The Individual and the Political Order: An Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy

By Norman E. Bowie; Robert L. Simon | Go to book overview

is controversial, but there is at least the need to require hiring officers to demonstrate good faith efforts to find the best candidates.


SUMMARY

We have found that preferential treatment on the basis of race, sex, or similar group membership raises serious ethical questions and is open to the charge that it fails to respect persons in fundamental and important ways. We have suggested, however, that if preferential treatment is reformulated in ways that can apply across racial and other group lines, while still taking into account the special burdens facing members of victimized groups, it may avoid the charge of reverse discrimination. In our view, no individual should be sacrificed on the altars of egalitarian or compensatory ideals; and surely not when less obtrusive alternatives are available. The challenge posed by the reverse discrimination controversy is to promulgate rectificatory policies which acknowledge the force of claims to redress while avoiding arbitrary or inequitable treatment. Justice and equality demand no less.


NOTES
1
Allan Bakke vs. The Regents of the University of California, U.S. Supreme Court, 1978.
2
Actually, the issue of what counts as nondiscrimination is more complex than the text indicates. Depending upon how one wants to define "discrimination," race, religion, sex, and ethnic background arguably sometimes can be applied in nondiscriminatory ways. Thus, if one goes to a rabbi for information about Jewish religious practices, hires a black actor to play the part of a black in a movie or selects only women to play on a college women's basketball team, then, arguably, one is not discriminating in any invidious way. So, more precisely, a selection process is nondiscriminatory if it takes race, religion, sex, or ethnic background into account only when they are relevant to the qualifications of applicants. When such factors are relevant, or when the purpose of a job or institution is itself discriminatory, are matters for further discussion. While these issues are of importance, they are not directly relevant to our own discussion and so can be ignored in what follows, unless specifically mentioned.
3
This point has been made by J. L. Cowen in his paper "Inverse Discrimination," Analysis, Vol 33, No. 1 ( 1972): pp. 10-12.
4
At least, those who assign the costs do not base their assignment on claims that those disadvantaged actually have discriminated.
5
Such a point is suggested by Judith Jarvis Thomson in her paper, "Preferential Hiring," Philosophy & Public Affairs, Vol. 2, No. 4 ( 1973) p. 383 and is criticized by Robert K. Fullinwider in his book, The Reverse Discrimination Controversy ( Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1980) pp. 37-42.
6
For discussion of a similar case, see Fullinwider, p. 39.
7
The next four paragraphs of this section are reprinted from Robert Simon, "Preferential Hiring: A Reply to Judith Jarvis Thomson," Philosophy & Public Affairs, Vol. 3, No. 3, ( 1974), pp. 312-21, copyright © 1974, Princeton University Press, reprinted by permission of Princeton University Press.

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The Individual and the Political Order: An Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Selected Readings 5
  • One Love It or Leave It? Individual Conscience and Political Authority 7
  • Suggested Readings 26
  • Two Utilitarianism 28
  • Notes 46
  • Notes 47
  • Three Natural Rights: Meaning and Justification 72
  • Notes 74
  • Suggested Readings 75
  • Four Justice 77
  • Suggested Readings 112
  • Five Democracy and Political Obligation 114
  • Suggested Readings 140
  • Six Liberty 141
  • Notes 168
  • Notes 170
  • Seven Law and Order 171
  • Articles 201
  • Eight an Evaluation of Preferential Treatment 202
  • Notes 228
  • Notes 230
  • Nine Ethics and International Affairs 231
  • Notes 257
  • Notes 259
  • Index 260
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