Instructions Write a short essay in answer to the following dilemma (given below). If your answers depend on any additional assumptions (not mentioned in the question), explain briefly why and make the assumptions explicit. Your essay should rely on the reading material and discussions in class. There is no need to rely on literature or cases beyond those listed in the syllabus, but you may do so if you wish (if so make sure to cite whatever outside sources you use). Your completed essay should be 5-7 pages in standard formatting (12pt font, double-spaced, normal margins). Many efforts have been made since the end of the 19th century in order to remedy the results of hundreds of years of slavery, segregation and denial of opportunity for groups that have been historically victim to discrimination. Today, several businesses, universities and other programs employ affirmative action policies as a way to try to correct for these past injustices. Harvard considers race in its admissions process for all applicants. Recently an anonymous group of Asian American who were rejected from Harvard sued the university, arguing that Harvard caps the number of spots available to Asian Students like them. Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard focuses on the question of whether Harvard has violated the Civil Rights Act by unlawfully discriminating against Asian Americans. Though the plaintiffs claimed that they are not fighting ‘against affirmative action’ necessarily, they do believe that the only way to truly ensure that Asian Americans stand an equal and fair chance in admissions is if race is completely removed from the process. The Dilemma Is Harvard’s race-conscious admissions process a case of wrongful/bad/morally impermissible discrimination against Asian American Students and should Harvard remove race as a factor in admissions? Why or Why not? When writing your paper consider the following questions (it is not necessary that you address any one of these questions in your paper, but they should help you when it comes to thinking more about the case): ● What are some reasons IN FAVOR of Harvard’s race-conscious admissions process? ○ When answering this question consider what is the point of affirmative action policies? ○ Are Universities morally and or legally obligated to correct for past racial injustices? ○ Who benefits the most from affirmative action policies? ● What are some reasons AGAINST Harvard’s race-conscious admissions process? ○ Who is harmed the most by affirmative action policies? ○ How exactly does a race conscious admissions policy correct for injustices that occurred years ago? ● Is there a possible solution that can hold onto affirmative action policies while at the same time making it so Asian Americans aren’t discriminated against as a result? ○ (Consider the Slate article on Athletes and Legacies) ○ Is it actually possible to discriminate in favor of someone without harming someone else? ● What makes discrimination bad? How does your answer to this question impact your answer to the overall dilemma? ○ If you adopt a harm based account of the badness of discrimination, how important is it that the Asian American students who are suing are made ‘worse off’ by not getting into Harvard? ● Are Asian Americans made worse off in a way that white students are not made worse off? ● Do the benefits of affirmative action outweigh the harm that it does to Asian Americans? ● What other sorts of factors are at play in this dilemma? ● What are the implications of this case for other cases like it? How would this impact cases like the ones we discussed in class (chick fil a manager, club for only white people etc.) ● How might Pojman react to this dilemma? Would he consider this to be a case of Strong or Weak Affirmative Action? ● How might Luke Charles Harris and Uma Narayan respond to this case? In particular, would they view Harvard’s admission process as a form of creating equal opportunity or rather a form of compensation/preferential treatment for the sake of social utility? ○ Consider Harvard’s rationale/justification for implementing their race based admissions policy. What does it have to do with promoting diversity? Compensating for past injustices? Social Utility? What might Pojman say about this? Notes and Guidelines ● Make sure that your paper has structure: for example, there is a question it presents, an answer to it supported by an argument or two, possible objections to the argument, perhaps a revised or better argument instead, etc. Give the reader a clear sense of what is the issue and how you are going to proceed. ● There is no need to try to be original or to invent a new idea. Your paper should exhibit that you understand the material and are able to express some critical thoughts about it. You are not expected to make groundbreaking progress in the literature, only to show that you understand the arguments and their relative strengths and weaknesses.
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