Forthcoming in Routledge Handbook of Ethics and Public Policy, edited by Annabelle Lever and Andrei Poama
Abstract: This chapter starts with a definition of anti-discrimination policies. It then introduces a number of dimensions along which these differ, before it zooms in on a particular form of anti-discrimination policy, affirmative action. The motivation for this is that many other forms of anti-discrimination policies are comparatively uncontroversial and raise less interesting moral questions, whereas affirmative action seems vulnerable to the apparently decisive reverse discrimination objection. Hence, I consider and rebut this objection before moving on to review some to the most important justifications for and (some other) objections to affirmative action. This review is somewhat open-ended, since the question “Is affirmative action justified?” is posed at a too general level to have any plausible “Yes” or “No” answer. The chapter ends with the tentative suggestion that the site of anti-discrimination policies includes more than the labor market and higher education.