Tag: education

Two arguments in defense of affirmative action

Thomas Nagel (1981) distinguishes between two forms of affirmative action. “Weak” affirmative action refers to “to special efforts to ensure equal opportunity for members of groups that had been subject to discrimination”. This can include public advertisement of positions to be filled, active recruitment of qualified applicants from the formerly excluded groups, and special training programs to help them meet the standards for admission or appointment. “Strong” affirmative action refers to “some degree of definite preference for members of these groups in determining access to positions from which they were formerly excluded.” The “weak” vs “strong” distinction has also been referred to as the “minimalist” vs “maximalist” distinction (Beauchamp 1998) or the “procedural” vs “preferential” distinction. As Nagel and Beauchamp note, most people agree that “weak” or “procedural” affirmative action is justified (and perhaps even morally obligatory). However, there is significant controversy regarding “strong” or “preferential” forms of affirmative action. In this post, I will defend “strong or “preferential” affirmative action.