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Morgan Curry

Dr. Trachtenberg

December 7, 2015

The Moral Dilemma of Affirmative Action

When hiring people for a job, there are multiple things that someone will look at

to see who is the best choice. But at what point has someone gone too far? Programs like

affirmative action are defined as programs taking the race or sex of employees or job

candidates into account as part of an effort to correct imbalances in employment that exist

as a result of past discrimination, either in the company itself or in the larger society

(Shaw, 437). Because minorities were treated with injustice in the past, affirmative

action levels the playing field for people who do not have the advantage of being white

and/or male. This seems like a very beneficial program, but there are many people who

disagree because they believe that affirmative action takes the advantages away from

white men and gives them to minorities, therefore reversing racial discrimination.

I believe that affirmative action is a moral program. White men have always had

advantages above minorities. This information is evident because people are continuing

to do studies to prove job discrimination is relevant, whether intentional or not. Shaw

discusses job discrimination proven by one of these studies. When investigators sent

equally qualified young white and black menall of them articulate and conventionally

dressedto apply for entry-level jobs in Chicago and Washington, D.C., the results

clearly showed racial discrimination against young African-American men (427). This

shows that there is still discrimination that needs to be stopped somehow. Affirmative

action is the best way to do this. If the firms in this study used programs like affirmative
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action there would be no racial rift in the results. Society today is easily blinded to

believe that there is no more racism or discrimination against race anymore because

legally all colors are equal. However, studies like this one prove that this isnt the case.

Im coming at this from a deontological standpoint because I believe that it is our duty as

a society to make sure that there is no longer discrimination for minorities. Affirmative

action will help fulfill that duty.

However, this does not reflect everyones opinion on the issue. Some people

believe that affirmative action is reversed discrimination, meaning that instead of

discriminating against minorities, it discriminates against the majority. Race-conscious

programs betray Martin Luther King's dream of a color-blind community, and the

heightened racial sensitivity they cause is a source of acrimony and tension instead of

healing (Sacks/Thiel, 1). This argument is saying that affirmative action, instead of

helping end discrimination, only draws attention to the difference in people and makes

people more sensitive to people that are different to them. This argument is utilitarian

because it is saying that there would be more good and more people would be better off if

there was no attention on the color of someones skin. This argument calls for people to

focus on something other than the color of skin. Another argument that is made against

affirmative action is that although Originally conceived as a means to redress

discrimination, racial preferences have instead promoted it (Sacks/Thiel, 1). This

argument is making the case on reverse discrimination; meaning people in the majority

are discriminated against instead of minorities. This argument uses the virtue theory by

looking at the intention behind affirmative action. Saying that the intention while good

natured, did not end up benefitting everyone.


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While this seems like a good way of thinking, it is really rather skewed. While

this says that people should be blind to other peoples differences I believe something

different. People need to be conscious of other peoples skin color when handling

situations. Saying that a society should be color blind is like saying that in order to

actually be equal to a white person, they need to be treated like they dont have color at

all. Differences like race and gender should be celebrated. Society needs to recognize that

people are unique and should be encouraged regardless. Also, combatting the point that

affirmative action heightens racial sensitivity; I believe that programs like affirmative

action are there with then intention of lessening racial tension. By using affirmative

action, a person is increasing the amount of diverse people that work there. The goal is to

make a diverse workplace normal. The other argument about the intention of affirmative

action also can be broken apart. Reverse discrimination is a term made up by majorities

that believed that they had been dealt a bad hand even though they have been at an

advantage for their entire life. People with the majority race (white people) have always

had privileges that minorities do not have. Saying that white people are oppressed in any

way is offensive to minorities that have had to deal with oppression on a very real level.