The public defenses of affirmative action have not convinced the majority of Americans that the policy is necessary and just. The notion that merit and qualifications for academic places and jobs can be judged solely by test scores and grades is seriously called into question by the numerous studies analyzed in Affirmative Action and the Meanings of Merit. These studies show that many affirmative action beneficiaries have succeeded in higher education and various occupations despite not having the required test scores or GPA, therefore exposing reified concepts of merit as intellectually murky. Public defenders of affirmative action must point to these realities to convince more Americans that such policies are ethical and contribute to the goal of a diverse and fair-minded society.
Bruce P. Lapenson is an assistant professor of political science, specializing in political philosophy, at North Carolina Central University. He is the author of Uncovering Our Masks, A Freud Reader, and has contributed to the Ambiguity in the Western Mind series. Professor Lapenson has also taught at Temple and Rutgers universities.
Chapter 1 1. Affirmative Action Policy History Chapter 2 2. Affirmative Action: Necessity and Success Chapter 3 3. The Class-Based Argument Chapter 4 4. Reapproachment: Moral, Pragmatic and Political Implications