Affirmative Action and the University: A Philosophical Inquiry

Affirmative Action and the University: A Philosophical Inquiry

Affirmative Action and the University: A Philosophical Inquiry

Affirmative Action and the University: A Philosophical Inquiry

Synopsis

"Within academia, affirmative action is an integral part of the appointment process. While equal opportunity for all candidates is widely recognized as a goal, the implementation of specific procedures to achieve equality has resulted in vehement disputes regarding both means and ends. Recently, however, as Steven Cahn observes, the affirmative action controversy has turned into an uneasy truce in which proponents and opponents "refrain from public debate while still whispering in corners [about] their adversaries."" "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. In Part I of Affirmative Action and the University, Francis writes in favor of the policy; Simon makes a case against it; and Becker proposes a compromise plan as a way out of the impasse. Cahn asked numerous other philosophers to respond to these three principal essays. In Part II, twenty-two philosophers grapple with the views presented by Francis, Simon, and Becker. While no consensus is reached, the resulting clash of reasoned judgments will serve to revitalize the issues raised by affirmative action." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

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 because of sex.

The original order authorized the secretary of labor to "adopt such rules and regulations . . . as he deems necessary and appropriate" pursuant to the order's purposes. In response to this mandate, the Department of Labor required all contractors to develop "an acceptable affirmative action program," including "an analysis of areas within which the contractor is deficient in the utilization of minority groups and women, and further, goals and timetables to which the contractor's good faith efforts must be directed to correct the deficiencies." The term "minority groups" referred to '"Blacks, Spanish-surnamed Americans, American Indians, and Orientals." The concept of "underutilization" meant "having fewer minorities or women in a particular job classification than would reasonably be expected by their availability." "Goals" were not to be "rigid and inflexible quotas" but "targets reasonably attainable by means of applying every good faith effort to make all aspects of the entire affirmative action program work."

Affirmative action is now an integral part of the appointment process at virtually every college and university in the United States. Announcements of available faculty or administrative positions routinely include statements such as this actual one: "[The University] is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer which actively seeks and encourages nominations of, and expressions of interest from, mi nority . . .

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