Dworkin’s Belief of Preferential TreatmentFor many years, preferential treatment has been used to try to make upfor past wrong-doings to minorities. There have been many cases tried overracial discrimination, with verdicts of both innocent and guilty. RonaldDworkin attempts to argue that preferential treatment is socially useful and atthe same time does not violate people’s rights. This is wrong for many reasons;here I shall illustrate how preferential treatment hinders racial equality,violates people’s rights, and can lead to a lower opinion toward a particularrace.Dworkin believes that continuing preferential treatment will decreaseracial consciousness and the importance of race. This is the total opposite ofwhat truly happens. If a person were to consider America’s past, as an example,he would see how racially diverse people were.
Now look around. Just walkingacross any given area, groups of people of the same race are seen walkingtogether. Most people do not notice this, but very rarely are groups ofethnically diverse people seen. Although there are no longer any laws statingthat there must be a separation between different races, people still practiceit unconsciously. Dworkin states that the long-term goal of preferentialtreatment “is to reduce the degree to which American society is overall aracially conscious society (294).” Preferential treatment does nothing of thesort. It was used widely in the past and still exists in some areas today. Ithas not reduced racial consciousness, but increased it by making people thinkmore about how many spaces are reserved for their particular race.
Instead,people should think of what their chances are of getting something on account oftheir personal knowledge over someone else’s, not even considering their race asa factor. This is evident in a black’s point of view of getting into themedical school of the University of California at Davis. Sixteen places are setaside just for blacks and other minorities, no matter how low their test scoresare.
That way, minorities don’t even have to worry about competing with whitesfor a position. This does not, in any way, reduce racial consciousness bysetting two tracks for admission to medical school, one for the minorities, andone for the majority.Mr. Dworkin supports the idea that preferential treatment does notviolate people’s rights. His argument is weak here because he attempts to provethis by saying that if two things do not violate people’s rights, then neitherdoes a third. The two things that supposedly do not violate rights are thedenial of someone to medical school because of their age and because their testscores are just below the cutoff line of admission. He then assumes thatbecause these two do not violate rights, then neither does denying an applicantbecause he will not reduce racial consciousness as much as an individual ofanother race would.
By taking this argument apart piece by piece, it is evidentthat all three parts of his argument violate rights. Preferential treatmentviolates a person’s right to be “judged on merit and merit alone(299).” Dworkinsays that another definition for merit is qualification, and for some jobs, racecan be a qualification.
Given a specific job, certain human characteristics aremore desirable than others. People with these preferred characteristics aremore likely to get this job. For example, a desirable quality for a surgeon issteady hands; therefore, a person with steady hands is more likely to get thisposition than a person with shaky hands.
Using race in a similar example,preferential treatment would be just if there were a job where one race is morequalified than another. The problem with this is that there are no such jobs.Dworkin says that denying a person admission because of his age does not violatethat person’s rights, but then, is the individual being judged on his merit andmerit alone? No. It is therefore wrong to discriminate against someonebecause of their age because it violates his rights.A second objection to Dworkin’s belief that preferential treatment doesnot violate people’s rights is that people have the right to be judged as anindividual.
Preferential treatment supports grouping people together accordingto race and then judging them as a whole. Dworkin agrees with Colvin when hesays that people have the right not to be disadvantaged because of one’s racealone. Many colleges set cutoff limits to the applicants’ scores that theyadmit. Some applicants that barely fall below the line have much morededication and enthusiasm than those above the line, and would make betterstudents by these attributes. Unfortunately, these students are not evenconsidered because they are not looked at as an individual, but judged solely bytheir scores. Now imagine a situation similar to this where race is thedeterminant of whether a person is accepted or not. If a person were to beturned down from a college because of his skin color before he was given achance to be interviewed, the college may loose a very smart student. Skincolor should not be used to group people because within one skin color, manydifferent kinds of people can be grouped together.
A possible alternative tothis approach is similar to it, but with one slight changecreate a range aroundthe cutoff line where the students are considered on an individual basis. Thoseinside this zone with admirable qualities are accepted and those without arerejected.The third objection that preferential treatment does not violatepeople’s rights is that a person has the right not to be excluded, disadvantaged,or denied some good because of race alone. In Bakki’s case, Dworkin agrees thathe would have been accepted had he been a minority, but says that he was notdisadvantaged because of his race. He says that Bakki would also have beenaccepted had he gotten better test scores or had been younger, so his color isnot the only thing that kept him from being accepted. Here, Dworkin iscomparing apples and oranges.
A person’s color is no determinant of whether heshould be suitable for a job, and neither should his age (although I will notdiscuss this here). His knowledge is what is important. A doctor should not beturned away because of his race or because he may be a few years older thananother, but he may very well be turned away because he is not performing hisjob to the necessary degree because he lacks the needed knowledge. A person’scolor or age has nothing to do with his intelligence. This is yet another weakargument given by Dworkin.One more disadvantage to preferential treatment is how people feel whenthey work with people who have been helped by preferential treatment. If ablack man were to apply to medical school and be accepted only because of hisskin color, what kind of business would he run if he were to make it out ofmedical school for the same reasons? There would be a great disadvantage togiving him a little extra leeway because of his race. During college, he mightnot try as hard on his studies because he knows he will make it by and thereforenot gain all the necessary information to be a good doctor.
Then, after hegraduates and works with other doctors, he may not only give his race a bad nameby not knowing what he should have learned in college, but he may also losepatients from being misdiagnosed. It is clear that giving racial preferencescan lead to great problems in the future, and should therefore not be used.Many people have explained both advantages and disadvantages topreferential treatment since the racial injustice campaign began in 1954.
Oneof whom is Ronald Dworkin, who spoke on the side for preferential treatment. Heargued that while decreasing racial consciousness, it does not violate anyone’srights. When trying to prove his side, he uses examples that areuncharacteristic to racial preferences such as race being a qualification for ajob. Although Dworkin argues his point well, he uses examples that just do notback up his beliefs as well as they should and do not draw a distinct line ofwhy preferential treatment should be used.