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The term affirmative action refers to measures taken to ensure equal opportunity employment. Federal subcontractors and contractors are required by law to adopt these measures. These measures are meant to prevent all forms of discrimination against persons on the basis of religion, sex, national origin or color. Some examples of affirmative action that are provided by the United States Department of Labor are targeted recruitment, outreach campaigns, management and employee development, and support programs for employees. The main purpose of affirmative action is to remedy the disadvantages that are often associated with blatant historical discrimination.
The 1964 Civil Rights Amendment provided for affirmative action as women and America’s minority groups such as Hispanics, and African Americans were often disadvantaged (Featherman, 2010). This was mainly because these minority groups were often subjected to certain social outlooks that portrayed their inability to perform as well as white males. Without the affirmative action, women, and minority groups such as Hispanics and African Americans often lacked similar opportunities as whites. For example, Blacks often scored considerably low SAT grades and thus limiting their chances to get into college. Consequently, laws that would implement affirmative during college admissions and in hiring processes were developed. This is the same in psychology courses, where affirmative action has been used in taking in students in order to ensure diversity and equality.
However, such laws vary greatly from state to state due to the challenges associated with affirmative action. This has led to some states or institutions applying affirmative action while others have failed to apply it. This is because this action raises a lot of morality issues and criticism since it allows the discrimination of certain individuals in favor of the minorities. Affirmative action allows for individuals who had been disadvantaged by their sex, ethnicity or race to now have an advantage over others. For example during Psychology course college admission, Hispanic and Black students will be given priority over White students. This is often done by lowering the SAT scores for Hispanics and Blacks so that more of them can get into college (Forest, 2002). Meanwhile, the SAT scores for whites remain higher than the rest and thus, their chances of getting into college become limited.
According to utilitarianism, affirmative action should be maintained considering it has a positive implication on minorities. This is because by applying it, the happiness and well-being of the minority groups will be guaranteed. The number of Hispanics, Blacks and females will increase in college as their entry will be made easier by lowering their SAT scores. In this case, utilitarianism overlooks the consequences resulting from implementing the affirmative action (Jeremy, 2009).
One of the consequences of affirmative action is that it fosters discrimination while trying to seek equality. For example, White students will be discriminated against if affirmative action is applied college admission. This is because it will be harder for them to qualify since they will require higher SAT scores than Blacks. Overly, it would promote diversity within social institutions such as colleges and workplaces. This is because we would now have almost equal proportions of all races and genders within the various societal aspects. Furthermore, this diversity will also minimize the economic disparity between the various races.
If deontological or Kantianism were applied, affirmative action would be eliminated since this ethical theory mainly focuses on the consequences (Jones, 2004). It provides that one should determine an action’s moral worthiness depending on its consequences. When affirmative action is applied during picking of clients in psychological session, it will give advantage to minorities such as women while being disadvantageous towards others.
This is the same case when it comes to the hiring process, for example, if male and female job applicants with similar qualifications are being considered. Affirmative action would give due advantage to the female and select her purely based on her gender. This would be unfair for the male candidate as he had the same qualifications as the female applicant. In this case, it would be against Kantianism as affirmative action would be promoting an unfair outcome in the selection process.
When dealing with the issue of affirmative action, the virtue ethics would consider if it promotes human excellence upon implementation. This is because human excellence forms the basis of this ethics theory. Additionally, virtue ethics does not pay attention to rules or consequences of an action like utilitarianism and Kantianism. In this case, affirmative action does not seem to promote any human virtues. Instead, when affirmative action is used, it tends to encourage racism since individuals’ merit will be determined by their race or ethnicity. Consequently, virtue ethics theory would not promote the use of affirmative action as it does not encourage human excellence (Darwall, 2003).
Psychology is a profession that deems to promote equality and justice. Therefore, the issue of affirmative action should be handled in the right manner. There is a need for consensus amongst the psychological community as whether to follow Kantianism or the utilitarianism thought.
Darwall, S. L. (2003). Virtue ethics. Malden, MA [u.a.: Blackwell.
Featherman, D. L., Hall, M., & Krislov, M. (2010). The next twenty-five years: Affirmative action in higher education in the United States and South Africa. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Forest, J. J. F., & Kinser, K. (2002). Higher education in the United States: : an encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, Calif.
Jeremy, B. (2009). Utilitarianism. S.l.: Bibliobazaar, Llc.
Jones, R. H. (2004). Mysticism and morality: A new look at old questions. Lanham, Md: Lexington Books.
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