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Author Topic: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?  (Read 18008 times)

obamacon

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #20 on: July 30, 2006, 01:13:16 AM »
But if you are suggesting that there aren't plenty of white students with the same UGPA and LSAT or index scores as URMs in same-tier law schools, I think you have a very warped perception of the power of affirmative action.

I wasn't thinking of the proper, ABA definition of tier and I apologize. What I meant to take issue with was the similarly situated part. In the 3rd and 4th tiers this would be less of a problem, but not in the 1st tier which contains both Yale and University of the Pacific.

Miss P

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #21 on: July 30, 2006, 02:39:17 AM »
But if you are suggesting that there aren't plenty of white students with the same UGPA and LSAT or index scores as URMs in same-tier law schools, I think you have a very warped perception of the power of affirmative action.

I wasn't thinking of the proper, ABA definition of tier and I apologize. What I meant to take issue with was the similarly situated part. In the 3rd and 4th tiers this would be less of a problem, but not in the 1st tier which contains both Yale and University of the Pacific.


I think, actually, that Pacific-McGeorge is at the bottom of the second tier.  So no, students at these schools would not be similarly situated.
That's cool how you referenced a case.

Quote from: archival
I'm so far from the end of my tether right now that I reckon I could knit myself some socks with the slack.

obamacon

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #22 on: July 30, 2006, 03:26:29 AM »
I think, actually, that Pacific-McGeorge is at the bottom of the second tier.  So no, students at these schools would not be similarly situated.

It is tied for 97th in the 1st tier this year along with 3 others.

aerynn

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #23 on: July 30, 2006, 10:18:28 AM »
I think, actually, that Pacific-McGeorge is at the bottom of the second tier.  So no, students at these schools would not be similarly situated.

It is tied for 97th in the 1st tier this year along with 3 others.

97th is the bottom of the second tier.  T1 = 1-50  T2 = 51-100  T3 = 101-200   T4 = All the rest ABA accredited schools. 
Here's how it went for me for Fall 2006 admission:
168/3.67
In: Emory($$), UGA ($), W&M ($$), GW($)
Waitlisted:American(W), UVA (W)
http://lawschoolnumbers.com/display.php?user=aerynn

Miss P

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #24 on: July 30, 2006, 12:21:33 PM »
Of course flunking out of any school or failing to pass the bar will screw you out of almost any opportunity (A 2001 Duke JD applied for my cruddy legal assistant job last month and this really freaked me out), but merely having a lower rank in your class may not.

Are you sure about this? If you were a hiring partner would you take a top 5% GW grad or a bottom 20% Columbia grad?

Sorry, I missed this question before.  (Did you edit your post?)  I don't claim to understand the psychology of hiring partners, so I can't say for sure, but I think there are at least a few problems here.  First, I doubt that someone in the bottom fifth of the class at Columbia would be in the top 5% of the class at GW -- law school work is the same and the capabilities of students at these schools are just not that different.  Second, yes, NY firms will do much more hiring from Columbia in summers and after law school than they will from GW, and I think this would mean better chances for someone in the bottom 20% at Columbia than in the middle 20% at GW.  Third, GW is a particularly bad example since (at least according to Leiter and his followers) its placement rate in top firms is much higher than most similarly ranked schools.  A better comparison would be Washington & Lee, Minnesota, or a top T2 school like Cardozo.
That's cool how you referenced a case.

Quote from: archival
I'm so far from the end of my tether right now that I reckon I could knit myself some socks with the slack.

Miss P

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #25 on: July 30, 2006, 12:33:59 PM »
Miss P's post states that people who question AA are afraid of racial equality. This may be true for some, but not for all. Anyone could assert that the people who are for AA are afraid that races are NOT equal, and it would be just as difficult to believe or refute.

You're right -- I was being flip, and I'm sorry about that.
I do believe, however, that AA does not require the elaborate and acrobatic justifications red. and others tried to provide in the companion thread to this one.  From my perspective, AA is justified if you accept the three following propositions:

(1) African Americans generally have lower "entry credentials," and especially LSAT scores, than similarly situated white students; and

(2) The LSAT's correlation with grades and performance in law school is not precise enough to warrant such heavy reliance on the test; and

(3) It would be nice to have more black students in law school (or more black lawyers or more black professionals generally) than we would have if we did not give consideration to race in evaluating these entry credentials.

Also, I'm not afraid that the races aren't equal; I know that the races aren't equal.  We're just talking in different terms.  I do believe that people of different races are equally capable and intelligent; I do not believe that people of races have the same types of training, support, and opportunities.

That's cool how you referenced a case.

Quote from: archival
I'm so far from the end of my tether right now that I reckon I could knit myself some socks with the slack.

obamacon

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #26 on: July 30, 2006, 02:43:22 PM »
I think, actually, that Pacific-McGeorge is at the bottom of the second tier.  So no, students at these schools would not be similarly situated.

It is tied for 97th in the 1st tier this year along with 3 others.

97th is the bottom of the second tier.  T1 = 1-50  T2 = 51-100  T3 = 101-200   T4 = All the rest ABA accredited schools. 

