Affirmative Action and Racial Preferences

Affirmative Action and Racial Preferences : A Debate

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Racial preferences are among the most contentious issues in our society, touching on fundamental questions of fairness and the proper role of racial categories in government action. Now two contemporary philosophers, in a lively debate, lay out the arguments on each side. Carl Cohen, a key figure in the University of Michigan Supreme Court cases, argues that racial preferences are morally wrong-forbidden by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, and explicitly banned by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He also contends that such preferences harm society in general, damage the universities that use them, and undermine the minorities they were intended to serve. James P. Sterba counters that, far from being banned by the Constitution and the civil rights acts, affirmative action is actually mandated by law in the pursuit of a society that is racially and sexually just. The same Congress that adopted the 14th Amendment, he notes, passed race-specific laws that extended aid to blacks.Indeed, there are various kinds of affirmative action-compensation for past discrimination, remedial measures aimed at current discrimination, the guarantee of diversity-and Sterba reviews the Supreme Court cases that build a constitutional foundation for each. Affirmative action, he argues, favors qualified minority candidates, not unqualified ones. Both authors offer concluding comment on the University of Michigan cases decided in 2003. Half a century after Brown v. Board of Education, issues pertaining to racial discrimination continue to grip American society. This penetrating debate explores the philosophical and legal arguments on all sides of affirmative action, but also reveals the passions that drive the issue to the forefront of public more

Product details

  • Hardback | 410 pages
  • 149.4 x 215.9 x 34.3mm | 603.29g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195148940
  • 9780195148947

Review quote

"A superb review of the legal and moral pros and cons on affirmative action. Cohen maintains that it is unconstitutional, illegal, unjust and counterproductive. He is a seasoned veteran in the war against affirmative action and he marshals his arguments with great passion and skill. Sterba meets these arguments head on and gives a virtuoso defense of affirmative action."--Bernard Boxill, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill"It is not often that I read a book about race preferences and learn something new on every page. Such was the case with Cohen and Sterba's Affirmative Action and Racial Preference. The co-authors bring bring clarity and insight to a debate long characterized by half truth and confusion. This book is indispensable for anyone who seeks to understand the current public debate."--Terry Pell, Center for Individual Rightsshow more

About Carl Cohen

Carl Cohen is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on moral and political philosophy and logic. His essays have appeared in The Nation, Commentary, Ethics, and many law reviews and other periodicals. Former chairman of the ACLU of Michigan, Cohen has served on Michigan's admissions committees, and as chairman of its faculty. James P. Sterba is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. The author of twenty-three books, most recently Three Challenges to Ethics (OUP, 2001) he is the past president of the International Society for Social and Legal Philosophy, American Section, of Concerned Philosophers for Peace, and of the North American Society for Social more

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