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Author Topic: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?  (Read 16974 times)

Infinity

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Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« on: July 28, 2006, 06:58:48 PM »
Red's thread has recently gone offroad from its attempt to provide a justification for AA based purely on merit.  Plus I have a bigger question for Red et al: why does AA need theoretical justification at all?

In other words, for all those attempting to provide various justifications for AA based on diversity, merit, fairness, and other abstract or semi-abstract principles: why does AA need a justification beyond the empirical fact that it lessens the racial stratification of our society without imposing a significant cost? 

This "empirical fact" is certainly debateable (maybe it doesn't reduce racial stratification or maybe the cost is too high), and I'd be open to hearing arguments about it, but otherwise, justifications from fairness, merit, diversity, etc. all seem largely irrelevant.

Certainly these abstract principles are employed in my implicit assumption that lessening racial stratification is a good thing, but that is irrelevant; few people, i think, support racial stratification, though their particular reasons for opposing racial stratification differ, so we should ignore why and instead focus on the fact that most people do oppose racial stratification.  As long as we all agree that racial stratification should be reduced, if it is empirically true that AA helps reduce it, and the cost of AA is not too great, then AA is justified, end of story.

Miss P

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2006, 08:17:28 PM »
Red's thread has recently gone offroad from its attempt to provide a justification for AA based purely on merit.  Plus I have a bigger question for Red et al: why does AA need theoretical justification at all?

In other words, for all those attempting to provide various justifications for AA based on diversity, merit, fairness, and other abstract or semi-abstract principles: why does AA need a justification beyond the empirical fact that it lessens the racial stratification of our society without imposing a significant cost? 

This "empirical fact" is certainly debateable (maybe it doesn't reduce racial stratification or maybe the cost is too high), and I'd be open to hearing arguments about it, but otherwise, justifications from fairness, merit, diversity, etc. all seem largely irrelevant.

Certainly these abstract principles are employed in my implicit assumption that lessening racial stratification is a good thing, but that is irrelevant; few people, i think, support racial stratification, though their particular reasons for opposing racial stratification differ, so we should ignore why and instead focus on the fact that most people do oppose racial stratification.  As long as we all agree that racial stratification should be reduced, if it is empirically true that AA helps reduce it, and the cost of AA is not too great, then AA is justified, end of story.

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Its doesnt need to be justified.

It doesnt even need the bolded justification you offered, albeit I think thats an agreeable goal to most people.

I agree.  I think that this is the real challenge to put to people, actually.  Anti-AA types will argue about any justification you make and whether your particular goal is sound, but what they're really scared of is racial equality.  Let them explain this.
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thorc954

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2006, 10:30:02 PM »
Damn the OP made a seriously good point. Prepare to hear some fairness, discrimination, and slippery slope arguments though.
[/quote]

I wanted to start it off with some slippery slope arguements... I figured I might as well be the first. 

It doesnt need to be justified to those that believe that racial stratification is unfair, but then again, those people usually arent the ones that oppose AA to begin with.

I am one of the people that believe that racism has in many ways been replaced by classism. Although I feel racial stratification is unjustified, I find absolutely nothing appaling about classism. I think that AA targets poor blacks while ignoring poor whites. 

Infinity

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2006, 11:08:15 PM »
I wanted to start it off with some slippery slope arguements... I figured I might as well be the first. 

It doesnt need to be justified to those that believe that racial stratification is unfair, but then again, those people usually arent the ones that oppose AA to begin with.

I am one of the people that believe that racism has in many ways been replaced by classism. Although I feel racial stratification is unjustified, I find absolutely nothing appaling about classism. I think that AA targets poor blacks while ignoring poor whites. 

I'm sure people are opposed to classism too, but what does that have to do with AA?  To argue against AA because it does not take into account class is like saying that since I oppose in baseball both steroids and corked bats, any rules that ban corked bats but not steroids are flawed.  If people think classism is a major problem in law school admissions, then other policies can be implemented to compensate, but that need not necessarily concern AA.  Though there might be some overlap between AA and SES, just the way there may be between baseball hitters who use corked bats and steroids (see: Sammy Sosa), you can have separate policies.

I also don't really think this is a slippery slope argument (just because we have AA for race it does imply that we need some policy for class).  And, by the way, I HATE slippery slope arguments--i think they're intellectually lazy.

thorc954

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2006, 11:21:18 PM »
My point simply is that racism has somewhat been replaced by classism, yet AA is still trying to correct for racism. Granted, there is an obvious connection between race and class, but I think something is missing with AA in its current state...


aerynn

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2006, 12:16:12 AM »
My point simply is that racism has somewhat been replaced by classism, yet AA is still trying to correct for racism. Granted, there is an obvious connection between race and class, but I think something is missing with AA in its current state...



You can often disguise your class, but it is pretty tough to hide your race. 

And I agree, there is no need to justify AA to anyone.
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thorc954

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2006, 12:21:42 AM »


You can often disguise your class, but it is pretty tough to hide your race. 

And I agree, there is no need to justify AA to anyone.
[/quote]

true, but when your class dictates your education and your lsat scores, it is a whole other story... im suggesting that class is the cause of the score discrepency rather than race

aerynn

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2006, 12:29:13 AM »


You can often disguise your class, but it is pretty tough to hide your race. 

And I agree, there is no need to justify AA to anyone.

true, but when your class dictates your education and your lsat scores, it is a whole other story... im suggesting that class is the cause of the score discrepency rather than race
[/quote]

What do you do about the idea that class is a spectrum, not a firm category?  Just deflate the numbers of the rich kids to give a boost to anyone below a certain class cut-off?

Also, rich kids make rich alums.  This helps the school and arguably all the less well off kids who the school helps with the money given by the wealthy.
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aerynn

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2006, 12:33:49 AM »
I would also add that I think law schools DO compensate for class: they take grade inflation in mind when looking at GPA, they often ask about your parents' education level, they ask you to talk about adversity you've overcome.  I think these soft factors help boost people.  It is just a lot harder to point to someone and say, "That poor kid took my spot because I am too rich!" 
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In: Emory($$), UGA ($), W&M ($$), GW($)
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Towelie

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2006, 12:50:00 AM »
Why does AA need justification? Because any law needs justification. Aside from that, I also think lawmakers need to show that AA is the best solution to the problem. Saying that a law needs no justification is a step I'm not willing to take, and those of you who agreed with the OP might want to question what would become of society if this was a policy we all adopted.
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