor? The raging debate over affirmative action surely invites me to ask this searching question of myself, just as it must invite those belonging to other socalled suspect categories to ask it of themselves. If knowledge is color blind, why should it matter whether the face in front of the classroom ...

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5. Who "Counts" on Campus?

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pp. 132-133

The need for "diversity" is the only specifically academic argument for affirmative action in faculty appointments. According to this view, education is an enterprise in which the student learns by being exposed to different perspectives on the world, or at least on the human world. The educationally valuable perspectives, ...

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6. Reflections on Affirmative Action in Academia

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pp. 134-143

The United States, despite lapses from moral and constitutional grace, is a special nation. By constitution and historical encouragement of immigration and naturalization, it is committed to the recognition and preservation of the individual rights of a racially, ethnically, and religiously diverse population. ...

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7. The Injustice of Strong Affirmative Action

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pp. 144-156

The context of affirmative action is the selection of people for prized, scarce, and competitive jobs, opportunities, or honors. It is customary to distinguish between two forms such a policy may take. The aim of the weak form is to ensure both open access to the initial pool from which people are selected and selection in accordance ...

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8. Preferential Treatment Versus Purported Meritocratic Rights

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pp. 157-164

Controversy persists in the United States over whether affirmative action hiring policies are an effective means of achieving legitimate social goals. Some query the moral legitimacy of any of the goals that affirmative action might be thought to serve; others believe that if there are any such legitimate goals, affirmative action will not ...

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9. Faculties as Civil Societies: A Misleading Model for Affirmative Action

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pp. 165-173

Should faculty appointments at colleges and universities be based, at least in part, on considerations of affirmative action for such targeted groups as women and members of racial minorities? Many, particularly those who favor such affirmative action, see this question as one of distributive justice—as an attempt to make sure ...

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10. Facing Facts and Responsibilities: The White Man's Burden and the Burden of Proof

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pp. 174-180

The three lead essays in this volume display an admirable commitment to uncovering common ground between opposing sides of the affirmative action debate. Each essay is attentive to the theoretical and practical issues of individual and social justice generally at stake in the controversy and to the particular inflections ...

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11. Affirmative Action: Relevant Knowledge and Relevant Ignorance

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pp. 181-188

Affirmative action is one of those disturbing issues of our time, like that of abortion, about which reasonable people can disagree. The issue never is resolved, partly because what look to some like brute facts turn out to be highly interpreted; and the interpretations can be called into question. Part of the reason also ...

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12. Remarks on Affirmative Action

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pp. 189-196

A premise with which I and most supporters of affirmative action almost certainly agree is that groups that previously have been mistreated and excluded ought to be well represented on a university's faculty. They ought to be represented in such numbers and proportions that reasonable members of these groups do not complain. ...

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13. Affirmative Action and the Multicultural Ideal

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pp. 197-205

I suppose there is widespread agreement that faculty positions over the past couple of decades llave been both much sought after and in short supply. And I think it would be hard to deny that members of the groups currently protected by affirmative action law have in the past, along with members of certain other groups, ...

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14. "Affirmative Action" in the Cultural Wars

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pp. 206-211

The real issue in all of these essays is whether there is any adequate justification for a conception of "affirmative action" as compensation or redistribution rather than as an intensified requirement of fairness in the assessment of individual merit. As far as I can see, the arguments advanced by Robert Simon show, ...

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15. Quotas by Any Name: Some Problems of Affirmative Action in Faculty Appointments

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pp. 212-216

We have struggled with problems of justice and social utility in combating discrimination at least since President Lyndon Johnson's 1965 executive order announcing toughened federal requirements. My views on what have become the mainstream problems of affirmative action conform closely to the approach and the substantive ...

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16. Are Quotas Sometimes Justified?

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pp. 217-222

Of the many kinds of policies that have been devised to combat discrimination, quotas are the most despised. Almost no one has a good word to say about them. Even those who defend other varieties of preferential treatment are eager, more often than not, to make it known that they do not approve of quotas. ...

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17. Proportional Representation of Women and Minorities

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pp. 223-232

I begin by asking a question, an affirmative answer to which seems presupposed by the current debate on affirmative action1: Is there necessarily something wrong if there is a low percentage of African Americans or women or Hispanics, et cetera, in the field of college teaching relative to their proportion ...

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18. An Ecological Concept of Diversity

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pp. 233-249

In his contribution to this volume, Lawrence Becker expresses exasperation about what he sees as a deadlock among intellectuals. He suggests that there is grave difficulty in arguing for anything beyond procedural and regulatory forms of affirmative action and, since thirty years of debate over affirmative action and ...

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19. Careers Open to Talent

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pp. 250-263

Lawrence Becker is right about at least one thing when he expresses exasperation about the "normative literature" on affirmative action being stuck in a rut with the familiar arguments "repeated nearly verbatim year by year." The debate raged in the philosophical literature in the mid- to late 1970s, then exhausted itself for a decade, ...

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20. Some Sceptical Doubts

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pp. 264-268

What is most remarkable about the articles by Leslie Francis and Robert Simon is the uniform level of abstract generality at which their arguments move. Both articles could have been written by people who had heard and read about universities and colleges but had never actually been in one. And both authors share certain ...

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21. Affirmative Action and Tenure Decisions

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pp. 269-274

Three years ago my department had its first tenure track opening in fifteen years. We were a department of thirteen members—all white males. The university's affinnative action office told us we had a target of 2.4 women and 1 minority member. Although we disliked being told what our target is, the members of ...

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22. Affirmative Action and the Awarding of Tenure

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pp. 275-285

The three main essays in this collection concentrate on affirmative action in the appointment of university faculty; I shall concentrate on a closely related but separate topic: affirmative action in the awarding of tenure. After I make some initial distinctions to organize my discussion, I shall argue that, at least in ...

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23. The Case for Preferential Treatment

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pp. 286-290

In their interesting and thoughtful contributions to this volume, Lawrence Becker, Leslie Francis, and Robert Simon all favor the use of affirmative action programs by institutions of higher education. Affirmative action for them encompasses various procedural and regulatory policies designed to remove forms of ...

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24. Saying What We Think

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pp. 291-294

A quarter-century of affirmative action law (AAL) has been accompanied by as many years of moral scrutiny. By now Lawrence Becker's conclusion that the philosophical debate over AAL has for some time been stalled seems uncontestable. Philosophers on either side of the issue appear to have found no common ground ...

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25. Comments on Compromising and Affirmative Action

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pp. 295-300

The authors of the three main essays in this volume all advocate a similar methodological approach to the issue of affirmative action at this point in the history of the debate on the policy. After so many years of philosophical and political argument, after so many interested parties have made up their minds on the issue, ...

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About the Authors

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pp. 301-306

RICHARD J. ARNESON is a professor of philosophy at the University of California at San Diego. He has held visiting appointments at California Institute of Technology and the University of California at Davis. He has written papers on philosopllical ideas in literature, ...

Index

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pp. 307-310


E-ISBN-13: 9781439901113

Publication Year: 2009