Editor’s note: In the essay “I’m for Affirmative Action. Can You Change My Mind?” Gary Gutting asked readers to argue against his stance in favor of affirmative action for minorities in college admissions. He received over 750 responses, many challenging his position. Below he responds to a selection of those comments, edited for clarity and length.
Listen, Washington: It seems to me the justification for affirmative action just keeps changing. First it was to make up for blacks having grown up in disadvantaged neighborhoods and attending bad schools in the inner city so their lower test scores have to be “put in context.” Then when you point out that the majority of black students admitted to elite colleges are not from the inner city but are children of upper-middle-class black professionals who attended good suburban schools, the excuse turns to, “Well, it’s to make up for slavery and past injustices.” However, many black students accepted are children of recent Nigerian immigrant doctors, who are clearly not descendants of slaves. Why are these recent African immigrants eligible for affirmative action but not the poor immigrant children of Chinatown who grew up with parents working three jobs to support them?
Gutting: You’re right that there have been different justifications for affirmative action in different situations. Sometimes the justification is weak, as you point out for the case of simply ignoring the effects of bad prior schooling. I need to emphasize that my argument is for just one specific form of affirmative action: giving special consideration at elite schools to black applicants who have a high probability of success in college but, like many other applicants, don’t quite come to the top of the list. Also, the affirmative action extends only to blacks who (whether or not descendants of slaves) have been disadvantaged by the inequalities still in our society. Children of successful recent immigrants do not qualify. Of course, we can’t simply ignore poor Chinese immigrants and other disadvantaged groups, but overall we’ve treated blacks much more badly than we have other groups, so there’s a more compelling case for them.
Citizen, U.S.: You argue that populations of elite schools should match the demographics of society at large. People vary for all types of reasons, and there is no reason to think that academic competence is evenly distributed across all variables. I think this really gets down to whether you value group rights over individual rights. I would prefer to live in a system where every individual, regardless of traits, is judged based on competence and not based on irrelevant inherent characteristics like race, gender or color. Otherwise who gets to choose what inherent traits we prefer? Today it’s race and gender. Tomorrow it may be height, weight, attractiveness, health status, age, intelligence. The list goes on.
Gutting: I agree that individual rights are fundamental and that we should aim for a world where individual ability is all that counts. But individuals live in social groups, so there’s always the possibility of judging individuals by race, gender, etc. And such judgments are still a major factor in our society. My affirmative action proposal is, in fact, meant to increase the number of highly competent blacks in upper-middle-class positions to the point where we no longer see anything odd in being operated on by a black surgeon or being represented by a black attorney. As to the question of who chooses which inherent traits we prefer, the answer is that we all argue for the choices we prefer — just as you and I are arguing that individual competence is fundamental — and society eventually makes a choice.
Doubting Thomas: The best reason to oppose affirmative action for college admissions is that is just does not work. Dr. Gutting says “blacks make up 15 percent of the college-age population but only 6 percent of those enrolled at the top 100 private and public schools” and that “the figures have scarcely changed since 1980.” So, in all this time with affirmative action “the figures have scarcely changed.” Wouldn’t we be insane to continue?
Gutting: We do need to look more closely at the data on rate of black enrollment. I suspect that many schools have aimed only at a rate that will satisfy their public relations needs and have little interest in solving a serious social problem. In any case, legal restrictions on affirmative action in California and other states and the Supreme Court’s insistence on a diverse student body rather than specific affirmative action for blacks have held back enrollment percentages.
NYInsider, NYC: The reasons in favor of affirmative action as stated in this editorial are persuasive, and as a middle-aged white man who considers himself a progressive I find myself agreeing with many of them in theory. In practice, however, there remain fundamental questions not addressed by Dr. Gutting: what to do with the white kid who would otherwise qualify for a spot in someplace like Harvard, but then loses that spot to a black kid who would not have made it in if he or she were white? Do we tell the white kid that this is society’s way of making up for past discrimination that they may currently benefit from but had no hand in perpetrating? Do we tell them too bad for you that you weren’t born black? And how are these white kids and their families supposed to react to what they’re told? Do we tell them to just suck it up, that there’s plenty of other good schools out there? If so, then aren’t we just shifting the platitudes from a white family to a black family while continuing the cycle of discrimination?
