Judith Thomson’s Argument for Affirmative Action
• Equal Opportunity
Thomson: Private AA
1 Ex) Cake Shop Attendant favor relatives/favor whites
1 Relatives: Thomson agrees that it is okay for the cake shop owner to
hire his cousin because he owns the shop it's his own money and
he can do whatever he wants with his own money
2 Whites: the exact same principle applies
1 The owner can hire only whites if he wants it is still his money
2 Thomson: You can distribute your goods however you like.
• Both of these cases are Affirmative Action
• Thomson: Private institutions can employ any affirmative action policy they want.
Thomson: Public AA
• Ex) City Hall Clerk favor relatives/favor whites
1 Thomson says in this case, it is not okay
• Ex) Club: Who Gets Served?
1 Private eating clubs pay monthly dues to keep it running
2 Two people arrive at the same time you can flip a coin
1 This is the right thing to do because each of the club members is a co
owner of the club paying monthly dues
3 Equal Ownership Principle: every coowner of an institution has the right to
an equal share in/equal chance at any benefit the institution generates
(unless something overrides this right).
4 The other people who want the job who aren't relatives still deserve an equal
shot at the job because they are coowners of the system
• Thomson: Public institutions can't employ affirmative action policies (unless some
overriding factor obtains).
• Override # : … Unless doing so would lead to disaster, or not doing so would lead to a
1 Ex) Club: Served Tiny or Titan?
1 Eating club 2 members that arrive at the same time; the only seat left is
a very fragile antique chair
2 Tiny tiny guy who weighs 90 pounds and would not break the chair at
3 Titan is th