Living with Moral DisagreementThe Enduring Controversy about Affirmative Action

Living with Moral DisagreementThe Enduring Controversy about Affirmative Action

Michele S. Moses

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780226344249

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

This book is ultimately about a puzzle: a puzzle about how to understand the nature of the deep disagreement about affirmative action, and beyond that, what to do about it. Relying on deliberative democratic theory, it makes a strong and well-reasoned argument for the deep democratic value of policy dialogue and deliberation to help citizens work through the moral disagreement about affirmative action and other controversial education policies, often having to do with issues of race and ethnicity. Both critics and defenders of affirmative action use the ideal of equality to make their–opposing–arguments about affirmative action policy. This highlights a central issue in the acrimonious debates over race-conscious affirmative action: how can citizens make sense of the policy within a sociopolitical context where both supporters and opponents use the same language to defend or critique it? Given this question, the book is not meant to be another defense of affirmative action. Instead it is a defense of dialogue and deliberation about affirmative action and other controversial race-conscious policies. Disagreements such as these are inevitable in a democracy. Dialogue is important for allowing people to stand in others’ shoes and for seeing each other’s humanity despite disagreement. Such dialogue is the heart of both education and democracy. Maybe dialogue and deliberation will not always (or even often) lead to agreement in policy issues related to moral views, but they have the potential to help us know each other, and understand each other better amidst moral disagreement.