Are minority set aside programs morally acceptable?

Essay by adharviUniversity, Master'sA+, May 2004

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Are minority set aside programs morally acceptable?

Affirmative action programs have been set up in the best interest of minorities. While the idea is a good one the problem lies in the fact that one group of people is being penalized for something that was done by people who for the most part are dead. At its heart, the controversy over affirmative action is a controversy about justice. When we try to determine the justice of a social policy, we start with the basic premise that everyone should be treated similarly unless there is a morally relevant reason why they should be treated differently. One of the most heated areas of affirmative action is jobs.

First of all let's use the Utilitarianism theory that suggests an action is right if it maximizes happiness for the greatest number of people over the long term, given that everyone's happiness is of equal value.

In other words, when we make a moral choice we must do a cost/benefit analysis where the common denominator is human happiness. An action is good if it creates more happiness than unhappiness. We are concerned here with everyone who might be involved. Each person's welfare must be considered, and considered equally. So, whatever benefits and burdens the society has to distribute, justice requires them to be allocated on this basis.

The question that needs to be answered is, "Does affirmative action from the utilitarian perspective cause a larger number of people to be happy?" It is really hard to say, because you have one group is being made happy but at the same time another group is losing happiness. Colored groups are becoming happier because thanks to affirmative action there is going to be a certain percentage of their group hired. But at the same time you have...