By Steven M. Cahn
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Extra resources for Affirmative Action and the University: A Philosophical Inquiry
In his contribution to this volume, Robert Simon takes preferential treatment to be the central issue. We disagree on this point, I suspect in part because I would view as justified correctives many policies that he would classify as preferential. For example, I would regard as corrective the decision to force a department to take race or sex into account because unexplained, persistently disappointing failures to appoint women or minorities suggest hidden bias in the appointments process. Part of what I shall argue is that the need for correction explains why some groups-women or African Americans, for example-are appropriate targets for affirmative action, while other groups-Asian Americans, under most circumstances-are not.
67 If pure effort alone is what matters, these factors too should be given weight in decisions about academic appointments. Effort may be part of an account of what can be a desert basis in academic decision making, but more is needed. A more promising approach to understanding why traditional measures are thought to be the basis for desert is to look at what they are being used as selection criteria for: academic jobs in the discussion here. George Sher's recent study of desert is the most comprehensive discussion of this issue.
50 Crude efforts to turn back the clock-for example, speculating what the employment situation of African Americans in higher education would have been without slavery-are highly conjectural. i\ more promising approach 26 Leslie Pickering Francis is to try to understand what justice now requires in light of past or continuing wrongs. Put in this way, however, the compensatory question has once again been transformed into issues of correction and redistribution. Moreover, the required compensation may impose extensive burdens on those who were not initial perpetrators of the injustices and have not benefited significantly from them.
Affirmative Action and the University: A Philosophical Inquiry by Steven M. Cahn