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READ in The Ethical Engineer: Treating Others Fairly and Well (89-94), Rights (106-109), Autonomy (110-111), Employee-Employer Relations (192-220)

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VIEW Lecture and summary sheet on affirmative action (attached file)

COMPLETE the Treating Others Fairly and Well assignment.  First, describe a case (perhaps from your own experience) and analyze it in terms of the criteria for treating others fairly and well.

Posted case should DISPLAYS one or more feature to which at least one of the elements of treating others fairly and well applies.

Comment on the underlined post

POSTS a one-paragraph response to post below.

Response IDENTIFIES an element of treating others fairly and well that applies to the case in the original post.

Response reasonably APPLIES that element to the case.

Reply to the post below:

My friend’s husband (Mike) has been working in retail (big chain grocery store) for almost 15 years and he worked his way up to Assistant Store Manager and was told he is next in line for a promotion, Store Manager. To become a store manager a position needs to become available and it does not happen too often. Mike would be reassigned to new stores because the stores is in trouble and needs to be “cleaned up”. As Mike was being reassigned a new store, as Assistant Store Manager, he would be reassured he is up for promotion. Mike was being used, manipulated, to clean up stores, work duties would be more of a Store Manager and be told he is next for promotion. At first Mike thought, as he was transferred from store to store, this was a way to prove he is more than capable of handing a store and being a Store Manager. As time went on he was passed up for Store Manager because  either the HR person was related to new Store Manager or because she is a female that was in the military. The store chain has been in financial crisis and eventually closed their doors. For a few years Mike was manipulated into cleaning up stores that were in need, looking back he wonders if they used him to help get these stores back on track and profitable. He was also treated unfairly because he chances of becoming a store manager were slim due to the lack of opportunities of the position being available. The district managers were not honest with him and knew they can count on him to get the hard jobs done.

Answer the following two questions:

One argument sometimes offered in support of affirmative action is the need for role models.

– True

– False

Anti-discrimination measures are designed to eliminate unequal treatment on the basis of gender, ethnicity, etc., while affirmative action measures are intended to offer some benefit to individuals who belong to groups that suffered from discrimination

– True

– False


Dr. Schlossberger Affirmative Action Summary

Anti-discrimination v. Affirmative action

Anti-Discrimination measure: Measure designed to eliminate or lessen differential treatment on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, etc.

Example: Law that prohibits redlining.

Affirmative Action measure: Positive step designed to benefit members of a group that is/has been the subject of discrimination.

Example: Scholarships specifically for African-Americans.


Types of Affirmative Action Programs:

i) Seeking out applicants from a special group

ii) Having an unequal scale for determining qualifications

iii) Tiebreaker: when there are two otherwise equally qualified candidates, choose the member of the special group.

iv) Hiring quotas for special groups (either goal target or strict limit)

v) Restricting hiring to members of a special group (set-asides).

Type i) affirmative action (Seeking out applicants from a special group) examples:

PUC sends a recruiter to a high school in East Chicago with a high percentage of Spanish-Surnamed students in order to increase applications from Spanish-Surnamed students.

IBM advertises an executive position in Ebony in order to promote applications from African-Americans


For the next four types of examples, suppose that, without affirmative action, the LSU Law School “Magic Number,” or MN, is (p times LSAT score) + (q times GPA)

LSU currently admits the 100 applicants with the highest Magic Number.


Type ii) affirmative action (Having an unequal scale for determining qualifications) examples:

LSU calculates male applicants’ final magic number = MN x 1.0

LSU calculates female applicants’ final magic number = MN x 1.1

LSU admits the 100 applicants with the highest final magic number.

Another example:

Male firefights must lift 100 lbs, female firefights must life 80 lbs.

Type iii) affirmative action (Tiebreaker):

John and Joan both have the same MN and are tied for the 100th spot. Joan is selected rather than John because she is a woman.

Type iv) affirmative action (Quotas):

LSU’s target is at least 30% women. Listing the candidates in descending order of MN,

1. William 1090


100. John 871

101. Joan 860

Of the top 100 candidates, only 29 are women. LSU will consider (if the quota is as goal) or is committed to (if this is a strict limit quota) selecting Joan instead of John, so that the quota of at least 30% females will be met.

Type v) affirmative action (Set-asides):

K slots of the 100 available are set aside for women. These slots cannot be filled by men.

Another example:

A Biology Dept. at Z University is currently composed of 4 white males. A new position is authorized. Z University will not consider a white male for that position.


Arguments pro (+) and con (-)

· One set of arguments focuses on justice and rights.

· A second set of arguments focuses on utility (consequences).

I. Justice and Rights

1. Compensatory justice argument:

Compensation is due those who have been the victims of unfairness in the past. Affirmative Action is simply reparation to restore the status quo ante.


– Why not any victim of any unfairness

– The Myth of the Group Entity

+ All African-Americans/women pay the price of racism/sexism

via attack on self-esteem and dignity, negative attitudes and

stereotypes, etc.

-“punishing” the wrong people

2. Right to Employ Whom One Chooses

As the libertarians would argue, the rights of property and freedom of association mean that employers have the right to hire whomever they choose.

-A job is not like a sweater:

social role of corporations (shareholder argument)

“an equal opportunity for jobs is the necessary condition for an

equal chance to all other basic goods” (Goldman)

3. Right not to be treated on the basis of race, gender, etc.

+no such right exists

+race, gender, etc. is a qualification (see II a. and b.)

+whatever injustice results is less than the injustice of failing to compensate (1).


II. Utility (Consequences)

+a. The need for role models

-it is racist/sexist to assume African-Americans/women can model themselves

only upon other African-Americans/women

+b. The value of diversity (different perspectives)

-it is racist/sexist to assume there is a “African-American’s” or “women’s” perspective.

+there are certain experiences that, in America, almost all women/ African-Americans/persons

with disability, etc. experience in some fashion or other.

+c. Affirmation action leads to eventual greater equality of distribution

(social goal of improving the lot of minorities)

+d. Affirmative action eliminates institutional inequalities

-e. Affirmative action lowers the level of performance

+f. Affirmation action changes attitudes

-g. Affirmation action re-enforces stereotypes

-h. Affirmative action reinforces thinking in terms of race/gender

-i. Affirmative action lessens the incentive for equality of education

+j. Affirmative action is the only way to offset bias

(Thus affirmative action amounts to anti-discrimination)

–minorities discouraged from applying

–qualification measures are tainted:

Biased exams

Perceptual bias


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