New Issues on Philosophy of Affirmative Action

July 7, 2024 - July 12, 2024
IVR2024 Organizing Committee, International Association for the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy

Soongsil University
Soeul 06978
South Korea

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Hokkaido University


Hokkaido University

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The justifiability of affirmative action has been one of the most controversial issues in the fields of legal, moral, and social philosophy. Since late Ronald Dworkin, a prominent legal philosopher, argued for a racial quota in the admission process of a medical school (which the US Supreme Court struck down in the famous Bakke Case (1978)) in his book Taking Rights seriously, a number of legal and moral philosophers have discussed whether, when and why affirmative action policies are justified. Recently, the US Supreme Court invalidated the selection methods of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (which, albeit being race-conscious, seem to be more sophisticated than that employed in Bakke) in SFFA Case (2023). For all what Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his plural opinion, some argued that the decision substantially overruled the Grutter Case (2003), in which the Supreme Court upheld the selection method of University of Michigan Law School that considered applicants' race as one of many factors.

In this workshop, we will discuss a wide range of issues concerning affirmative action from the perspectives of legal, moral and social philosophy. Yuichiro Mori, an associate professor of Hokkaido University (Japan) and the convenor of this workshop, have worked on theories of equality and discrimination in the fields of legal and political philosophy (he contributed the entry “Relational Equality” to Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy. He is now a visiting scholar at Harvard Law School and working on legal and philosophical issues concerning affirmative action in scarce medical resource allocation (e.g., vaccines, therapeutics and ventilators). While affirmative action policies in the domains of workplace and education have been well discussed, only a few have focused on this newly domain. At this workshop, he will deliver a presentation related to this topic (his recent publication on this topic is “Making Sense of Race-based Affirmative Action in Allocating Scarce Medical Resources” Res Philosophica, Online First. forthcoming) and also serve as a moderator.

Any paper related to affirmative action is welcome, but we highly encourage the submission from those purporting to raise relatively novel topics or bring about new perspectives into affirmative action debates. There is no restriction with respect to methodology in philosophy, but those familiar with analytical philosophy are especially welcome. The topics presented at this workshop might include (and not be limited to):

• On the possible domains of affirmative action other than workplace and education (e.g., health, immigration, military/non-military civic duties).
• On the justifiability of affirmative action programs against those (typically considered) already disadvantaged (e.g., higher standards for Asians and women in the admission process of “Ivy League” universities in the US to maintain racial/gender balance).
• On affirmative-action-related-issues provoked by the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) (e.g., Is it permissible or required to consider race or gender when designing fair AI algorithm? If so, how they can do so in a morally and legally permissible way?)
• On affirmative action and inter-generational justice (e.g., Even if affirmative action is justified as a temporary measure to eliminate the effect of past and present discrimination, how should the burden be shared between different present and future cohorts in order for it to be fair?)
• On fit between means and ends and diverse conceptions of “treatment as an individual” (e.g., Would the best equality-of-opportunity affirmative action (that pays due consideration to all disadvantageous traits) collapse into individual (rather than group)-based redistributive programs? Does “treatment as an individual” direct us toward “more information” rather than “blindness”?)
• On conceptual distinctions between different measures and principles (e.g., Is point-system relevantly distinct from a quota in terms of fairness for individuals? How different is “anti-classification” principle from “color/gender blindness”?)

If you are interested in delivering a presentation at this workshop, please send your abstract (between 300 and 500 words) to [email protected]. by March 29, 2024. Sending your full paper in addition is highly welcome but not mandatory.

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May 31, 2024, 9:00am KST

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