Affirmative Action

Affirmative action is a term drawn from the American experience with racial discrimination. It refers to public policies and private efforts designed ostensibly to help individuals overcome the effects of past discrimination. As typically practiced in the United States and elsewhere, affirmative action usually involves preferential treatment for members of specified groups. Affirmative action practiced in that manner shares common ideological premises and goals, but often different rhetoric, with efforts to promote racial and ethnic diversity.

To understand the contemporary debate over affirmative action, one must have knowledge of competing concepts of equality and of the history of discrimination in America.

The Declaration of Independence proclaimed that “All men are created equal.” The equality to which the Declaration refers is the fact that each person is equally ...

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