The Superficial Morality of Color Blindness: Why “Equal Opportunity” May Not Be Enough&quest
Eastern Economic Journal, 2013, vol. 39, issue 4, 425-438
Past racial subordination resulting in significant inequality creates a “transition problem” of determining how to deal fairly with the legacy of an unjust history. I show that – in the presence of continued social segregation and when human capital spillovers within social networks are important – the consequences of past discrimination may persist indefinitely, absent some racially egalitarian intervention. I conclude that under such conditions “color blindness” – that is, official indifference to race in the formulation of public policies – is NOT an adequate response to this problem, and that “affirmative action” (i.e., policies whose explicit objective is to create more equal social outcomes between racial groups) is ethically justified.
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