Amy Gutmann, “Should Public Policy Be Class Conscious Rather Than Color Conscious?” in Larry May and others, Applied Ethics: a Multicultural Approach, Prentice Hall, 2011, 5th ed., pp. 410-417.
Amy Gutmann presents a fairness argument regarding affirmative action. She asserts that the expression “class, not race” as a basis for college admissions is too simplistic. Placing class before race is likely to benefit more non-blacks than blacks in the U.S. Gutmann maintains that both class and race should be important considerations in college admissions.
The moral argument of fairness must be kept in the picture since historical injustices have disadvantaged many blacks. The righting of past wrongs has been a goal of affirmative action programs and should remain a goal as a matter of justice toward black Americans. Other programs—such as social welfare and fair workfare policies—are needed to address immediate problems, but race as a factor in college admissions must be maintained to address problems of injustice in the long-term.
Gutmann’s argument draws upon a moderate deontological position with its appeal to fairness.