The Instigator
Pro (for)
5 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
2 Points

Affirmative action is contrary to the public good

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/30/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,807 times Debate No: 39671
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




Affirmative action in its present form in the United States is a well-meaning but misguided attempt to advance the public good. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" is a very apt portrayal of this topic.


Affirmative Action: The system whereby preference is given towards certain groups which historically have been targets of discrimination and therefore action should be taken to rectify these mistakes by giving preferences towards these groups.

Public Good: That which benefits society as whole. In this context the primary concern is the calculus of determining which approach serves the public good more.

Contrary: Goes against or is counter-productive in this case.

Affirmative action does not serve the public good because the benefits it provides are outweighed by the negatives. Our government is meant to serve the public good. That was the purpose behind merit-based systems of hiring for government work, to ensure a more competent workforce and to lessen the role of subjectivity in hiring decisions, which makes it easier to discriminate against others. This is usually done via the administration of testing that is done under controlled conditions that is deemed to be pertinent to the job being applied for. This serves the public good on both fronts, providing more qualified applicants and ensuring that groups that may be viewed negatively have an opportunity to make the case that they should be hired for the job. Affirmative action provides a boost to discriminated groups at the expense of merit, so the only way it can be correct is if a society values anti-discrimination to be more valuable than a well-qualified workforce.

Affirmative action must demonstrate that the public good is served better than the alternative, which is the absence of affirmative action. Add up the positives of affirmative action and subtract the negatives, if the result is more negative than positive then affirmative action is contrary to the public good; because the alternative is its absence i.e. nothing. Zero is greater in value than a negative number, so therefore affirmative action's presence is worse than its absence with regards to the public good.


Hello, I am The Doctor, and I am going to be con for this debate.

I will be arguing for affirmative action, and negate my opponents arguments.

All definitions are accepted, except his these:

Affirmative Action: an action or policy favoring those who tend to suffer from discrimination, esp. in relation to employment or education; positive discrimination.

I will first address my opponents paragraphs:

My opponents first paragraph summarized is: Affirmative action's benefits are out weighted by their negatives. However, not on example of it being a negative was given, nor any evidence, links or otherwise was given in any of his argumentation.
His main point in this paragraph is that the government picks solely on race, rather than the merits. However, this is not the case. Affirmative action gives minorities an edge, but it does not give them a free pass to get any job. Lets be honest here no employer will pick an idiot over someone whose competent, race or not. It still is a merit based system with being a minority one of the merits. If two people are both great at the job but ones black, and the others white. The employers will probably hire the black man. Why? Isn't this backward racism? Yes and no. Government jobs "usually", and I use that term loosely, requires some form of higher education. Be it the president, representative, senator, or any other the other government jobs. As a minority it is very difficult thing to achieve such education. Social standing alone makes it difficult. Specially since almost all minorities are poor.(
"African American children are three times more likely to live in poverty than Caucasian children. American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian families are more likely than Caucasian and Asian families to live in poverty (Costello, Keeler, & Angold, 2001; National Center for Education Statistics, 2007).In 2005, the high school dropout rate of Latinos was highest, followed by those of African Americans and American Indians/Alaska Natives (National Center for Education Statistics, 2007)." So when they even make it where they can get these jobs its a feat. Why shouldn't they get an edge? The white have an edge since they are born. Even as a middle class white male you already have an edge when it comes to money and education. Can we really say backwards racism is terrible? When in life, since they were born, they have already drew the short sick. The answer is no, its not terrible.


1. Opponent assumes that employers picks less qualified workers due to race. Which common sense tells you no they don't.
2. Minorities already have less of an edge in life why not give them one edge since they have earned it. Being poor and less opportunities to get a good education when growing up.

His second paragraph basically points out what I must prove. I must prove affirmative action is greater for the public good.
Public good.... How about us being a moral society, and try to bridge the gap between minorities and majorities? I mean does it make a difference if we only preferred whites? probably not. Maybe a little racist but no difference will be made either way. However, affirmative action especially in government allows for the minorities to be represented fairly and equally. Racism still silently exists in our society. Affirmative action allows for stability and some chance of partial equality in life. Doesn't that serve a public good? Yes, it does. It allows stability and some form of equality because frankly us white people can easily find good education, well paying jobs. Can you honestly say that to every person in a minority?
Debate Round No. 1


There are two negatives of affirmative action, one is objective while the other is subjective. The objective negative of affirmative action is the fact that it favors applicants who are less-qualified over applicants that are more qualified. Who decides how much of a boost that minorities receive on a civil service-type exam for public service such as the police, fire fighting, or other government work? Can one prove that this boost accurately fills the "gap" it is supposed. Where is the oversight to determine if the score boost is too great? I have heard talk of twenty five year plans, and other lengths of time when affirmative action will not be needed, but what is the criteria to decide this? Quotas have been deemed largely illegal, but what if the score boosts enforce defacto quotas? My point is that even if one could prove that minorities unequivocally need some boost, it is almost impossible to show that boost given is commensurate with the situation at the present time.