*Runs and hides under bed*

Infinity

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #27 on: July 30, 2006, 05:54:03 PM »
The OP's question appears confused.

a) an apparent "justification" is embedded in the question as to why AA needs justification
b) it assumes that race is a significant variable, rather than explaining why it is so
c) it flatly states that AA reduces racial stratification "without significant cost"
d) it decries "abstract" justifications (and there any other kind?) in favor of vague justifications.

It seems well-intentioned, but does nothing to advance the discussion - or to clarify the questions - around affirmative action.

I'm sorry you found my post confusing; I'll try to explain it better.

To respond to each of your points:
a) True, by asking "why affirmative action needs justification," and then denying that it does, you could argue that my post provides a latent theoretical "null-justification" for AA (as we might call it), but I doubt that any reasonable person would call that "justification."  As soon as someone discusses any issue, it is impossible to show why the questions motivating the discussion are unprofitable without employing those questions and thereby giving them some sort of validity; in this case, by trying to suggest that asking for a theoretical justification is unimportant, I suggest that it is important to consider the question.  Nevertheless, considerate readers will not take my question as implying that I think AA actually needs one.

b) This is another question we can safely avoid.  The causes of racial stratification are irrelevent (as are questions about whether or not race or SES or biology or anything of the sort are "significant variables" in causing racial stratification).  If we agree that there is racial stratification in society (for whatever reasons) and that we would like to get rid of it (for whatever reasons), then if AA helps alleviate the problem at an acceptable cost, that is enough for us to support AA.

c) This is a blatant misreading.  I frankly state:

This "empirical fact" is certainly debateable (maybe it doesn't reduce racial stratification or maybe the cost is too high)

(I even put "empirical fact" in scare quotes!).  I certainly make no claims to be well versed in the matter and am open to hearing why or why not AA does or does not work.  My current understanding is that it does work at an acceptable cost, but I am open to arguments showing otherwise. 

d) Yes there are other kinds of justifications: empirical justifications.  Many people would say that these are not actual "justifications," which is fine by me; in which case, let's do away with worrying about justifications.  Many things we do and many things that are useful have either no justification or faulty justification; we do them because they work, not because they are theoretically justified, so i see no need to provide any justification for AA beyond the fact that it works (which, as I state in (c), I am open to debate about).  Why do we X (sleep, find an aria in the Marriage of Figaro beautiful (I'm thinking of Shawshank Redemption), choose the cherry lollipop over the apple-flavored one)?  Should we all cease doing it until we figure out why?  If by "vague justifications" you mean a lack of theoretical certainty, then yes, I propose vague justifications, but I dare you to find any human conduct that has a certain justification.  Once you escape that nice cozy clean world of theory for the contingencies of practice, such certainty evaporates.

In my mind, theories provide ex post facto justification for practices, they do not justify practices prior to their performance.  Theoretical justifications are sought by those of the philosophical mindset, and they can be fun to discuss and debate--fascinating insights can be made into why certain practices worked while others did not--but such justifications are tangential to the practice, in this case, AA. 

As long as AA accomplishes our goal at an acceptable cost, we should continue to do it.  This does not mean we cannot seek ways to improve AA or attempt to find other policies that are more efficient at achieving our goal at a lower cost (which would then make the cost of AA too high, the way that increases in the precision of military bombs throughout the past 70 years have made civilian casualities from bombings more and more unacceptable in warfare).  But neither of these other courses is an argument against using AA now.

scooby21322

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #28 on: August 04, 2006, 10:28:07 AM »
Affirmative action on the surface seems like a good idea, but in reality it doesn't address the right things.  Consider a situation that I had back when I was in high school.  There was a girl who was half hispanic who lived in a similar neighborhood as many of the white kids, thus being from a similar financial background.  She had the same educational opportunities as the whites, and she was in the top 10% of the class.  She was offered a full-ride to an ivy-league school, and nobody else in the top 10% was even offered a full-ride to the state schools(including the valedictorian).  Admirably, this girl turned down this scholarship because she wanted to get it off merit, not because of her race.  However, to get back to the point, how is this correcting the "social injustices" that many of you are speaking of?  She had the same opportunities as the rest of us, but yet got much better rewards for similar results.  I do agree that there is a correlation with race and socio-economic standing, so address that.  But addressing the issue by race alone is downright wrong.

Martin Luther King said, "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."  Does affirmative action do this?

aerynn

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #29 on: August 04, 2006, 11:31:50 AM »
First, an isolated anecode is not an argument against an entire policy.  For every half hispanic girl who gets a boost when she experienced no disadvantage, there are thousands and thousands of kids who are hispanic and live in a spanish-speaking home, have spanish-speaking friends, and who are disadvantaged on a test that is in English and tests verbal ability, for example.  To say nothing of any cultural or economic disadvantages that have already be discussed to death.  Because you can think of one person who doesn't need AA, that doesn't mean that no one does or that it is a bad program.

Secondly, as we've said before, AA is not a means to bring about a racial utopia but it is a means to deal with the dytopia we are currently experiencing.  Don't confuse the means with the ends.  AA is a coping mechanism, not a cure.  (Although I believe it will contribute to the cure for racial injustice in the end).
Here's how it went for me for Fall 2006 admission:
168/3.67
In: Emory($$), UGA ($), W&M ($$), GW($)
Waitlisted:American(W), UVA (W)
http://lawschoolnumbers.com/display.php?user=aerynn