Gutting: It seems we agree that affirmative action is the preferable policy, but you’re rightly asking how to respond to white applicants who think it discriminates against them. A first point is that the pervasive discrimination against blacks far outweighs this single act of discrimination. White applicants might wish they were black during the admissions process, but not for their entire lives. Second, note that there’s relatively little objection to discrimination in favor of athletes, children of donors and children of alums. These factors should make it easier for whites to see their rejection as an act of social justice. They should also understand that though they themselves had no role in establishing our society’s systematic discrimination against blacks, they have nonetheless benefited from this discrimination. So I do think that there are ways to resolve the practical problems.
Claudia, New Hampshire: As Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned, the issue is whether we ought to be aiming for results or for process. If you believe in meritocracy, then you establish a set of meaningful rules: College admissions go to those with the highest test scores and the highest grades and that is how you define qualified.
If your main goal is to apportion the glittering prizes to a representative cohort that “looks like America,” then you put your thumb on the scales. The problem with meritocracy is that it isn’t meritocratic. Turns out the college boards can be gamed by Kaplan and those with enough money to game it. And they may identify only a small band of intelligence and aptitude. And grades? Well, we all know how objective those are.
When Berkeley went all in for meritocracy, they got a campus on which nearly a third of students were Asian, and they were fine with that. It was fair. They multiplied test scores by GPAs and there was no need for interviews or letters of recommendation. Color-blind admissions resulted in a dramatic shift in color on campus.
Nobody much minds if the basketball team looks like America. It can be all black, as long as it wins. But that is because there is a clear-cut way to judge quality on the basketball court. What is quality on a campus with engineers, poets, musicians and medical students? In the 1960s, admitting more blacks to some Ivy League campuses resulted in blacks who chose to live in black dorms, who ate at separate tables in the cafeteria. How did that advance the value of a diverse society?
Gutting: I agree that meritocracy requires meaningful rules of judgment. But I don’t see why grades and test scores alone should determine admission decisions. Elite schools rightly take account of a much wider range of “merit.” Admittedly, there’s no algorithm as there is in sports for choosing among very different kinds of values. We are, however, able to make plausible judgments in such cases, for example, preferring a quiet evening at home to a night on the town. Black self-isolation is hardly the inevitable result of affirmative action programs — but it’s likely to occur when applicants are accepted without regard to their prospects of success.
Tamir, Washington: It’s true that, all things being equal, certain minorities, particularly African-Americans, suffer burdens relative to other minorities. But poor kids of all races are burdened relative to rich kids; those from single-parent families are similarly burdened, as are those who are physically or mentally abused. As are children who are disabled. The child of a mentally ill parent is also likely to suffer disadvantages. I could proceed ad nauseum.
The point is, if you truly want to be morally credible from a policy perspective, don’t you either need to recognize all of these disadvantages or none of them? But a system where all conceivable systemic disadvantages are taken into account would be hopelessly complicated and impossible to implement in practice. It therefore follows that affirmative action is not a tenable practice.
Gutting: I agree that moral credibility requires that we recognize the many sorts of disadvantages from which people suffer, but I don’t think it follows that we have to try to solve all the problems simultaneously. On the contrary, the fact that we can’t do everything at once shows that we need to proceed piecemeal. This means that we should take a detailed look at degrees of need and of our available resources and give priority to the most important problems we have plausible ways of solving.
Many thanks to all the 750 people who commented on my essay and especially to those I’ve responded to here. I can’t say I’ve altered my position, but I’ve come to see ways to develop and refine it. In particular, I need to make more emphatic that the focus of my argument is on one very specific form of affirmative action: for blacks who would otherwise just miss being admitted to elite institutions because of inequities built into our system. I also plan to explore in more detail the needs of other disadvantaged groups and how these relate to those of blacks. — Gary Gutting
Gary Gutting is an emeritus professor of philosophy at Notre Dame and the author, most recently, of “Talking God: Philosophers on Belief,” a collection of interviews with philosophers on religion.
