What did I start?
cornell at MAIL.WSU.EDU
Tue Oct 31 12:27:19 PST 2000
I may still be misunderstanding, but think there is a substantive
disagreement here. An earlier post suggested that it was morally superior
to have a state commitment to ending discrimination rather than simply
relying on the market, even if both produced the same results. As I
understand Frank Cross, he is suggesting that if the consequences are the
same (i.e. practical policy implications -- rules of non-discrimination
are followed) it doesn't matter how we get there.
I disagree, I think it matters a great deal. A society that treats members
equally simply as the result of happenstance or good luck (or the vagaries
of the market) is not treating them "as equals" (to use Ron Dworkin's
phrase). To achieve this stronger conception of equality public policy
must not only treat people equally but do so by affirming their equal moral
status (i.e. do so for the right reasons). Even if markets tended toward
nondiscrimination (a position I have serious doubts about) they do not do
so on the basis of any such affirmation, they may operate in a perfectly
non-discriminatory fashion while never affirming or even addressing the
equality of persons.
Washington State University
At 01:01 AM 10/31/00 -0800, you wrote:
>Well, I fear I was misunderstood. My comment was simply that, whatever
>definition of equality one chooses, we should be guided by consequentialism
>rather than motive. But that comment involved its own misunderstanding of
>a prior post
>At 06:33 AM 10/31/2000 -0500, you wrote:
>>so if the "reason" is to help the underprivileged, and that is a right
>>then don't you both agree with each other?
>>Cornell Clayton wrote:
>>> Surely, Frank Cross can't be right when he argues:
>>> >Eliminating discrimination is a consequentialist goal aimed at helping
>>> >underprivileged. The optimal policy would seem to be the most effective
>>> >one, not the one based on the "right" reason.
>>> As a normative matter, the only ground to oppose discrimination is when
>>> wrong to treat people unequally for certain reasons. We discriminate all
>>> the time for all sorts of reasons. Certain discriminations are morally
>>> repugnant not because people are in fact treated differently but because
>>> intent in so doing is to disparage or otherwise deny their dignity (i.e.
>>> university sports programs that separate athletes on the basis of sex are
>>> different from programs that discriminate on the basis of race because one
>>> intends to disparage a class where the other does not). If certain
>>> discrimination are wrong only because of what they intend, then the only
>>> effective policy for redressing such discrimination is one adopted for the
>>> "right" reasons as well as the right results.
>>> Cornell W. Clayton
>>> Washington State University
>Herbert D. Kelleher Centennial Professor of Business Law
>University of Texas at Austin
>Austin, TX 78712
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