The above argument for Affirmative Action being morally impermissible is a valid argument. Each of the premises follows the previous one correctly and the conclusions that the argument makes are deducible from the premises stated before them. The premises may follow each other and the conclusions may be deducible by them, but that does not mean that the premises themselves are correct. For instance, premise 1 is not valid, or we can at least provide an argument to prove it invalid.
Premise 1 states that it is wrong to higher anyone other than the person who will do the best job. However, in many cases, there will be more than one person who can perform the tasks of the job just as well as the other applicants. In most cases there is a “tie” between people that have the same ability to do a job. Say Joe, Ted, Mary and Muhammad all applied for the same job along with 50 other less qualified people. Joe, Mary, Ted and Muhammad are all just as qualified as the other for the job and at this point are all the person who will do the job best.
With this, the one in charge of hiring a person for the job has to rely on some other factor to choose one of these four people (Joe, Ted, Mary and Muhammad) to hire. Not one of them is better than the other for the job, but only one can be hired for the one open position. We can try to fix this premise by making it say, ” It is wrong to hire anyone other than the person who will do the job best, and if there is more than one applicant who will do the job equally best, then the new employee must be chosen through a random procedure, such as a blind drawing or a lottery.
This little “amendment” to the first premise will fix the problem of multiple “best” applicants. Premise two may also be proven invalid. In many cases the best person for the job may survive sex or race discrimination. For instance, Andrew, a typical white male, is the best applicant for the job, and the organization doing the hiring for that job discriminates against females. Andrew, being the best person for the job, can still be hired because he is not a female, so discriminating against females did not hurt the company by eliminating the best person for the job.
The company still has the best person for the job, and was lucky that the best person was a male and not a female. So, to make premise two a valid one, we can change the wording around a bit. Making premise two say, ” Whenever one takes race or sex into account when hiring and doing so eliminates the best applicant for the job because of that discrimination, one will hire someone other than the person who will do the best job,” makes it a valid premise to follow premise one.
Now that we have changed premises one and two around, we must also alter the conclusion of those two premises (premise 3) so that it deduces a correct conclusion from them. In doing so, premise three will look like this; “Therefore, it is wrong to take race and sex into account in hiring when it eliminates the applicant who will do the job best from being hired. ” With this sub-conclusion in tact, we are ready to move onto the next premises. Premise four states an obvious truth; Affirmative Action programs do require employers to take race and sex into account in hiring.
Now that premises one through four are valid, we have to look at our overall conclusion of the argument and see if it follows from the premises stated above it. The conclusion statement, statement number five, has to be altered to make it validly deduce a conclusion from the newly revised premises. Premise number five will look like this; “Therefore, Affirmative Action programs require employers to do something wrong if, and only if, the program eliminates the applicant that will do the job best because of the discrimination against sex and race that the program makes the employers follow. “