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Ethics Discussion Questions: Philosophy
1. Randall Kennedy, an African American law professor at Harvard, has written that identity politics is â€śmere superstition and prejudice.â€ť â€śI eschew racial pride,â€ť says Kennedy, â€śbecause of my conception of what should properly be the object of pride for an individual: something that he or she has accomplished. I can feel pride in a good deed I have done or a good effort I have made. I cannot feel pride in some state of affairs that is independent of my contribution to it. I did not achieve my racial designationâ€ť (Atlantic Monthly, May 1997, p. 56). Do you agree? Explain, indicating how you think Kymlicka and Young (Part 4, Chapter 18) might respond.
Kennedyâ€™s argument is based on an ethics of meritocracy. He thinks a person should be valued on their accomplishments and not on any kind of racial marker. The sun, he quotes Cross as saying, should be proud of the hue of a personâ€™s skin, and he contends an individual ought only to be proud of what they have actually done. Kennedy distinguishes racial pride from being ashamed of race. He says if racial pride means just that a person is not ashamed of the race they are born into, then he has no problem with this view. What Kennedy has issue with is favoring another person, or group of people on race alone. In a classroom, should a black professor invite only the black students to his office to socialize? Or, what about other signs of racial pride, that make it look, Kennedy says, that all persons of a particular race are brothers. Kennedy argues that a distinction is to be made between â€śfamilyâ€ť and â€śrace.â€ť They are not the same thing. A person is your brother because over time you have formed a bond with this person. He may share the same race with you, and he may have the same biological parents as you, but Kennedy argues that what constitutes family goes beyond race and biology....
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