ABSTRACT

Basic equality’s role in justifying affirmative action can seem an intuitively straightforward one but there is an equally strong widely felt moral intuition to the effect that affirmative action is precisely the kind of thing we should avoid if we are committed to basic equality. We need therefore, as I have intimated throughout this book, to go beyond these intuitions and embark on a difficult process of considering the interests of all parties affected by our choice of affirmative action as an attempt to right the wrong of discrimination. Though so much has been written about affirmative action I think an assessment of the main arguments still yields the conclusion that it is hard to say whether the practice of affirmative action is consistent with fidelity to basic equality. Even in the country which has studied affirmative action more carefully than any other, the United States, the research that has been done does not seem to clearly establish that affirmative action is worth the trouble, the moral trouble in particular.