Affirmative action is defined as a “policy that gives a preference to individuals based upon their belonging to designated groups who are underrepresented not only in the most desirable occupational classes, but also in school admissions and government contracts. ” Those who are underrepresented thus can be referred to as disadvantaged groups, seeing as they do not have a powerful representative voice to speak for their rights.
The policy of affirmative action serves as a blessing for the disadvantaged groups for this reason, by not only adding extra points to the credit of the members of disadvantaged groups when performance evaluation is called for, but also by allocating extra funds to recruit such members of the community. The affirmative action policy may further allow for special training or counseling to benefit members of a disadvantaged group, who may use the extra education to compete effectively with members of the advantaged group.
Whereas the opponents of affirmative action claim that it is injustice to favor a group just because it is considered “disadvantaged,” proponents of the policy assert that affirmative action is necessary to right the wrongs of the past with respect to discrimination and/or racism (Boylan, 2002). In other words, in the absence of affirmative action, discrimination and/or racism may very well continue in almost any if not all spheres of life. The theories of distributive justice known as aristocracy and kraterism would never allow for affirmative action.
The theory of aristocracy calls for the distribution of resources based on one’s superiority or inferiority in terms of “inherited station,” even though there is no scientific evidence that members of advantaged groups always turn out to be better performers in every imaginable field. The theory of kraterism is similarly poised to oppose affirmative action, seeing as this theory calls for the distribution of resources on the basis of how much individuals are able to grasp.
This theory of grasping allows for discrimination and/or racism and struggles to overcome racism, even if these struggles turn violent in the race to grasp resources. Kraterism may be considered morally unacceptable for the simple reason that violence is opposed by the human soul. What is more, both aristocracy and kraterism may be easily debated with the opposite view, such as the theory of egalitarianism. This theory allows for affirmative action by making the equal distribution of resources a necessity unless there is a genuine reason to distribute the resources of society unequally (Boylan).
Based on this theory, the preference given to disadvantaged groups must be seen as a necessity. Without a definite preference shown to disadvantaged groups, the members of these groups may once again be subjected to discrimination and/or racism. However, there is no room for discrimination and/or racism in a society that calls for equality in the distribution of resources, which include the opportunities to study in good schools and establish profitable businesses.
Capitalism may similarly be used to oppose the theories of aristocracy and kraterism with respect to affirmative action. Based on the equality principle of “to each according to his work,” capitalism regards the economic value of individuals and groups to be of primary importance. One’s “inherited station” in life, in addition to the individual’s power to grasp what he or she wants, means nothing in capitalism unless the individual is contributing to the economic growth.
Thus, capitalism allows for investment in new markets. Moreover, affirmative action may be understood in the light of capitalism as an “investment strategy,” that is, the policy of showing preference to disadvantaged groups is considered good as far as it can reduce the chances of discrimination, oppression, and racism in business, and instead, increase the likelihood of the disadvantaged members of the community adding value to the economy at a later date (Boylan).