response to Pojman 2

response to Pojman 2 - Craig P. Dunn Publications: Full...

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Craig P. Dunn Publications: Full Text Version Dunn, C.P. ***DRAFT COPY*** The Normative Defense for Affirmative Action. Journal of Management Inquiry , [forthcoming 1997] Abstract In this article a normative defense for affirmative action is constructed. Definitions for an array of affirmative action programs are offered, each having very different ethical justifications. The characteristics of an 'ideal' affirmative action program are next considered, and the full range of current affirmative action programs are compared against this standard. Affirmative action programs are assessed based on a variety of ethical systems ranging from deontological and utilitarian to justice theories, and the arguments against affirmative action are similarly evaluated. Finally, the root problems which have given rise to affirmative action programs in the first place are explored, and concluding recommendations offered. Introduction The first distinction to be made is a common one, but one which is critical to ethical discourse: the difference between descriptive and normative theory. Descriptive theory is concerned with the way things are, while normative (or prescriptive) theory is concerned with the way they ought to be. As will be seen shortly, each have their appropriate place in discussions of affirmative action. However, to the extent possible we need to keep questions of is--the realm of science--distinct from questions of ought--the realm of moral philosophy. The writings of David Hume are instructive on this point, for it was Hume who first identified what has come to be known as the naturalistic fallacy: one cannot derive an ought from an is (Schwartz, pp. 25-26). In the context of affirmative action, what this principle implies is that one cannot deduce from empirical evidence demonstrating the positive efficiency effects of labor market decisions made in the absence of affirmative action that freedom from the constraints of affirmative action results in better (in a normative sense) decisions than those made under affirmative action conditions. Most of those who question the efficacy of affirmative action programs do so on the basis of efficiency arguments. Braswell et al. adopt a standard approach: "an economic framework [is] proposed as a tool to evaluate affirmative action as policy, and empirical evidence on the effects of affirmative action programs [is then] presented (p. 78)." At their core such arguments share a common view of the appropriate ends of corporate activity. The supposition imbedded in economic reasoning is that the only appropriate end of the corporate enterprise is increased efficiency--and this argument presupposes the goal (or telos) of the corporation to be maximization of shareholder wealth. Without delving in to alternative conceptions of the role of business in society, it should be noted that those who favor affirmative action argue the telos of the corporation involves taking actions which result in a just distribution of
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This note was uploaded on 03/16/2012 for the course FENS 101 taught by Professor Selçukerdem during the Fall '12 term at Sabancı University.

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response to Pojman 2 - Craig P. Dunn Publications: Full...

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