Sterba on Affirmative Action, or, it Never was the bus, it was Us!

The Journal of Ethics 15 (3):281-290 (2011)
Abstract
Professor Sterba argues for two interesting and provocative positions regarding affirmative action. First, affirmative action programs are still needed to ensure diversity in educational institutions of higher learning. Secondly, the proponents and opponents of affirmative action are not as far apart as they seem to think. To this end, he proposes a position that would give weight to race as a category for affirmative action that can withstand the challenges of affirmative action opponents while giving the needed support for affirmative action proponents. It is his contention that both sides can support arguments for diversity affirmative action. This paper raises concerns about the ability of arguments for racial diversity to resolve or bring together opponents and proponents of affirmative action. It is argued that the negative social climate, regarding the social and intellectual merits of black Americans, works against the acceptance of affirmative action programs. In sum, it is argued that Professor Sterba’s position continues to put the social onus of changing racial attitudes on blacks with little or no effort on the part of whites other than allowing blacks admittance to formerly segregated educational institutions to interact with white students.
Keywords Affirmative action  Black Americans  Diversity affirmative action  James Sterba  Racial Attitudes  Racism
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DOI 10.1007/s10892-011-9104-4
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