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【听】【到】【陈】【正】【风】【说】【出】【的】【话】，【孟】【婷】【觉】【得】【心】【里】【暖】【暖】【的】，【看】【来】【他】【还】【是】【非】【常】【关】【心】【自】【己】【的】【嘛】。 【虽】【然】【说】【这】【只】【是】【小】【小】【的】【一】【件】【事】【情】，【但】【是】【谈】【恋】【爱】【不】【就】【是】【这】【样】【吗】，【一】【件】【件】【小】【小】【的】【事】【情】【组】【合】【成】【大】【大】【的】【爱】，【这】【也】【是】【恋】【爱】【存】【在】【的】【意】【义】【呀】！ “【放】【心】【吧】【不】【会】【出】【什】【么】【事】【情】【的】。【那】【个】【世】【界】【的】【身】【体】【比】【我】【强】【多】【了】。【更】【何】【况】【我】【现】【在】【还】【多】【了】【洛】【菲】【菲】【那】【么】【一】【个】【外】【挂】。
“【就】【因】【为】【老】【金】【币】【拿】【了】..【啊】【不】，【是】【顺】【手】..【习】【惯】..【忘】【掉】【拿】【了】【那】【个】【家】【伙】【一】【包】【烟】，【这】【个】【混】【蛋】【居】【然】【就】【和】【他】【的】【堂】【兄】【一】【起】【把】【我】【绑】【了】【起】【来】！【你】【说】【他】【们】【有】【多】【小】【气】！”【地】【精】【蹲】【在】【角】【落】【里】，【看】【着】【面】【色】【不】【善】【的】【三】【人】【主】【动】【说】【出】【了】【自】【己】【的】【经】【历】 “【闭】【嘴】！”【三】【人】【一】【同】【吼】【了】【出】【来】 【地】【精】【缩】【了】【缩】【脖】【子】，【闹】【到】【都】【快】【埋】【到】【胯】【骨】【轴】【了】 ‘【活】【跃】【气】【氛】..六合宝典免费资料大全“【不】【过】【是】【悠】【然】【居】【的】【人】【回】【来】【了】，【也】【值】【得】【你】【这】【样】【紧】【张】？” 【温】【老】【夫】【人】【不】【咸】【不】【淡】【的】【话】【语】【渐】【渐】【落】【下】。 【即】【便】【她】【猜】【到】，【可】【能】【事】【情】【不】【止】【如】【此】，【她】【还】【是】【忍】【不】【住】【开】【口】【讽】【刘】【妈】【妈】【一】【句】。 【之】【前】【帮】【着】【那】【几】【个】【庶】【出】【的】，【怎】【么】【想】【她】【都】【还】【是】【恼】【的】。 【屋】【内】【并】【没】【有】【亮】【灯】，【灰】【色】【的】【床】【帐】【更】【是】【遮】【挡】【了】【一】【层】【光】，【温】【老】【夫】【人】【坐】【在】【拔】【步】【床】【之】【上】，【神】【色】【晦】【暗】。
。 【昀】【华】【一】【到】【晚】【上】，【就】【将】【红】【莲】【放】【出】【来】。 【红】【莲】【跟】【她】【差】【不】【多】【高】，【看】【起】【来】【已】【经】【不】【像】【小】【孩】【子】【了】。 【因】【为】【红】【莲】【是】【火】【属】【性】【的】，【所】【以】【他】【的】【灵】【力】【直】【接】【幻】【化】【成】【鲜】【红】【色】【的】【衣】【服】。 【这】【一】【点】【跟】【喜】【欢】【红】【色】【的】【凤】【抟】【九】【有】【的】【一】【拼】。 “【你】【还】【是】【魔】【修】【吧】，【这】【样】【晋】【级】【的】【快】【一】【点】，”【梼】【杌】【苦】【口】【婆】【心】【的】【说】【道】。 “【我】【不】【想】【这】【么】【早】【魔】【化】，【我】【喜】【欢】【光】，
【江】【应】【犹】【一】【路】【到】【了】【关】【押】【明】【谨】【晨】【的】【柴】【房】，【看】【守】【的】【人】【见】【他】【来】【了】，【自】【己】【主】【动】【的】【开】【了】【门】。 【明】【谨】【晨】【虽】【然】【身】【在】【这】【种】【简】【陋】【的】【地】【方】，【可】【是】【行】【为】【举】【止】【依】【旧】【优】【雅】，【竟】【然】【还】【有】【心】【思】【对】【着】【江】【应】【犹】【一】【笑】。 【她】【手】【中】【拽】【着】【丝】【帕】，【上】【前】【一】【步】【道】：“【二】【皇】【子】，【跑】【得】【满】【头】【大】【汗】【的】，【我】【给】【你】【擦】【擦】！” 【江】【应】【犹】【不】【准】【痕】【迹】【的】【退】【了】【一】【步】，【冷】【冷】【的】【看】【着】【她】，【知】【道】【她】