However, two facts that are not in dispute is that these are all service geared towards the public good, and less qualified employees equals a lower quality of work performed by these agencies. Therefore, it is a simple task to deduce that affirmative action lowers the level of public good in an objective manner. The only way to disprove this objectively would be for someone to prove that minorities receiving score boosts performed just as well as those applicants who scored the same without a point boost. Of course, this would mean the test is not objective, which means the test should be re-designed because it discriminates against minorities. I am not aware of test discrimination being the rationale for score boosts, since it is usually talked about as a way to get more of certain group in because they are underrepresented. I will therefore posit that it is an objective fact that in a comparison of two government agencies, all else being equal of course, the one with more qualified employees will outperform the other agency the majority of the time.

Of course, these two hypothetical agencies are not equal when comparing one employing affirmative action to one that does not employ affirmative action, the affirmative action agency has more minorities in it, so I will use the term "diverse" to describe a possible advantage it may have. Therefore, the onus is on affirmative action proponents to prove that this diversity makes its less-qualified workforce equal in overall merit to the more-qualified workforce. My opponent's argument seems to be that a diverse workforce somehow serves the public good, since it makes a more moral society. Possibly, but this must be proved as well. Is it more moral for a police force to be more effective, and thus lower the amount of crime committed against innocent people, or for it to have a politically correct appearance that can be likened choosing a good paint job on car vs. making sure that the car runs as efficiently as possible. Again, this is subjective and thus difficult to prove either way, whereas my argument is objective and can quantified in some manner.

Also, I will counter with a subjective argument as well; affirmative action can lead to tension with minority groups and tension between majority and minority groups. Majority groups will tend to develop some idea that a minority serving in a role that uses affirmative action as a hiring criteria only got the job because they are "black", or "female", or insert underrepresented group. One might say that this person is bigoted for saying this, but since they know that some minority applicants would not have gotten the job if they did not get the score boost, they are just using deductive reasoning; not bigotry, in coming to this conclusion. Of course, not every minority that gets a public service job is only there thanks to affirmative action, some are just as qualified as anyone else. Again, this can create tension between these employees and their fellow minorities who are not as qualified, because they feel that they make them "look bad". All of these are subjective arguments, but one cannot deny that they are reasonable possibilities and therefore must be considered if my opponent desires to use subjective arguments in this debate.


The10thDoctor forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


My opponent's argument also assumes that minorities are incapable of advancing themselves without government assistance, be it in education or public service. His claim is that this is because "almost all minorities are poor", which is a gross exaggeration that could be considered racist/bigot in another context. I don't like to use words like that, because I feel that they convey the wrong message, so I will stick with a more accurate description and say that they oversimplify the situation and thus encourage simplistic approaches like affirmative action.

Furthermore, what about minorities that are wealthy? Do Michael Jordan's children deserve extra boosts in life? How about Barack Obama's daughters? How about the other numerous politicians who are either black or Latino? I am partly being facetious, but it is meant to show the ridiculousness of arbitrarily awarding merit for a factor which has no merit when it comes to the task at hand. Prove that adding unqualified minorities is beneficial to society, which means you need to show how their minority status makes up for their lack of other qualifications. Note, I would not consider hiring a couple extra local black police officers who were border-line unqualified to work in a police department in a heavily black city to be an example of affirmative action. This would be more like hiring one job applicant over another because they have something extra that gives them an edge in doing their job. In this case, the possibility that they could have a greater rapport with the people in the area would possibly give them an edge. However, this is the kind of decision that would probably be made without affirmative action, employers want a more effective workforce, and if they feel adding people of another race will enhance their workplace then they will do it on their own. Affirmative action is too arbitrary, too clumsy, and too anti-merit to make any serious argument that it enhances the public good.

I would like to thank my opponent for taking the time to debate this topic with me. I hope that he puts forth a cogent argument against my position in the final round, rather than forfeiting it like he did in the second round. Judging by his argument in the first round, I was looking forward to a spirited debate with a quality opponent. Regardless, I feel that there is enough information here for the voters to make a well-informed decision on a topic which although controversial, is rarely discussed on a rational and reasoned level, due to the highly political nature of its content.


The10thDoctor forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by The10thDoctor 3 years ago
I didnt finish this debate because my paralegal homework was too demanding I apologize about this,
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Cantseeinthedark 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:52 
Reasons for voting decision: FF