A Dialogue Concerning Claim Jumping and Compensatory Justice or Introducing Affirmative Action By Stealth
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Teaching Philosophy 21 (2):131-151 (1998)
This paper presents a lesson plan originally designed for applied ethics classes filled with primarily white, conservative students. In an environment where students used the terminology of “reverse discrimination” and “quotas” rather than “Affirmative Action,” the author employs a fictionalized example of a claim jumper and the rightful owner’s entitlement to the claim in order to present basic arguments for compensatory justice. These arguments are extended by analogy to the issue of Affirmative Action in order to deliver several key points: First, the “discrimination” of Affirmative Action programs is restitution, even if modern white people are not responsible for the privilege they possess, and thus Affirmative Action is not the same as the discrimination suffered by African-Americans. Second, an extraordinarily high number of African-Americans are still suffering as a result of past injustices. Third, while theoretical opportunity may exist for African-Americans today, true equal opportunity does not. Appended to this paper are a number of statistics relevant to the Affirmative Action debate and an Affirmative Action bibliography
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