The fight for equality in the society has been one of the subjects of discussion that has generated heated arguments among people of different caliber and class in the society. There are those that have argued for the promotion of affirmative action in the society, citing that they are fighting the rights of those that have been discriminated in the society for one reason or another. As a result, there has been a pull and a push from both ends, with each person arguing that he is the one that holds the correct position in regard to this issue. Therefore, there are various approaches that can be employed either to promote or discredit affirmative action in the society. One of these approaches is the use of ethics. In this regard, the question that everyone has been asking is; ‘Is affirmative action ethical?’
The answer to this question depends entirely on the school of thought that one has been raised up in and the perception that one has towards affirmative action. To begin with, those that have promoted the course of affirmative action in the society see it as one of the efficient ways of promoting equality in the society. According to LaFollette (2002), affirmative action has been one of the most important channels in the American community that has been employed to compensate for the atrocities that were committed and continue to be committed against the minority, especially the African American and the Latin American communities who have been treated indecently for many years (448). Therefore, this has been one of the ways that has been utilized to compensate for what they lost during the era of discrimination in the history of the United States of America.
However, while theoretically affirmative action has served well in fighting for equal rights in the society among both the majority and the minority, its effects have turned it into a monster that has ebbed away the humble life of the less privileged in the society. To illustrate more on this, it must be realized that the normal lives of the American people have been founded on hard work, both among the rich and the poor, the majority and the minority. However, one of the proposals of affirmative action is that the minority in the society be provided with certain privileges that would elevate them to the standards of the majority. As a result, people such as students from the minority groups that are perceived to have been discriminated have been given priority when it came to admission to colleges and other academic programs. This has been done with the aim of enabling these students to gain education on a large scale in order to raise the standards of their lives by being able to compete for opportunities in the society with the majority group. Yet such treatment has earned them negative attributes in that they have been perceived as people who are lazy and less intelligent than others in the society. In this regard, Yates (1994) argues that instead of advancing, the standards of education among the minority groups have literary gone down leading to less productivity among them. On the other hand, the efforts of those that have worked hard up the ladder in the society has been discredited since their kind were given favors to achieve what they have.
On the other hand, there is an element of vulnerability of the minority in the society that emerges because of affirmative action. While this approach of fighting for equal treatment in the society is supposed to restore societal harmony, it has only succeeded in drawing a demarcation between the majority and the minority in the society, with the majority developing a perception that the minority are out to take away their rights while on the other hand, the minority have perceived the majority as the root cause of all the problems they have. With such standpoints being depicted clearly in the society, it is difficult to unite people as one and help them to enjoy the fruits of an independent country. Thus, instead of bringing people together, affirmative action has only managed to separate people (Ingram & Parks, 2002, p.322).
Therefore, it can be said that affirmative action has began losing its meaning, especially after much ground had been gained on the issue of discrimination. As a result, it has lost ground on much of its ethical position and there is need for a critical review if it is to remain relevant and ethical in the society and specifically the American society.