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  • I don't know about the University of Michigan thing, so I won't comment on that, but there are cases in which positive discrimination is imho a good idea. I can think of two such examples over the past decade in France.

    One is requiring political parties to present at least 45% of women to elections (exculing uninominal ones like the presendentials of course), under penalty of losing part of their public financing. At first it might seem detrimental to democracy to force them to pick what may be less good candidates just to fit with the statistics (and in fact it probably is in some cases), but over the long run it will produce more women with experience in politics and help balance the genders in French politics (which are really off). Hopefully that law can be abolished when habit takes over.

    The other one was a bill that reserved seats in one of the most prestigious political science schools to people coming from poorer economic backgrounds. The "elite" complained a lot about that claiming that the school had always been open to everyone (as in all public french schools, there are no fees if you or your family earns less than a given amount) but statistics quite clearly showed that only children of the elite ever made it in, for a variety of reasons that relate more to social capital than to financial capital. The net effect has thus far been quite positive, with most of those students achieving very well.

    My point here is that there is nothing wrong with discriminating. Discrimination is fundamental to judgement, without which in turn there is no thought. It all depends on what you discriminate on and why. Positive discrimination on race could be a good idea after a prolonged period of racism, in order to get people into the habit of not being racist, but doing it based on some dodgy notion that race == culture is, I find, quite shocking.


    -- Robin Berjon []

    • I don't like the law about 45% for women, but I am gratified you see it only as a temporary measure that can later be abolished.

      And I do think that if onen is to reserve seats for people who are disadvantaged, it should be primarily based on factors that do mean something. So helping people with poorer economic backgrounds is OK with me, because that focuses the help where it is clearly needed.

      I agree with you, discrimination is not wrong. Discriminating unfairly is wrong (though that should be a truism
      • I don't like the law about 45% for women

        There had been serious abuse by some parties for years of discriminating against women as candidates. In politics, the reasons for picking a candidate are complex and they thus could not be sued for unfair gender-discrimination. Doing that would have brought forth accusations of it being a political rather than legal attack and so forth. Even the promoters of the law didn't like it much, but it was generally agreed that it was a necessary evil.

        but at un


        -- Robin Berjon []