On September 28, the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law will host a discussion titled “Fairness and Political Equality: India and the U.S.” as part of the University’s Democracy in South Asia Forum. The 12:15 p.m. event will be held in the college’s Borchard Conference Room. Admission is free and includes lunch, but pre-registration is required.
The featured speaker is Henry S. Richardson, Professor of Philosophy and Senior Research Scholar, Kennedy Institute of ethics, at Georgetown University. Discussants are professors Hiram Chodosh and Erika George. The event will be moderated by Deen Charterjee, Senior Advisor and Professorial Fellow at the College of Law.
The premise of the event is: “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.”
“Fairness and Political Equality: India and the U.S.” is sponsored by the College of Law, the 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.