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Fairness and Political Equality: India and the U.S.

January 20, 2021 @ 12:15 pm - 1:30 pm

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Democracy in South Asia Forum presents

Fairness and Political Equality: India and the U.S.

Speaker: Henry S. Richardson, Georgetown University
Discussants: Hiram Chodosh, Dean and Hugh B. Brown Presidential Professor of Law University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law Erika George, Professor of Law University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

Borchard Conference Room, S.J. Quinney College of Law “Whereas affirmative action for historically disadvantaged minorities faces tough constitutional obstacles in the U.S., in India it has been constitutionally mandated since independence in the form of a system of “reservations” in education, civil service, and politics. Striking as this legal contrast is, as a philosopher I am more intrigued by the differences that arise from the relative narrowness of the affirmative-action debates in the U.S., which center on the domain of higher education. We in the U.S., accordingly, get seduced by a simple, individualistic ideal of “fairness” or meritocracy. Although this idea has also cropped up in recent Indian debates, the structural divergences among the domains of education, civil service, and politics help dramatize its inadequacy. Reflecting on the diverse roles of affirmative action in these different domains helps us to recover a clearer understanding of the point of political equality, both in India and the U.S.”

Henry S Richardson is Professor of Philosophy and Senior Research Scholar, Kennedy Institute of ethics, at Georgetown University. He obtained his Ph.D. in Philosophy at Harvard (under John Rawls), J.D. at Harvard Law School, M.P.P. at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and B.A. at Harvard University. Professor Richardson is the author of Practical Reasoning About Final Ends (Cambridge, 1994) and Democratic Autonomy: Public Reasoning about the Ends of Policy (Oxford, 2002), which won both the Herbert A. Simon Best Book Award in Public Administration and the David Easton Award in the Foundations of Political Theory. Professor Richardson is completing a short book on bioethics, which will be published by Oxford University Press. He is a coeditor of Liberalism and the Good(Routledge, 1990) and of The Philosophy of Rawls (5 Volumes, Garland Press, 1999). He is the author of many influential articles and has contributed the chapter on Martha Nussbaum in Encyclopedia of Global Justice.

Professor Richardson is the editor of Ethics: An International Journal of Social, Political, and Legal Philosophy. In 2010, he was appointed by the Director General of UNESCO to a four-year term as a member of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST).

Co-sponsored by: The S. J. Quinney College of Law, College of Humanities, Barbara and Norman Tanner Center for Nonviolent Human Rights Advocacy, Institute of Public and International Affairs, The Westminster Tanner-McMurrin Lectures, and The Ethics Center at Utah Valley University


January 20, 2021
12:15 pm - 1:30 pm
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S. J. Quinney College of Law
383 South University St
Salt Lake City, UT 84112 United States


College of Law
801-585-3440 | 801-585-3479