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Can affirmative action be justified?


Rachael Quah

About Rachael

I would like to express my gratitude to Dr Marie Milofsky for reviewing this essay and for always going out of her way to answer my questions. My deepest thanks also go to David Loo, for always listening and being a source of immense support.

BSc in Politics and Philosophy student at (2011 - 2014). Her main areas of interest are Philosophy of Science and Medical Ethics. She hopes to pursue a career in the Singaporean civil service in the future.

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This essay argues that affirmative action, defined in terms of ‘strong’ versions such as those that come at the expense of other groups, cannot be justified owing to its arbitrary and even counterproductive nature. Arguments for affirmative action will be explored and refuted, in particular the argument from compensation which states that it is not unjust to give preference to someone over an equally qualified other if society has wronged the group that the first belongs to. Other arguments for affirmative action, including the utility that can be gained from diversity for diversity’s sake, will also be challenged.

How to Cite: Quah, R., 2014. Can affirmative action be justified?. Rerum Causae, 6(2), pp.139–146.
Published on 01 Jul 2014.
Peer Reviewed


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